The story of lost writer Alan Wake continues with Remedy Entertainment’s sequel Alan Wake II. A lot has happened since he went missing back all those years ago; does this psychological horror title manage to stand out in this day and age?
Alan Wake II Review
13 years since the original release (has it really been that long?), things in Bright Falls are getting weird. FBI Agent Robert Nightingale is dead, and FBI Agent Saga Anderson and Alex Casey (good name) have been sent over to investigate the case. However, things quickly unravel into something much bigger, with the duo finding manuscript pages that tell of future events. It all ties into the titular Alan Wake, who has been trapped in an alternate dimension known as the Dark Place after all this time.
While the game wears its inspiration on its sleeve, Alan Wake II quickly subverts expectations as time goes on. Starting out, this release seems part and parcel similar to series like Twin Peaks, True Detective, and even Sherlock with Saga Anderson’s “Mind Place.” However, as things progress, the bizarre starts to take hold. We won’t spoil some of the elements, but what we expected from the first few hours of play quickly changed, leaving us eager to see what will happen next. There’s also some well-acted live-action segments to really drive the experience home.
If anything, that’s Alan Wake II’s greatest strength – its immersion. The dreary Pacific Northwest is a great backdrop, but it’s the moodiness and the overall mystery that seals the deal. One can breeze through from one point to the other, but actively seeking out elements like manuscript pages and even footage adds to its lore. It also helps that the sound design is at the top of its class – including a fantastic implementation of the band Poets of the Fall as the Old Gods of Asgard.
Just note that the gameplay of Alan Wake II is nothing too out of the ordinary. Players will take control of both Saga Anderson and Alan Wake as they take on supernatural threats. Much like the original release, it helps to shine a light on things – literally. Players will take down enemies by focusing a beam of light on them, stunning them for proper attacks and dodging when appropriate. It’s far from the deepest system around, following the same formula for a while. Nevertheless, it does tie into the overall motif of Alan Wake II quite well.
There’s also the detective elements that come from the aforementioned “Mind Place” and Alan Wake’s “Writer’s Room.” In certain segments, both Saga Anderson and Alan Wake will need to either piece together the mystery or outline this clairvoyant novel. We could take or leave these segments; while we did like putting the mystery together, we were all too eager to jump right back into its surreal world.
It should be worth noting that Alan Wake II is a sequel in the truest sense of the word. While there are new characters, it also picks up after the events of the original. Those looking to start with this title and skip the original – or even Remedy Entertainment’s other titles like Control – will miss quite a bit.
Alan Wake II manages to subvert expectations with its immersive world. Combat gets the job done, but it’s the overall mystery that will have players eager to shine a light on this Dark Place.
Dec 7, 2023
Nov 15, 2023