Alan Wake 2 Review – Deerly Beloved
Alan Wake 2 is what happens when you let this artist do talking in creating an experience that has a lasting impression on those who played them.
An unbridled sequel that got segwayed into an arcadey spin-off, teased as a show within a show inside another different video game, and then finally shown off within a divergent game’s expansion that explores the first game’s themes within a Federal Bureau environment, all within a newly established universe that explains it’s disappearance rather well after 13 years.
The old batteries have been replaced, and as the Dark approaches, let’s see how Alan Wake 2 handles beyond the doors after their long hiatus.
Remedy’s Northlight Engine shines incredibly well in the return of Alan Wake, with their lighting and visual styles making the sleepy town of Bright Falls feel both cozy and creepy whenever it feels like it for our first protagonist, Saga, whilst also making the Dark Place’s New York feel dingy and lived in, with all of its graffiti walls and Subway signs that hints at the true nature of our title character, Alan.
Although the Series S version is capped at 30fps, its fidelity of the visuals with both locations does make it a good compromise that makes it quite of an eye candy of a game, which makes the many constant crashes during my time with the game far more disappointing that it needs to be, considering if this were the Gold print (it doesn’t have a disk release), people would be displeased with this state of the game.
The audio side is also an amazing plus point, with how it conveys the creepiest of the enemies that have been possessed by the Dark Presence and the chatter that you hear during the downtime’s at both Bright Falls and the Dark Place makes it feel like you aren’t meant to be there.
Not to mention its incredible usage of music that captures its multimedia mixing-and-matching style that after three games Remedy has mastered at this point, with an ending song to finish up each chapter like a TV show. And let’s not forget the incredible usage of that song by the Old Guards of Asgard in one of the best chapters within Alan’s story, maybe even in video games this year.
Other than that, the UI does remind players of a certain survival horror game that’s about dealing with evil denizens as this game does, and I’m glad they shared notes because it makes the experience easier to gauge and focus on the action at hand.
Therefore, the presentation side has been solid marks with some blemishes in my view.
Alan Wake 2 takes the best parts of both Control and the first game (with some elements from Quantum Break as well) and puts it into an existing blender that already has elements from Resident Evil into a gameplay that fits the homage territory, with the elements of the puzzle fitting in well with how the gameplay ebbs and flows through the journey along with Saga and Alan.
It is not so much as fixing what had hindered the first Alan Wake game but rather going to something that people would expect from a survival horror have but also adding in Remedy’s spell spices blend that makes it stand out, like Alan’s ability to manipulate the Dark Place via writing in specific words that would shift the level from some form of normality to something that befitting that Horror genre, all within a typewriter shift. Which unintentionally also bleeds into Saga’s adventures into the Dark Place as well.
But the main component of their combat is still retained well, the “Flashlight then attack” is now more refined, weapons feel tightly controlled and more meatier in balance with how the enemies’ attacks now feel more dangerous, and health packs need a few seconds before adding towards your health bar. It is called Survival Horror for a reason.
The puzzles themselves also tell an interesting story. Like within Saga’s campaign, you get to see the number of boxes that the so-called “Cult” left for their people, which you can solve and ransack for a quick breather of items for your journey.
And like that other game, you can also get charms that can help you in your battles by solving riddles left by a certain Bureau that investigates paranormal activities, whilst also learning their involvement within this sleepy town.
And what else can I say about the gameplay, like an engaging novel, it is something that you can’t put down even after playing it once. And those DLC expansions can’t come soon enough.
There’s not much that I can say to not convince you guys, the readers, in just diving head first into this one and expecting to come out here unchanged. It’s one of the most engaging 10 – 15 hours of your life wrapped in one of the best ways to enjoy a medium as weird as Alan Wake 2.
Not to mention New Game Plus and the two expansions are coming in next year, so experiencing the story before diving into these new experiences should be the plan should you be interested in playing this amazing story.
Returning to Remedy’s world is always a joy, whether it’s walking along the snowy streets of New York or exploring the Oldest House to uncover the Bureau, it’s always a treat to play something that the folks in Finland have cooked up, be it a masterpiece or the saving grace of a failing revival shooter.
Alan Wake 2 elevates that to a new astral plane in my view. Where everything fits together when the game doesn’t crash ever so often, it’s become one of my favorites just by being itself really, a quirky story about a writer desperately trying to escape the horrors of writer’s block by dragging in an FBI agent. And that’s all Remedy needs to get me hooked, really.
Alan Wake 2 is a masterpiece that, once again, showcases that video games can be the medium to showcase art with its amazing atmosphere of horror and story that captivates players from the start till the end.
Do pick it up when you have the chance because even if this is your first time delving into the Remedy-verse, you won’t be disappointed with what you are diving into.
Played on Xbox Series S, Review copy purchased by reviewer.