Twenty years ago, Remedy Entertainment began working on their next project following the successful launches of Max Payne and its sequel. Early on in its development, the team had established two fundamental elements for their next title: a heavier focus on narrative by telling the tale of a successful writer trapped in a small town that has been plagued by supernatural events, and a larger amount of player freedom by making the game an open world sandbox, inspired by the popularity of Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City. While the open world structure was ultimately replaced by linear, episodic chapters after years of internal development struggles, the core plot remained intact when the game was finally released in 2010 as an Xbox 360 exclusive thanks to the studio’s partnership with Microsoft. Drawing inspiration from Twin Peaks and the works of Stephen King, Alan Wake’s launch started off slowly since the game was released during the same week as Red Dead Redemption. But after being backed by a solid critical reception and making its way to PC in 2012, the game skyrocketed to over two million total copies sold one month after the PC launch, and over 4.5 million copies in 2015.
Despite releasing two post-launch DLC packs and a middling spin-off called Alan Wake’s American Nightmare in 2012, the cliffhanger ending of the original game has remained mostly untouched since the game’s original release, as the titular author saves his wife by trapping himself in the Dark Place, an alternate nightmare dimension where his own words came to life around him. Even with the impressive sales numbers and the continued fan outcry for a proper follow-up, Remedy had their hands tied as their partnership with Microsoft ensured that the IP remained with the publisher. This ultimately changed in 2019 after Remedy fully acquired the rights to Alan Wake, receiving a substantial payment for the sales of the game that helped the developer justify their plans for a sequel. The following year, Remedy released a second DLC chapter for their newest release, Control, which continued to tease the fate of Alan Wake as protagonist Jesse Faden began to uncover what happened to the infamous missing writer. In 2021, Remedy remastered the original Alan Wake for modern platforms to help those that missed out on the original journey catch up for the long-awaited sequel that ended up being announced at the Game Awards later that year. Now, longtime fans and recent players alike are just over a month away from helping Alan Wake to escape the Dark Place, where he has remained trapped for the past thirteen years.
While the original game leaned heavily on horror elements but ultimately ended up playing more like an action adventure game, Remedy has made it clear that Alan Wake II will be the studio’s first survival horror game. Players will not only take control of Alan Wake in the Dark Place, but will also play as Saga Anderson, an FBI agent who heads out to Bright Falls to investigate a series of ritualistic murders. Accompanied by her partner Alex Casey, who shares the face of Max Payne and Remedy creative director Sam Lake, Saga’s tale will intertwine with Alan’s as players will be able to swap between the two narratives at various points, allowing them the choice to further explore whichever mysteries most entice them. While playing as Saga, players can pause the game and access her Mind Place to piece together the various clues she uncovers while exploring Bright Falls, connecting events and profiling characters to help solve the case. Much like in the original game, players will find pages from a manuscript that foreshadow upcoming events, but Alan Wake II will also take advantage of dialogue options in conversations for those that want to engage with the citizens of this deceptively quiet town.
Little has been shown of the upgraded combat system so far, but the core combination of utilizing firearms and a flashlight to weaken the otherworldly creatures remains intact for the sequel. Resources will be more limited than the original game to enhance the survival horror elements, but players can also dodge out of close range attacks to gain distance between themselves and the enemy. While there’s been no mention as to the fate of Alan’s friend Barry Wheeler, the cast of the game will also feature Shawn Ashmore, who previously worked with Remedy as Quantum Break protagonist Jack Joyce, as a sheriff known as Tim Breaker (Time Breaker?), and David Harewood as the mysterious talk show host Mr. Door during the bizarre live action sequences that plague Alan. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see Jesse Faden show up in the game as well, as their two stories are clearly connected after the events of the aforementioned Control DLC. After Alan Wake II launches, the game will be supported with both free DLC and two paid expansions known as Night Springs and the Lake House, adding more questions as to just how wrapped up Alan’s story will feel after the events of the base game.
As part of their partnership with Epic Games who helped publish the Alan Wake remaster, the upcoming sequel will only be released as a digital title on PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC when it launches on October 27. Remedy credits this decision to the continued shift by their player base to a primarily digital lifestyle, and to allow the studio to offer the game for a lower base price of $49.99 at launch. With this lower barrier to entry and the continued growth of Alan Wake’s tale over the past thirteen years, there’s plenty of high expectations for our next journey to Bright Falls. With Remedy continuing to evolve their standards for storytelling with their signature supernatural elements, Alan Wake II is shaping up to be one of this year’s best horror games.