It has been 13 years since Alan Wake, and Remedy Entertainment are prepared to return to the franchise in what they are calling their most ambitious game yet, Alan Wake II. Featuring two protagonists, the titular Alan Wake and FBI agent Saga Anderson, I was able to see extended gameplay of a mission with Saga at Summer Game Fest. While I did not get to play, there was still a ton to see.
The original Alan Wake is more psychological horror than it is survival horror, but Remedy has made the decision to lean into more traditional survival horror elements in Alan Wake II. That means some combat and inventory management that will be very familiar to Resident Evil fans.
However, Remedy wanted to make sure we knew that they plan to dress up and twist the survival horror elements people know and love into their own distinct style. Remedy games written by Sam Lake all have a distinct feel and atmosphere, which will assuredly be part of Alan Wake II.
I could spend a ton of time describing what’s going on in the story, as man there is a lot going on, but let me summarize it like this: Alan Wake is trapped in the Dark Place trying to write himself a new reality to escape while Saga Anderson’s murder investigation gets increasingly supernatural, with the dead coming to life and other occult things happening.
Their stories collide as what Alan is writing happens to be a story starring Saga, and the pages of his writing she finds have either happened already or will happen. You will also be able to swap between the two between missions, completing as many as you want before swapping back to the other at will.
The most interesting thing shown in the demo was the Mind Place. It is the idea of a mind palace manifested, which can be visited at any moment in the game, allowing you to deduce what you may need to do next with the clues you found.
In it, there is a big board full of pictures, notecards, and more all connected by a classic red string. It’s not clear how defined putting things on the board is, or if it is absolutely necessary to progress the story, but it looks like it will be a big sprawling mess as the story begins to grow.
The Mind Place also features something they’re calling Profiling. That is where Saga can go into the mind of someone she is investigating to try to figure out what to do next. She can see and feel what they experienced to move on.
Obviously, real FBI agents profile by creating a bunch of data and information on someone to try to guess what they may do next. Here, Saga’s ability is much more supernatural. For example, at one point she profiles who she is investigating and just suddenly knows the heart she needs to find is in a general store’s old freezer. She comments that she has no idea why she would have known that. There is definitely more going on than she knows.
When it comes to combat, Alan Wake II looks near identical to Resident Evil in just about every way. The enemies are sinister and relentless, ammo is a hot commodity, and you’ll even be managing your inventory in a very familiar way. The quick slots for weapons and other items is the exact same as well.
Alan Wake II does have a bit of a spin on the combat, however. Just like in the first game, light and your flashlight play a big role in combat. Places that give off a lot of light, like a street lamp, will be havens to let you heal up as enemies will avoid it. In the middle of a fight the flashlight can damage and weaken enemies as well.
This is all just the things from Saga’s side of the story, too. Who knows what sort of things Alan Wake will be dealing with in the Dark Place.
It all feels a bit reductive to say Alan Wake II has the gameplay of Resident Evil, with some extra flair in the investigations, the supernatural elements of something like Twin Peaks, and the grimly occult tone of the first season of True Detective, but it was my immediate reaction on leaving the gameplay session.
Of course, Alan Wake II will have a ton of things unique to it, like Alan writing out Saga’s own horror story and the weird compulsion she feels to fulfill it as some sort of prophecy. But I will say as a fan of all of the above in some form or another, I’m extremely excited for Alan Wake II.