Alan Wake 2 Preview: Survival Horror Meet Detective Thriller

On May 18th, 2010, there were two huge titles released on the same day. Red Dead Redemption and Alan Wake. It was unfortunate because Red Dead Redemption really took the world by storm, and Alan Wake was left overlooked. Thankfully over the years, with DLCs, and a recent remaster, Alan Wake has gained more favor. For a few years, it had garnered a cult following, and if you were like me every game Remedy put out, you were looking for clues to a sequel to Alan Wake. When the DLC for Control came out featuring our good friend Alan Wake, I really thought that was the best it was going to get. Thankfully Remedy eventually announced Alan Wake 2, and during Summer Game Fest, they released a trailer that showed off some of the gameplay. It was a few days later, I was invited to get a deeper dive into what Alan Wake 2 would be. It was surrounding the section we saw in the trailer with the folk horror deer man, but more fleshed out before and after.

Almost immediately, there is an evident vibe change for Alan Wake 2. This is no longer a thriller with some rough gameplay. It is a straightforward cult survival horror game with some really fine-tuned gunplay. While we only got to experience Saga, we did get hits of Alan. As things start out, Saga shows up to this massive wilderness and has options on which path to take. We were told that as the game progressed, we would return to this spot with more trails opening up. They made it sound like not necessarily an open world but open sections. 

As we walked through the forest, we started gathering clues because this demo took place a few missions into the game already, so Saga was already acquainted with the shadowy monstrosities skulking the woods. The gameplay is incredibly smooth, with a similar layout and feel as the recent Resident Evil releases like Resident Evil Village. With a similar inventory system and gunplay, Remedy has cleaned up its gameplay stylings a lot. Still, you can track the progression of their evolutions throughout their releases, with Alan Wake 2 looking like their smoothest experience to date.

Alan Wake 2 looks incredible, with not only the character models looking fabulous but the lighting and environments pushing folk horror’s vibes to the maximum. When Saga is searching for clues, she is able to shift into her Mind Palace. This location lets her take a closer look at everything attached to the current case and make deductions, all while time stands still in the real world. It is an interesting mechanic that lets us, as the player, live out that detective fantasy. While we string clues together, it will evolve and shift the story leading us to new clues and, ultimately the solution to some unanswered questions.

After placing some clues together, we are sent to this cabin where we can place a fuse, and it turns into Alan Wake 2s version of a save room. In these locations, we will be able to switch back and forth between Saga in the real world, trying to solve a case, and Alan, who has been trapped in a shadow dimension. We did not get to test this out, but we have been told that you can play them in any order. There are apparently two stories happening at once, and you could take Saga all the way to the end before playing Alan or do a mishmash of both. I would like to see how seamless these transitions are before commenting any further on them, but I do trust Remedy to tell a really compelling story. It’s apparent that not only is the presentation taking itself to a new level, but it is also already meeting the high expectations that come with that, and we have only just begun to scratch the surface of what this game will hold.

When Saga comes into contact with a taken enemy, it has this awesome folk horror vibe to it, with some ASMR cursing at you and an undead deer look to him. These bad guys look amazing. Later in the demo, once Saga is at the end of the current case, we see what is basically a mini-boss. She is getting chased through this in-between darkness world by Nightingale, having to outrun and outsmart him, mixing in some flashing action that returns from the first game and blasting him with a shotgun we snagged earlier on. He is this hulking terror that has been haunting Saga’s dreams ever since she took on this case. It is after the altercation with him that we finally see the man myth and legend, Alan Wake, washing up on a shore looking all disheveled and having clearly gone through some mental trauma. I am very excited to see where the story goes, and thankfully we won’t have to wait much longer because October isn’t that far away.

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