An Unforgettable Journey - A Review of Alan Wake II
Join Liv from Podcasters United as she shares her review of the long awaited Alan Wake II!
Game: Alan Wake II
Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC
Hours Played: 21 hours
13 years later we finally get to hop back into Alan Wake’s journey with the release of Alan Wake II! If you have not played the original Alan Wake game, I highly recommend you do despite Remedy Entertainment saying that there is “no required homework” for this game. I digress. A brief synopsis of Alan Wake is Alan Wake and his wife, Alice, go on vacation to Cauldron Lake in Bright Falls, Washington. Alan has been suffering from writer’s block for 2 years and thought this vacation would take his mind off of things, but Alice revealed she planned this trip to visit a doctor who helps artists. Alan becomes enraged and storms off, only to run back when he hears Alice crying for help. As he returns, Alice is dragged into the lake's waters by a shadowy figure. Alan dives in after her and as he is transported through time and space, his worst nightmares come to life. Sucked into what Alan calls “the Dark Place”, Cauldron Lake brings works of fiction to life which ultimately traps him into a cycle of absolute horror. Now, let’s dive into my spoiler free review of Alan Wake II.
Alan Wake II is a work of brilliance. The player rotates between two characters during the game which offers the player multiple perspectives of the ongoing mystery. Saga Anderson is an FBI agent who is tasked with solving a series of murders in town. As you collect clues, you are able to use her case board to analyze the clues and help point her in the right direction. This is such an interesting mechanic to add to Alan Wake II as the previous title did not have any puzzle solving sections of the game. Alan Wake can best be described as a third person action adventure type of game while Alan Wake II is a survival horror game with many different puzzles to solve both narratively and physically to acquire items in the game. The other playable character is Alan Wake himself as he writes the story of his escape from the Dark Place. Similar to Saga’s case board, Alan has a storyboard. As he goes deeper and deeper into the Dark Place, he can discover new story beats and place them on his storyboard. Changing the story beats alters the environment. By changing the environment, Alan can explore hidden places and fight different enemies. All of this expands the story and the mystery surrounding the dark place. There is so much going on in this chaotic world! With all the excitement of solving the puzzles and wondering what happens next, Alan Wake II keeps you on your toes with an abundance of eerie environments and several jump scares.
Something I absolutely love about Remedy Entertainment games is the mixture of media. Similar to previous titles, Remedy Entertainment includes live action segments in Alan Wake II. There are cutscenes and collectibles in the game that will trigger a live action scene with the actors of the characters. Not many games include live action sequences and I quite enjoy them! Another element that I love about Remedy Entertainment games are the musical levels incorporated in the game. One of the greatest chapters in Alan Wake II is the 15 minute or so musical number in the game. If you know, you know and do not spoil it for those yet to experience it! Remedy Entertainment games are very unique as the incorporate various forms of media in the form of collectibles or cutscenes for the player to experience. Alan Wake II pushes the gaming experience forward with its innovations.
There are many recurring characters and callbacks to other games in the Remedy Entertainment Universe, you would be doing a disservice to yourself if you do not play the previous games. The most important titles to play are Alan Wake (obviously) and Control. Alan Wake II is a direct sequel of Alan Wake and knowing what Alan has been through is important to understanding what is going on. There are many characters from the first game that are relevant to this game as they make appearances and help (or hinder) Alan on his journey to escape the Dark Place. Control is also recommended in my opinion for two reasons. One, the Federal Bureau of Control is directly involved in most of Alan Wake II. Knowing who they are and what they do is important, but also Control has a DLC surrounding Alan Wake’s story. Control: AWE sets up the events of Alan Wake II. There is so much lore that a player will miss if you do not play Alan Wake and Control at the bare minimum. There is a smaller game called Alan Wake’s American Nightmare which is one attempt of Alan’s escape from the Dark Place. The most important element of this game is learning more about a major antagonist that haunts Alan in Alan Wake II. This game has more of an arcade feel with its looping levels and alternate game modes. It is an enjoyable experience in my opinion, but also not required in order to understand Alan Wake II. Although Remedy Entertainment currently does not have the rights to Quantum Break, there are several heavily implied crossovers. Therefore, if you enjoy Remedy Entertainment games, then I would suggest playing Quantum Break, but would not deem it crucial to playing to understand Alan Wake II.
Will we see more of Alan Wake? The answer is yes! Remedy Entertainment have already announced DLC that you can preorder. The first expansion is titled, Night Springs, which is a fiction television show akin to the Twilight Zone that Alan Wake used to write for. For now, all we know is this DLC will include familiar characters in the Alan Wake universe in an episode of Night Springs. A second DLC called, The Lake House, will also be released. This DLC will continue the shared adventure of Saga Anderson and Alan Wake. We also know that this will involve the Federal Bureau of Control as the Lake House is a facility the Bureau uses to keep an eye on the paranormal activities at Cauldron Lake. I speculate this DLC will tease the events of Control 2 which Remedy Entertainment has already announced is in the works. I am so excited for these DLCs to be released! I have already pre-ordered them through the deluxe version of Alan Wake II. As there are no release dates yet for these expansions, if they follow the Control DLC launches, then we can expect Night Springs to launch in 5 to 6 months post Alan Wake II launch with The Lake House launching 5 to 6 months after Night Springs.
Going into 2023, Alan Wake II was my most anticipated game! It certainly lived up to the hype I had generated over the years as I eagerly awaited its arrival, however it even surpassed it! I could not believe what I had played. Alan Wake II was brilliant in every sense. From its gameplay and level design, to the characters we interact with, you can see how much the developers cared about Alan’s story. If you have not played Alan Wake II yet, what are you waiting for?
BIO: Liv writes for Podcasters United. When she's not gaming, she's watching sports! Looking for more of Liv’s video game and sports takes? Follow her over on Twitter: