Looking for a comprehensive Alan Wake 2 Review? We’ve got you covered! Re-enter the horrors that befell a scenic town in Washington back in 2010, Bright Falls home of Deerfest, and a sinister secret beneath the wave’s embrace. Here is our Alan Wake 2 Review.
13 years after the nightmare that tore through the town, a new mystery emerges. Sent to investigate are FBI Agents Alex Casey and Saga Anderson, after learning that their newest victim is a familiar face they embark down the rabbit hole in search of answers to a mystery they don’t yet understand.
Developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Epic Games this sequel has been a long time coming and even changes to a full-on horror game. Where the original game would have been categorized as a Psychological Thriller game, Alan Wake 2 is a straight-up Horror that has instances of psychological thrills.
The game begins in such a way that it is more puzzling than anything, surreal and almost like a dream you play through the events that lead to Saga Anderson’s investigation pathline. Hunting for answers Saga soon concludes that they are dealing with a group of individuals, and even hypothesised that it is some sort of cult. Continuing her investigation brings her to learn of the existence of the Manuscript of events which Wake has written.
Following the leads that are outlined in the manuscript, leads her to a supernatural event called an Overlap where she first encounters Wake and finally starts to piece things together. Leading her on a path to find the truth about events and even alter them she meets prominent residents and Rockstars of Bright Falls, Tor and Odin Anderson.
On the other side of the story is Alan Wake, a writer who went missing in 2010 at Cauldron Lake. His story, at first seems to run parallel to Saga’s, however, as you delve deeper into Wake’s story you soon learn that his tale is before the events of Saga’s and her actions have an impact on the Dark Place.
Overall the story is interesting and will keep you thinking if what you know is really what is playing out, we won’t ruin the experience as it is pretty interesting. It is worth noting that the story can be played in whatever order you would like after chapter 5. This might sound slightly crazy but hear us out. Chapters 1 – 5 are scripted and will introduce you to a rough idea of the events taking place, upon completing chapter 5 you will have the option to progress either Saga or Wake’s story. Personally, we recommend playing both at the same time alternating every few chapters, so that you don’t lose track of what is happening with your other character.
GRAPHICS & GAMEPLAY:
The gameplay mechanics have been drastically improved from the first game and even to the point where you can feel the horror mechanics of games like Resident Evil 2/ 3 Remake. That being said it’s not a bad thing what the team at Remedy did. Although it feels like another third-person horror game at times you can get the sense that you are isolated and alone, which matches well with Alan Wake’s premise. Mechanically everything has been improved from the first game and works well in this new concept. Unlike the first game, you have an item box and storage in this game. This means that you will need to play smart and only carry what you need, unlike the first game where you seemingly had bottomless pockets.
Other changes include a personal space for each character to “think” about the situation they are in. For Saga, this is the Mind Palace and for Wake, this is the Writers Room. Since Saga is an FBI agent and a detective her gameplay revolves around solving crimes and having a Mind Palace that reflects that means she can analyse and deduce inquiry paths. Wake on the other hand has the Writer’s Room, which revolves around his ability as a writer and means that he can control how the story will flow to some degree.
There is an RPG-type aspect to the game as well. Although it is pretty linear in how the game plays out, you do have some control over some of the dialogue options in progressing the story. These are only sections that will let the player gain more information on progressive tasks, but still worth noting.
Combat is basic and what you might expect. You use a torch to burn the Darkness Shield off enemies and a gun to dispatch them. Where this sounds like another Third-Person Shooter, you would be mistaken as there are some differences, that pull it back to the vision of Alan Wake. Firstly there is the Light, light is an important weapon in Alan Wake as it is what you use to fight the darkness, makes sense light dispels the dark, and even children know that. Another way it differs is more to do with Wake’s side of the game, although not strictly a combat tool is Zane’s Lamp. This is a tool that can hold a light source and transport it somewhere else. We have included it here as you can use it to create a “Safe Zone” if you have a charge. Technically a cheat, but if you have Taken around you this is a valid strategy.
A final note about gameplay is the save system. There are 3 manual save slots that can be accessed in safe areas. These Save points are a familiar site to any return Bright Falls fan as it is the Oh Dear Dinner Thermos. In the first game, you needed to collect 100 of these for a trophy however in Alan Wake 2 they act as a save point. Strangely, fitting for law enforcement personnel to be sitting drinking coffee as highlighted by Casey’s total disregard for grabbing a coffee no matter the urgency. While this was nice to see I would have liked them as a collectable again. That’s not to say there isn’t way more than the game needs to be collected but I think it would have been a nice call back to the first game, especially if they had a little quirk about them.
Graphically the game is amazing and although there are faults with it, sometimes it looks like you can walk through the screen. Really what Remedy did from the original game is worlds apart, and after playing through Alan Wake 2 I would really like to see a remake of the first game with this quality. Each environment feels alive and lived in, both Bright Falls and New York.
In conclusion, the game is a masterpiece, however, with all masterpieces there are problems. Although I really enjoyed the game over the 32 hours of gameplay, I found it lacking. Compared to the original game, Alan Wake 2 is really the game we deserved but I was bored at times since the environments are so sprawling and there weren’t many random Taken Encounters. What I mean is when you stepped out of the light in the original it was like someone ringing the dinner bell in a lion enclosure, you would get attacked pretty frequently and although it got irritating it made you want to push through. In Alan Wake 2 on the other hand I found very few random encounters in the world, there were a good number of Scripted ones which were nice like when you pick a collectable or complete a rhyme. I would have liked more randomness in the encounters with the environments being so varied and open, I even tried to force encounters by standing around without the torch on but nothing seemed to happen.
On the other side of this, the encounters you have that are scripted are about the right amount to not feel overwhelmed or underpowered in situations. I feel like this was a trade-off since in the chapter Return 7 Summoning you get the battle against the Taken that is worthy of the rest of the game’s lack of Random Taken. I mean seriously if this was to mimic the “Child of the Elder Gods” sequence in the first game they got it down to a fine art. Really that one segment of the game makes the lack of random encounters all worth it, who wouldn’t want another go at the “Child of the Elder Gods” from the first game?
As previously stated the game is a graphical wonder and personally I would have loved to be able to touch some of these worlds, they look and feel so real it’s hard to believe that you’re playing an action-oriented horror game. Although that is said we do have some bad news for you which is the Live-Action sequences while playing as Alan Wake. This kind of broke the illusion for me, only while playing story-related elements, however. Let’s face it, I paid for a Video Game, and that’s what I want, so why have I got a movie sequence in the middle performing some exposition? To give Remedy credit they are pretty good, especially the ones with Sam Lake, seeing some of the things he goes through in Live-Action makes them worthwhile, not to mention he is the face and voice of Alex Casey. Quantum Break did the same back in 2016, however, the only reason we want it known, is Alan Wake 2’s Live-Action Sequences are much more manageable. As a gamer, I don’t like when a developer tries this, especially with such a marvelous game, however, I respect and understand that it was done for a reason and it might have sped up production. Really I shouldn’t complain about the Live-Action sequences as much as I have, as they are good, and when compared to gameplay or in-game cutscenes they are of equal quality. Whereas most games would dip a little switching between a Live-Action performance to Real-Time Rendering Alan Wake 2 has a perfect flow of this, even to the standard where Live-Action is seamlessly merged into Real-Time Rendering.
Even though we have gone over a lot and wanted to avoid showing all the little bugs and giving away too much of this incredible game, we have some that we wanted to share, however, they are by no means bad just things that caught our attention. For starters, we felt a little cheated when the detail that was put into the game was so alive and the expectations of simple things were missing. We are of course referring to the reflections of characters in glass and mirrored surfaces, we are discounting water and puddles as the reflections only happened at a distance for the author. There are plenty of surfaces that should cast character reflections however it has been drastically cheated by giving a blurry silhouette of the character you are playing. While this isn’t a bad thing it was enough of an annoyance to catch our attention and distract us from the vibrant world that was built. Secondly, there were invisible or broken enemies, although this only happened on 2 occasions, after a few hours of play, this made it difficult to know if enemies could be killed. Granted that the fazing of the darkness around enemies makes them distort and look invisible at times this is actually the character mesh not being present. Third is Ragdolling. Ragdolling enemies is a physics thing that we have come to know in games, as physics applies in the real world therefore it needs to be applied to a simulated one. Unfortunately, Simulations are only that and they don’t always go as planned, I am sure you all know what we are referring to. Finally, we have the most common problem most gamers will see, which is world clipping. No matter what the game is working in 3D you will always get this, there is no exception, call it a constant, but Alan Wake 2 is pretty good at hiding these things out of the sight of the player, we have supplied an obvious one that you would only find while looking around your environment, in addition to the bonus of water clipping. Water Clipping is only present when you have something that is below the water line. While you can see there is geometry below the water outlining the shape of whatever it is (Our example is a boat) it is transparent and really distorted making it seem unreal.
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