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An Unforgettable Journey : An Alan Wake II Review

Updated: Mar 11

Title image for Alan Wake 2 with red leave-less trees surrounding Alan's face
Image: Remedy Entertainment

The latest game from developer Remedy, Alan Wake II emerges not just as a sequel but as a monumental leap forward, establishing itself as an unparalleled narrative and gameplay experience that weaves the intricate suspense of Stephen King's narratives with the eerie, unsettling atmosphere reminiscent of David Lynch's Twin Peaks. Developed under the visionary guidance of Sam Lake, this survival horror game deepens the enigmatic journey of Alan Wake, thrusting players into the disturbingly dark place that the original game hinted at, now fully realized in a nightmare version of New York City. This sequel masterfully blends the psychological exploration of its main characters with the chilling lore surrounding Cauldron Lake, the Dark Presence, and the mythical Old Gods of Asgard, elevating the entire Alan Wake experience to new heights.


Gameplay in Alan Wake 2 is a refined evolution of its predecessor, introducing players for the first time to a more nuanced survival horror landscape. Combat encounters have been meticulously crafted, offering a richer set of dynamics that require the player to navigate the darkness with a strategic mix of light sources and firepower. This time, the presence of different settings—from the dense, fog-laden forests reminiscent of Cauldron Lake to the urban nightmare of New York—provides varied backdrops for the game's intense set pieces and combat encounters. Exploration is rewarding and full of surprises. The game world is vast, with a plethora of hidden paths and secret areas that encourage thorough exploration. The environments are not just beautifully rendered; they're intricately designed to tell a story and immerse the player further into the game's world. Puzzle-solving is seamlessly integrated into the gameplay, with puzzles that are challenging but fair. These puzzles often require the player to use both their wits and their understanding of the game's light mechanics, making them feel like a natural extension of the gameplay.

The enemies are varied and terrifying. Each enemy type presents a unique challenge, requiring the player to adapt their tactics. The AI is impressively designed, with enemies that are unpredictable and react realistically to the player's actions. This unpredictability keeps every encounter exciting and ensures that combat never feels repetitive or formulaic.

A perfect balance of combat, exploration, and puzzle-solving, all beautifully integrated with the game's narrative

What sets Alan Wake 2 apart is how seamlessly the gameplay is integrated with the narrative. The combat, exploration, and puzzle-solving all serve to advance the story and develop the game's characters. This integration ensures that the gameplay always feels meaningful and that each action the player takes contributes to the overarching narrative. Alan Wake 2 is a masterpiece of gameplay design. It offers a perfect balance of combat, exploration, and puzzle-solving, all beautifully integrated with the game's narrative and disturbing atmosphere. The game is a thrilling horror story experience from start to finish, with enough variety and depth to keep players engaged throughout. It's a shining example of how gameplay can enhance and elevate the storytelling in a video game, making Alan Wake 2 an unforgettable experience. 


The narrative intricately weaves together the events of the first game and the titular character, with FBI Agent Saga Anderson's investigation, presenting a case board of clues that players must decipher to understand the dark forces at play. The writer’s room concept, reminiscent of the collaborative storytelling found in the works of Stephen King and the episodic structure of The Twilight Zone, serves as a narrative hub, allowing players to dive deeper into Saga’s story and her connections to the Federal Bureau of Control. Moreover, the game's story pays homage to its surreal roots with nods to the Twin Peaks and David Lynch's unique storytelling style, creating a truly compelling story that feels both familiar and fresh. The integration of a mind place mechanic allows players to explore the psychological depths of the characters, particularly Alan Wake and Saga Anderson, in a manner that enriches the overall narrative and deepens the player's engagement with the game's world.

Alan Wake, as the protagonist, is more fleshed out than ever.

The narrative is a seamless blend of psychological thriller and supernatural horror, intertwined with themes of love, loss, and the struggle for redemption. It is exceptional, featuring a layered plot that is both thought-provoking and emotionally resonant. The game is rich with symbolism and metaphors, inviting players to not just passively experience the story but to interpret and find meaning in it and the pacing is masterful, with twists and revelations expertly woven into the fabric of the narrative, ensuring that the player is always on the edge of their seat. One of the standout aspects of Alan Wake 2 is its character development. Alan Wake, as the protagonist, is more fleshed out than ever. His journey in this sequel is not just a physical one but a deep exploration of his psyche. His character is relatable and human, grappling with inner demons and external challenges in a way that resonates with players. While newcomer Saga Anderson and her partner Alex Casey take you on a gripping investigative journey across crime scenes for a series of ritualistic murders. The supporting characters are equally well-developed, each contributing to the story in meaningful ways and adding layers to the narrative. 

Alan Wake 2's atmosphere is a character in its own right, delivering a disturbing ambiance that is as much a part of the narrative as the characters themselves. The use of lighting and shadow not only plays a critical role in gameplay but also enhances the game's foreboding atmosphere, making each moment in the game a thrilling, heart-pounding experience.

Voice Acting and Sound Design

The voice acting is a standout feature, with performances that bring the game's rich cast of characters to life. The actors deliver their lines with a remarkable level of nuance and emotion, making each character memorable and relatable. Props to Matthew Porretta as the protagonist's voice, in particular, captures the complex layers of his personality, from his inner turmoil to his determination to unravel the mysteries he's faced with. The sound design is equally impressive, with a meticulously composed soundtrack that perfectly complements the game's mood. Ambient sounds are carefully crafted, from the rustling of leaves in a forest to the eerie echoes in abandoned buildings, creating an atmosphere that is both immersive and disquieting. The sound effects during combat are crisp and impactful, adding a visceral layer to the gameplay experience.


Alan Wake 2 is maybe the best original horror game I have played in recent years. The game pays off the build-up from the end of the first game, while also setting the stage for future stories within this universe. The narrative's depth, combined with the improved gameplay mechanics, ensures that Alan Wake 2 is not just the best Remedy Entertainment game to date but also a landmark in video game storytelling. Alan Wake 2 stands as a testament to the power of video games as a medium for delivering rich, complex narratives. It takes players on a journey through a beautifully dark world, filled with mystery and horror, and leaves them pondering the whole thing long after the game has ended. With its deeply engaging story, enhanced combat and exploration mechanics, and atmospheric world, Alan Wake 2 delivers an experience that is unmatched, making it an absolute must-play for fans of the genre and newcomers alike and if it released earlier would have put up a fair fight against Baldurs Gate 3 for game of the year. Though I do have one improvement to suggest: more of the Finnish janitor Ahti.



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