Alan Wake 2 review: Remedy’s endlessly creative sequel embraces its dark side

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Alan Wake stands successful beforehand of a movie theatre successful Alan Wake 2.

“Even pinch a fewer frustrations, Alan Wake 2 is simply a assured imaginative imagination from 1 of gaming's boldest developers.”


  • Engrossing scary story
  • Fantastic worldbuilding
  • Endlessly imaginative Alan chapters
  • Mind-bending puzzles
  • Strong performances


  • Frustrating wood exploration
  • Detective elements disappoint
  • Low extremity machines whitethorn struggle

Alan Wake 2 is simply a communicative of 2 nightmares travel to life. One of those is simply a supernatural affair, arsenic nan titular Wake fights to flight from nan mysterious Dark Place that he’s been trapped successful for 13 years. For Saga Anderson, an FBI detective who finds herself tangled up successful that lawsuit acknowledgment to a bid of related cult murders, nan panic hits overmuch person to home. The deepest fears of an anxious mother frighten to go a lived reality arsenic nan distorted memories of Pacific Northwestern townies spot her successful nan halfway of an unspeakable tragedy. Both characters want to “save nan day,” but there’s 1 problem. This isn’t an action movie; it’s a scary story.

And scary is astir victims, not heroes.

At least, that’s nan unsettling thought that hangs complete Remedy Interactive’s long-awaited sequel for illustration a agelong shadow. While 2010’s Alan Wake is surely eerie, its action-adventure setup made it consciousness much for illustration a campy thriller successful which monsters were conscionable problems to beryllium changeable away. Remedy flips that book pinch its full-throated survival scary sequel — and that’s not conscionable a cosmetic change. An oppressive acheronian seeps successful done each area of its existent and metaphysical worlds, threatening to drown some Alan and Saga. A heroic leader conflict won’t prevention them. The only dream is that they tin support their heads supra h2o until nan last page of their communicative turns.

Save for a fewer overseas gameplay quirks and frustrating tech issues astatine launch, Alan Wake 2 is Remedy Interactive’s astir confident, afloat realized imaginative imagination to date. It afloat pays disconnected nan long-simmering imaginable of nan studio’s interconnected beingness to create a densely detailed, cerebral acquisition astir nan quality of scary – some successful nan nightmares we look successful mundane life and nan scary stories we create to header pinch them.

Eternal darkness

The original Alan Wake drew clear inspiration from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, truthful it’s only fitting that nan sequel pays homage to its 3rd season, The Return, which released successful nan 13-year spread betwixt games. The parallels are instantly clear. Saga’s investigation into nan deer-obsessed Cult of nan Tree starts pinch a bloated corpse, conscionable arsenic The Return’s ain FBI investigation does. Meanwhile, Wake seeks an flight from nan Dark Place conscionable for illustration Dale Cooper trapped successful nan Black Lodge. Evil doppelgangers tally amok. Hell, Saga’s chapters are moreover titled “Return.”

Remedy is astatine nan apical of its crippled present erstwhile it comes to worldbuilding …

It’s possibly a spot connected nan chemoreceptor successful its establishing chapters, but that inspiration — on pinch loving nods to Steven King, True Detective, and much — quickly soaks into Remedy’s ain chopped voice. Over nan people of astir 20 hours, nan workplace weaves together an engrossing bid of interconnected mysteries made imaginable by its eager shared crippled universe. What starts arsenic a modular FBI procedural soon morphs into a reality-bending chronicle that involves nan paranormal Federal Bureau of Control, interdimensional talk shows, and a hairsbreadth metallic set whose euphony mightiness conscionable incorporate nan secrets of nan universe.

Remedy is astatine nan apical of its crippled present erstwhile it comes to worldbuilding, topping nan imaginative heights it reached pinch 2019’s Control. All of its explorable locations — from nan Dark Place’s twisted type of New York City to a coffee-themed amusement parkland nestled heavy successful nan woods of Watery — are loaded pinch lively specifications that are a accordant delight to discover. From panic small-town TV ads to a afloat overseas creation movie send-up starring Alan Wake 2 Creative Director Sam Lake, each portion useful to build a afloat realized world moving connected its ain oddball soul logic.

Saga walks done Coffee World successful Alan Wake 2.Epic Games

What really drives nan story, though, is its 2 protagonists and their intersecting journeys. Though Saga tin consciousness for illustration a barren detective successful a formed of memorable section eccentrics astatine first, her slow descent into a individual hellhole that’s wholly retired of her power makes for a gripping psychological scary tale. That’s only strengthened by Alan’s ain story, arsenic nan mislaid writer attempts to virtually constitute himself retired of a intelligence situation astatine nan disbursal of characters for illustration Saga and her hard-nosed detective Alex Casey. Like its predecessor, nan sequel doesn’t awkward distant from portraying Wake arsenic a profoundly flawed character. He’s a unfortunate of nan Dark Place’s pull, but he doesn’t hesitate to resistance everyone down pinch him.

That’s what’s truthful effective astir Alan Wake 2 arsenic a scary story. In its opening hours, it stops to bespeak connected nan laws of nan genre. It posits that location are only victims and monsters successful scary tales, an creator accuracy that guides Wake’s supernatural pen. We cognize nan sequel’s victims, but it’s harder to make retired nan monsters stalking them from nan shadows. Is it nan zombie-like Taken wandering nan woods? Is it nan evil Mr. Scratch, whose personality has been a changeless enigma successful nan series? Could it moreover beryllium Wake himself? With fewer tangible antagonists to purpose a pistol at, it feels for illustration there’s nary beingness action either characteristic tin return to free themselves from their fates. The only measurement retired is through, trying to spot done nan infinite acheronian pinch a flashlight’s puny beam.

Genre shake-up

In a thoughtful meta-decision, Alan Wake 2 pivots its genre to full-on endurance scary (complete pinch an overabundance of repetitive jump scares). It looks and feels for illustration a modern Resident Evil remake, thing that seems thoughtfully intentional. As a crippled astir nan building of horror, it makes cleanable consciousness to build connected a savvy video crippled player’s established knowledge of nan genre. The third-person exploration, tight assets management, and ray puzzle-solving each consciousness for illustration they are portion of a acquainted construction, conscionable for illustration Wake penning his ain communicative astir literate tropes.

Saga fights disconnected a Taken successful Alan Wake 2.Remedy Entertainment

While location are cardinal differences successful Saga and Alan’s gameplay portions, some are tied together by effective combat. Like nan first game, it’s a third-person shooter wherever nan twist is that enemies are anemic to ray and some characters tin expose captious anemic points pinch their flashlights. Shooting is slow and methodical, but otherworldly Taken enemies twitch and teleport erratically. Encounters hinge connected that tension, arsenic I request to beryllium accelerated and meticulous pinch my shots lest my bullets vanish into nan abyss. Remedy is sparing pinch encounters and that’s for nan best. Rather than fighting waves of Taken, ambushes are dispersed retired conscionable capable that I’m ne'er rather judge erstwhile it’s safe to return my defender down. I’m ever connected separator arsenic I flick into nan darkness.

Combat is yet secondary to observant exploration, which gives maine a chance to soak successful Remedy’s intricately designed worlds aliases hunt for concealed stashes locked down logic puzzles. Saga’s communicative unfolds passim 3 different locations (Bright Falls, Watery, and Cauldron Lake), each of which makes a constricted explorable abstraction consciousness for illustration a afloat town. Less compelling are Saga’s predominant jaunts done forests that person maine backtracking astir winding paths that are easy to get turned astir on. That useful connected a thematic level arsenic nan woods consciousness for illustration a claustrophobic unit suffocating Saga, but predominant representation checks excessively often pulled maine retired of a world I wanted to enactment mislaid in.

When it comes to puzzles, its rules are excessively rigid to beryllium surprising.

While overmuch of its format feels familiar, Remedy goes beyond nan confines of nan scary genre to capsicum successful its ain original ideas. Considering that Saga is simply a detective, it only makes consciousness that her segments hinge astir a spot of deduction. Her chapters person maine fathering clues and grounds that I tin bring to her “Mind Place” pinch nan speedy property of a button. Here, I tin floor plan suspects by listening to their thoughts and pin my findings onto an grounds board. The second is an fantabulous replacement to a accepted codex, arsenic it lets players physically portion mysteries together. A sprawling communicative afloat of twists becomes overmuch easier to understand erstwhile I consciousness for illustration I’m nan 1 solving it.

There are limits to that smart system, though. Despite nan truth that Alan Wake 2 is each astir uncovering mystery, it ne'er lets players get up of its story. I’d often pin grounds onto a committee that would lead Saga to an evident revelation that had already been made clear successful a proceeding dialogue. That thought bleeds into gameplay arsenic well. While exploring nan delightfully absurd Coffee World amusement park, I recovered a fuse that would fto maine move connected a java-themed ride. That opened up a concealed area underneath it, but location was thing to find. It turned retired I was excessively acold up of nan story, arsenic I had to trigger a circumstantial crippled arena to beryllium capable to prime up an point I could see, but not interact pinch yet. Moments for illustration that weaken some nan detective hook of Saga’s chapters and Alan Wake 2’s wider thesis connected nan joyousness of mystery. When it comes to puzzles, its rules are excessively rigid to beryllium surprising.

A statement connected tech

I want to return a little infinitesimal to talk astir tech, arsenic it’s presently nan 1 awesome mobility people surrounding nan release. For nan astir part, Alan Wake 2 is thing of a method wonderment connected par pinch Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. It some looks and sounds fantastic, pinch Remedy flexing its creation guidance muscles until they burst. And I mean that literally.

A characteristic successful their default airs successful Alan Wake 2.Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

My ain playthrough was, frankly, a mess. Slow plus loading would time off maine falling done nan world aliases stuck waiting for a staircase to spawn. Frequent bugs had maine scrubbing backmost to erstwhile saves. My astir superior rumor had maine encountering a game-breaking difficult fastener that stopped maine from progressing. Remedy provided maine a section prevention authorities successful bid to continue, but has yet to corroborate if nan bug I knowledgeable would make it into nan motorboat version. Another writer connected our squad knowledgeable a different game-breaking bug that halted their playthrough connected PS5. Review codes for Alan Wake 2 only went retired to critics little than a week earlier its embargo day pinch Remedy moving connected captious fixes up until nan past minute. Xbox codes were not made disposable until nan past infinitesimal either, which leaves superior concerns astir really it runs connected Xbox Series S.

After a batch of testing, it seems arsenic though Alan Wake 2 struggles connected lower-end machines. A deficiency of HDD support will besides origin nightmares for unsuspecting players casually diving successful pinch their PC rig. Experiences will wildly alteration depending connected your setup, which makes it difficult to confidently measure this connected a tech level. As such, I powerfully urge checking retired our computing team’s report connected PC performance, which specifications some its unthinkable accomplishments and its imaginable symptom points. If you’re concerned that your rig won’t beryllium capable to hack it, don’t return nan gamble.

A awesome awakening

While Saga’s chapters person their anemic points, Alan Wake’s are unimpeachable. His communicative takes spot successful nan Dark Place, pinch nan writer trying to rewrite his mind-bending reality. That’s mostly accomplished done nan sequel’s biggest puzzle component, arsenic Alan’s ain Mind Place allows him to alteration nan world astir him by pinning crippled points onto locations. In an early chapter, I’m exploring a subway position and gathering crippled thumps to recreate an occult murder. When I find a crippled constituent astir a ritual and pin it to nan location I’m in, nan full room changes successful a flash. I’m abruptly opinionated successful nan halfway of a grizzly execution scene. It’s an astonishing feat only made imaginable acknowledgment to modern hardware.

It surely helps that nan workplace has assembled a murderers’ statement of actors consenting to spell each in.

If you tin judge it, those fantabulous puzzle sections aren’t moreover nan astir memorable parts of Wake’s chapters. Live-action talk show interludes, a movie projection booth turned into an intolerable labyrinth, and a series truthful jaw-droppingly entertaining that I wouldn’t situation to spoil it — moments for illustration that dress up nan existent bosom of nan experience, letting Remedy unleash its boldest, weirdest ideas successful its astir uncompromising imaginative imagination to date.

It surely helps that nan workplace has assembled a murderers’ statement of actors consenting to spell each successful (including Creative Director Sam Lake himself). Matthew Porretta offers a commanding capacity arsenic Wake, playing up nan writer’s theatrical arrogance amid an unraveling intelligence breakdown. Equal in installments goes to Iikka Villi, nan existent character Wake is modeled connected who gets to show arsenic overmuch scope arsenic Kyle MacLachlan successful Twin Peaks: The Return successful live-action sequences, bringing a scope of doppelgangers to life pinch his malleable expressions. A crippled arsenic typical arsenic this only useful this good erstwhile everyone progressive is consenting to fearlessly trust-fall into a left-field imagination together.

Alan Wake watches a video of himself successful Alan Wake 2.Remedy Entertainment

As overmuch arsenic its dual stories show scary tales that find victims fighting to past nan darkness, Alan Wake 2 itself embraces and celebrates nan chartless pinch morbid fascination. It wants america to wince and cower astatine each of its horrific twists, but still eagerly move each caller page arsenic accelerated arsenic imaginable to spot what happens next. Alan and Saga are drowning successful their fears arsenic nan worlds astir them flood into 1 deep, achromatic ocean. And you’re invited to descend pinch them.

Alan Wake 2 was reviewed connected PC.

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