Following Control’s DLC crossover Altered World Events and Alan Wake’s 2021 remaster, a sequel to Remedy’s sleeper dark thriller seemed a full-blown conclusion. Announced at The Game Awards 2021 with a cryptic teaser trailer, Alan Wake 2 is promised by Remedy Entertainment as their first foray into survival horror, dialling down the action in favour of tense psychological torment. Here’re 15 things we don’t want to see when Alan Wake 2 steps out of the shadows.
Removing episodic format
David Lynch’s surrealist TV series Twin Peaks is an obvious influence on Alan Wake, not just in its gloomy, pine-scented isolation, but in its action being divided into TV-like episodes, each with theme music, recaps, and cliff-hanger endings. It’s one of Alan Wake’s standout features which Remedy would do well to maintain.
Too much action-orientated gameplay
Alan Wake 2 is slated to be Remedy’s first attempt survival horror. Judging by the game’s concept art it appears to be the creepy, early Resident Evil flavour rather than the bombastic action characterised in Resident Evil 5 & 6. This is a good thing; spinoff Alan Wake’s American Nightmare leaned more towards gun toting action, and whilst fun to play it lacked the psychological element Alan Wake’s particular brand of horror needs to thrive.
To have played all previous entries to understand Alan Wake 2
Gracefully, it seems this point won’t come true as Remedy’s Sam Lake has confirmed players needn’t have played Alan Wake, associated DLC, spinoffs, and Control DLC tie-in to understand the story of Alan Wake 2. Although it’s probably advisable to at least play through Alan Wake’s first foray into Bright Falls, it’s heartening to know this isn’t a pre-requisite to getting the best out of Alan Wake 2. After all, American Nightmare is only available on Windows and Xbox 360; it’s likely this spinoff won’t be considered canon for this reason.
Alan Wake’s formula for combat is simple and effective: shine a light on the blurry shadow clad Taken to remove their shadowy shields then spray them full of bullets to eliminate. With The Taken resembling the form of animals and everyday objects as well as humans, Alan Wake leans into a particularly unique brand of paranoia where seemingly anything and everything could be an enemy. Unfortunately, this shine-and-shoot strategy becomes a little formulaic the further the game progresses and is an area Remedy will look to add variety.
Over-reliance on battery scavenging
Tight resource management is bread and butter for survival horror, and with Alan’s necessity for light sources to expose Bright Falls’ hostile enemies this meant batteries were gold dust. It’s a trope often seen in the genre, and to be honest, the constant hunt for batteries to power torches became a little tiresome. Batteries are supposed to last for ages, not run out every five minutes. With Alan Wake 2 appearing to occupy time in neon-lit city streets, perhaps there’ll be alternative light sources less reliant on batteries which our titular writer can utilise.
Mr Scratch to not feature
In Alan Wake 2’s teaser trailer, those with eagle eyes will have spotted the advertising chalkboard on the right-hand sidewalk of a derelict Bright Falls scene. The quote of the day: ‘Your friends will meet him when you’re gone’ is a direct reference to Mr Scratch. Remember, Thomas Zane says these exact words to Alan after he meets Mr Scratch for the first time under Cauldron Lake. Defeated in Alan Wake’s American Nightmare but very much hinted as resurrected in Control’s Alan Wake DLC crossover Altered World Events, it appears Mr Scratch is active and perhaps the sequel’s primary antagonist.
Another point which thankfully shouldn’t come true; despite Sam Lake at Remedy stating Alan Wake 2 can be played without knowledge of any prior Alan Wake titles, there still needs to be continuity throughout the series. So, confirmation that voice actor Matthew Porretta is reprising his role as Alan alongside Ilkka Villi who’ll be providing his likeness is motion capture is very welcome. Whilst we don’t know a lot about the plot, there’re indications original characters are set to return too such as Alex Casey, Barry Wheeler, and Alice Wake.
Alan as unlikeable protagonist
Okay, so subjective opinion but isn’t Alan a tad irritating? Whether it’s down to his frustrations because of his two-year long writer’s block, but the Alan who travels to Bright Falls with his wife Alice is whiny, obsessive, and a shade selfish, reacting with petulance at her surprise gift of a typewriter. His valour in saving his wife throughout the game’s narrative means Alan isn’t an irredeemable character. Hopefully, the battle-hardened Alan we play as in Alan Wake 2 will be more likeable from the get-go.
Alan’s insistence on narrating the unfolding action himself is certainly intriguing at first but becomes tedious and self-aggrandising as the show goes on. With Alan Wake 2 slated to be a full-on survival horror, it’s not clear how self-narration and tense scares can co-exist. It’ll be interesting to see how Remedy implement narration if they do decide to stick with it as it may seem over-the-top when describing survival horror action.
Less than top-notch writing
Alan, as we all know, is a celebrated dark fiction writer, seemingly one of the top novelists in the world. Yet, for someone so lauded, the standard of his writing isn’t always stellar. Take this example, from page 3 of Alan’s ‘Departure’ manuscript: “The taken stood before me. It was impossible to focus on it, as if it stood in a blind spot caused by a brain tumour or an eye disease.” An exciting prospect is discovering a manuscript which chillingly foretells upcoming events, but arguably the standard of writing in Alan’s novel is juvenile and unrefined, coming across more as teen slasher flick rather than the sophistication of Stephen King.
Zero Control crossover
We know for a fact Alan Wake and Remedy’s 2019 telekinetic thriller Control exist in a shared universe. How cool would it be for this crossover to continue in Alan Wake 2? We already know that sections of Alan Wake 2 take place in New York, which for those who need reminding is the location of the Federal Bureau of Control’s Oldest House. It’s not out of the question FBC Director Jesse Faden could make an appearance, but the real question is would she see Alan as friend or foe?
Open world game
Alan Wake was originally developed as an open world survival game, but during development Remedy struggling to merge exploratory gameplay with the thrilling story they needed to tell, so the open world framework was abandoned for a more linear, episodic format. By and large, open world games do struggle to maintain narrative momentum; a strong story is one of Alan Wake’s standout features, and one which an open world game wouldn’t have supported.
To not be scary
Okay, obviousness aside, what is a survival horror game if it isn’t scary? So far, we’ve not really seen anything in Alan Wake 2’s teaser footage which hints at truly horrifying. Remedy is certainly capable of delivering psychological torment which is arguably more scary than overt monsters and jump scares, so the prospect of Alan Wake 2 scaring the bejesus out of us looks good.
To be buggy on launch
This concern is borne out of CrossfireX’s disastrous launch and Control’s buggy start. For the former, CrossfireX is a free-to-play shooter developed by Smilegate Entertainment but with Remedy handling the single player portion of the game, developing the campaign in their own northlight game engine (the same engine Alan Wake 2 is being developed in). The campaign, sadly, underwhelmed. And when Control launched, it was a buggy mess on most platforms. Issues which were swiftly ironed out in subsequent patches, but Control’s review scores were irrevocably harmed. Hopefully Alan Wake 2 is neither underwhelming nor buggy.
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