Alan Wake 2 evaluation: Specs
Platforms: PC, PS5 (reviewed), Xbox Collection X
Launch Date: October 27, 2023
Style: Survival horror
It’s form of miraculous that Alan Wake 2 exists. Launched in 2010, the primary Alan Wake was removed from a industrial smash, however it developed a much-deserved cult following through the years. Developer Treatment subsequently moved on to different tasks, and for some time, it appeared the probabilities of the unique’s cliffhanger ending being resolved have been distant.
Quick ahead 13 years, and it’s surreal to say that Alan Wake 2 now really exists. And it provides me nice pleasure to verify that this long-awaited sequel is simply as esoteric, surreal and downright weird as its predecessor. However, that’s to not say Alan Wake 2 doesn’t carve out its personal distinctive id. Treatment has well tightened up the gameplay and switched Wake from an action-shooter to a full-blown survival horror expertise.
Alan Wake 2 takes some massive swings, and whereas a few of them miss the mark, it’s laborious to not admire the immense ambition on show. In a gaming business that’s too typically dominated by formulaic sequels developed with the mass market in thoughts, Treatment has crafted the online game equal of an auteur filmmaker being given a clean cheque. And that’s the sport’s greatest power, but in addition its most irritating flaw. Learn on for our full Alan Wake 2 evaluation…
An actual page-turner
Set 13 years after the unique, Alan Wake 2 spins a splendidly meta plot that’s advised by way of two intertwining characters. The eponymous author who’s trapped in a distorted nightmare world often known as The Darkish Place, and newcomer Saga Anderson, an FBI agent arriving within the mountain city of Shiny Falls to analyze a string of grisly murders.
Alan Wake 2 wears its influences on its sleeve. Its story is a potent combine combining the very best bits of HBO’s True Detective (notably the acclaimed first season) and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, with a great splash of Stephen King thrown for good measure. It makes for a particular narrative, and whereas I count on some gamers will discover its frequent weird detours alienating, in the event you’re prepared to immerse your self within the odd expertise, you simply would possibly end up hooked.
Unexplained abnormalities are a frequent incidence. An early chapter has you wander right into a rural bar to discover a janitor (a returning character from 2019’s Management) singing karaoke, whereas one recurring phase has Alan Wake seem on a late-night discuss present to advertise his new ebook — there’s simply the slight drawback that he has no reminiscence of writing the novel in query. Should you demand a rational rationalization for every scene, put together for disappointment.
Treatment additionally splices in live-action footage all through Alan’s portion of the sport, and these scenes are pleasantly efficient at growing the sport’s cinematic high quality. Don’t fear, there’s nothing as immersion-breaking as Quantum Break’s 30-minute TV present episodes. The live-action clips are interspersed with gameplay and really feel pure relatively than distracting.
Only for the file, whilst you don’t want to have performed Alan Wake Remastered earlier than diving into Alan Wake 2, I’d strongly advocate doing so. The unique has held up fairly properly, and essentially the most fascinating moments of this sequel will solely totally join in the event you’ve acquired priors with Alan Wake’s plight, and the spooky occasions he skilled in Shiny Falls.
Mild ’em up
The core fight mechanic of Alan Wake 2 hasn’t modified from its predecessor. Downing the hordes of corrupted foes you face entails first weakening them with the extraordinary beam of a flashlight earlier than firing off a number of rounds from a wide range of firearms. It was a novel concept in 2010, and even now it stays extremely satisfying to zap enemies together with your supercharged torch, after which pump them filled with lead till they explode right into a bathe of sparks.
Nonetheless, Alan Wake 2 strikes away from the action-shooter emphasis of its predecessor in favor of a survival horror method that feels impressed by the current Resident Evil remakes. Stock administration and cautious use of your sources are key to survival. It ends in considerably intense fight encounters. Miss even a few pictures and also you’ll be confronted with the sport’s extremely disturbing recreation over display.
Sadly, there’s an actual lack of enemy selection. Whether or not taking part in as Saga in Shiny Falls or Alan in The Darkish Place, most enemies merely rush at you and strike with a membership, axe or fists. A couple of enemies change issues up by throwing explosive projectiles however familiarity creeps in rapidly, which diminishes the dread that early fight encounters elicit. There are solely so many instances a cultist in a creepy deer masks can bumrush you earlier than the scary impact begins to wane.
Nonetheless, you received’t have time to get too bored of dealing with off towards the identical few enemy varieties, as there’s much less fight than you would possibly count on. The primary Alan Wake was criticized for tediously lengthy stretches of repetitive fight, and Treatment oversteers in its efforts to appropriate. This drawback is most obvious within the early levels. In the course of the first 4 hours of my 16-hour playthrough, I solely fought round half a dozen enemies and was craving a tad extra motion.
Piecing issues collectively
You’ll spend a substantial amount of your time in Alan Wake 2 investigating the central paranormal case as Saga, and fixing summary puzzles as Alan. The previous sections are gripping, whereas the latter are sporadically riveting but in addition characteristic the sport’s most irritating moments.
Throughout Saga’s portion of the sport, you’ll come throughout a lot of environmental clues that may be sorted by in your “Thoughts Place”. This interactive space might be accessed at any time with a single button press and allows you to map out all the data and character profiles you’ve collected. It’s an effective way of preserving tabs on what you’ve investigated through the recreation’s many mysteries, and makes following the high-concept story remarkably simple.
Saga’s marketing campaign as a complete accommodates the lion’s share of Alan Wake 2’s finest moments. Not solely is Saga a fantastically well-realized character in her personal proper, however a number of of her chapters mesh fight and rewarding exploration expertly. You possibly can sort out Alan and Saga ranges in any order, and whereas I counsel alternating between the 2 for thematic causes, I very a lot appeared ahead to returning to Saga each time I converted to Alan.
Alan’s chapters throughout the evershifting Darkish Place are considerably much less participating and a few of them are downright infuriating. For starters, fight encounters are ruined by the choice to put dummy enemies each few steps. These innocent shadows merely whisper sinister taunts however they make it very laborious to inform in the event you’ve eradicated all of the rapid threats in an space. The overuse of a distortion impact in The Darkish Place additional compounds this concern.
Exterior of fight, Alan’s chapters boil right down to repetitive puzzles that quantity to little greater than trial-and-error experimentation. These sections see Alan rewriting the world round him by combining a location with a story set off. On paper, it’s a intelligent approach of blending Alan’s occupation as a author into the gameplay, however in apply, these puzzles are vastly mundane.
Being continuously pressured to endure by one other puzzle part as Alan vastly harms the general pacing. Extra broadly, stuttering momentum is a frequent drawback general. At the same time as Saga, you’ll endure lengthy stretches with none fight and with just a little an excessive amount of data to type by within the Thoughts Place. The gradual opening act is especially responsible on this regard.
Hey, good lookin’
Even when Alan Wake 2 had me feeling annoyed, it’s nonetheless by no means something lower than a visible marvel. Taking part in on PS5, it appears like a real showcase of the ability of Sony’s present flagship console, and in the event you’re the form of gamer who enjoys taking screenshots, count on your playtime to be virtually doubled as you’ll wish to pause each few seconds to seize a surprising snap.
It’s not simply the graphics which are downright jaw-dropping, both. The visible design is really stellar. Every location you go to as Saga is extraordinarily intricate, with the small city’s middle map being a private spotlight. I spent a number of minutes aimlessly wandering the highly-detailed streets window buying, earlier than remembering I used to be there to resolve a homicide. The Darkish Place’s design can also be extremely imposing. That’s if you’re permitted to take pleasure in its unsettling sights with out all of the pointless distortion results and playtime-padding puzzles.
Unsurprisingly, audio high quality matches the implausible visuals. The voice performing is remarkably robust with Melani Liburd as Saga and Ilkka Villi as Alan carrying the burden of the sport’s expansive story with ease. Particular shout out to recreation director Sam Lake, who inserts himself into the proceedings as Saga’s companion and David Harewood because the charismatic but in addition very perturbing discuss present host Warlin Door. Plus, the sound design is impeccable. Audio results are used to ratchet up the stress in all the proper methods.
Alan Wake 2 units a excessive technical bar, however it’s not fairly flawless. The Efficiency Mode on PS5 suffers from a variety of points together with occasional stuttering and screen-tearing. I additionally encountered a frequent glitch the place the case board within the Thoughts Place would malfunction and refuse to permit me to put new objects or change between energetic instances. A patch launched through the evaluation interval made this bug much less frequent, however it hasn’t been fully resolved.
Alan Wake packs loads of memorable highs, but in addition a number of disappointing lows that blemish the expertise. The sections the place you play as Saga are the place it shines brightest, however sadly stepping again into the sneakers of Alan is bumpier than it’s brilliant.
Even when Alan Wake 2 isn’t fairly the triumphant sequel I’ve spent 13 years dreaming about, I’m nonetheless totally glad it exists. Not solely does it lastly present some closure to the unique Alan Wake story — with sufficient room left for a follow-up — however it’s a recreation that takes real dangers, and we desperately want extra of these today.