This profoundly cryptic closing line of Alan Wake, stated by the titular author with epiphanic surprise and aptly tailed by a smash cut to black, has been something I’ve mused on for a long time.
Much like Alan, fans have spent thirteen years in a hellish limbo, not knowing whether Remedy’s own Stephen King horror novel come to life might ever continue. Quantum Break, an exclusive shackled to a languishing console, didn’t quite make the waves the developer might have hoped for, while Control, a cleverly budgeted labyrinthian mystery, certainly did. Seemingly overnight, and with several Game of the Year awards in tow, Remedy earned the recognition they’d long deserved.
Despite Alan’s appearances in Control’s expansions, confirming a shared universe for Remedy’s works, it seemed impossible that we’d see the writer get his sequel. That is until a teaser debuted at The Game Awards in 2021—at last, a continuation for the ellipsis Alan Wake left us hanging on.
Alan Wake II introduces Saga Anderson to the mix. Having arrived in Bright Falls to investigate a string of grisly murders, Saga serves as the game’s co-protagonist, sharing half of the screen time with Alan himself. However, just as Alan did before her, Saga finds herself stumbling across manuscript pages—this time penned by Alan as he desperately tries to escape The Dark Place—that describe in horrifying and prophetic detail a future that awaits her.
Although I’m still mystified as to how Remedy are going to pull off Saga and Alan’s duelling narratives, given we’re going to allegedly be able to regularly swap between the two whenever we choose. Or not. It sounds as though how the narrative unfurls may be player-driven, which sounds incredible and like the kind of challenge Remedy’s capable writing team might set for themselves.
The hands-off presentation we viewed, which was a near-beta build running on PlayStation 5, showed off an extended cut of Saga trawling the outskirts of Cauldron Lake in search of slain agent Robert Nightingale, whose body has gone walkabout from the morgue.
Outside of detailing Saga’s investigation, the demo cemented tone, atmosphere, and features that would be at home in the best survival horror titles. Not unlike how Resident Evil handles its maps, Alan Wake II’s world will be made up of Bright Falls, Cauldron Lake, and Watery—a trio of explorable hubs that’ll open their paths to players the more they advance the twisting narrative. Remedy’s sequel also overhauls the inventory system from the original, this time offering the expandable space management seen in traditional horror games.
Most will have found Alan Wake a little eerie—after all, being chased through the foggy Pacific Northwestern woods by shroud-clad maniacs doesn’t tend to put one on edge. Alan Wake II is expected to take things to darker extremes, diving fully into survival horror territor
Brandishing light as a weapon continues to be one of the central pillars of Alan Wake’s combat, it’s a link Saga establishes and wields early on, going so far as to pin it to her case board within her Mind Place, a mental construct Saga can retreat into to link clues together, read Alan’s manuscript pages, and profile suspects. It’ll be interesting to see whether this seemingly supernatural cognition is exclusive to Saga and how that’s explained within the plot.
Break rooms and safe havens return to give players a chance to breathe, which I suspect I’ll be thankful for in the long run. Alan Wake II is scary. But don’t expect to see coffee thermoses, one of the series’ many allusions to Twin Peaks, return as things to collect in-game. On this occasion, they’ll serve as a save point for the player, a nod to Resident Evil’s iconic typewriter.
One of the other big narrative developments that emerged from ‘The Heart’—the mission we got to see—is The Overlap. If Saga occupies the real world and Alan is trapped within The Dark Place, The Overlap blurs the line between the two, delivering a shifting version of reality that Alan’s nightmarish New York bleeds into.
Although Sam Lake has been clear that Alan Wake II can be enjoyed as its own beast, I’m not exactly sure why you’d rob yourself of the team’s care, clever nods to the Remedy shared universe, and anticipation that longing for closure to Alan’s story warrants.
Alan Wake II releases on October 17 for PS5, Xbox Series X|S and PC.