Alan Wake 2: Dual Protagonists, Next-Gen Thrills

Explore Alan Wake 2: Dual protagonists, next-gen graphics, and a gripping narrative

Alan Wake 2 Review: Losing Control

Darkness Descends

The story of Alan Wake 2 unfolds through two protagonists: Alan Wake and Saga Anderson. Both characters share a similar playstyle but possess unique upgrades and gimmicks. Alan Wake’s unique feature is his plot board, while Saga Anderson has her case board. The plot board is particularly interesting as it allows Wake to change his surroundings, a crucial element for solving puzzles in his segment of the game. In contrast, Anderson’s case board, which had the potential to be intriguing, feels mostly underbaked. It’s meant to serve as an evidence board for a detective, but there isn’t much problem-solving involved to determine where each clue belongs. Towards the end of the game, I found it tedious and felt it added little value. In certain sections, I skipped using the case board entirely, finding it more entertaining when the game populated everything for me, having already solved the case.

While the two characters feel similar in combat and movement, their individual sections play out very differently. Wake is trapped in The Dark Place, navigating through a television night show and a deranged version of New York. Meanwhile, Anderson revisits a noticeably changed Bright Falls, last seen 13 years ago. The contrast between the two protagonists is well-executed, with distinctly different environments, characters, and atmospheres. The brief moments of levity, almost serving as intermissions in this multi-act play, are expertly crafted, offering a much-needed break from the game’s overall tense moments. Wake’s playthrough features a memorable gaming moment, so original and extraordinary that it elevates the game for me. Meanwhile, Anderson’s section has more charming characters, and I was personally a huge fan of the Koskela Brothers commercials.

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Technical Marvel

I celebrated building a new gaming PC with an RTX 4090 by playing Alan Wake 2, and it was an excellent choice to showcase the capabilities of my new rig. Technically, Alan Wake 2 is a marvel, marking the first game I’ve played that genuinely feels next-generation. The detailing, lighting, and atmosphere, at least on a PC that can enable all the bells and whistles, are jaw-dropping. Coming from a jaded gamer who feels like he’s witnessed every so-called monumental leap in technology, that’s high praise. I encountered some issues with the HDR implementation, as certain areas looked washed out, but this didn’t significantly detract from the game’s stunning detail from pixel to pixel. Some areas were a bit too dark for my liking, but one could argue that’s the whole point of the game. When daylight did creep through, the scenery in Bright Falls was breathtaking.

Combat Chaos

Before diving into Alan Wake 2, I decided to play through Alan Wake Remastered to refresh my memory of the original’s story and to compare Remedy Entertainment’s evolution as a developer. This approach highlighted the weaknesses in the combat system of both games. In Alan Wake Remastered, the combat system felt janky and was clearly not a strong point of the game. Surprisingly, Alan Wake 2 carried over many of the frustrating aspects of the combat system. I can appreciate that some of this frustration helps set the tense atmosphere of the game, but it still detracts from the experience.

If you played Alan Wake Remastered (or the original Alan Wake), then you’ll be familiar with the combat system in Alan Wake 2. While it is more polished than its predecessor, the core system remains intact: use your flashlight to weaken the enemy, then take it out with your weapon of choice. Given the flashlight’s finite battery, it’s frustrating to waste a charge on a dark figure that turns out to be harmless. The game allows you to slot eight weapons and items onto your quick-select hotbar, but unlike the first game, you can’t use your mouse wheel to scroll and change weapons on PC. This system becomes particularly tedious during intense combat when you need to use a healing item not on your hotbar. The cumbersome setup seems intentionally designed to enhance the game’s overall atmosphere, even though I found it annoying.

The combat system, while atmospheric, often feels more frustrating than fun. The controls are slightly clunky, and the limited ammunition and battery life for the flashlight add a layer of tension but also lead to repetitive encounters. Combat encounters lack the smooth, intuitive flow seen in other modern action games, like Remedy’s own Control. It’s a shame because the atmospheric buildup and eerie environments are top-notch, but the combat mechanics occasionally break the immersion.

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To make things worse, I found only one battle in the game somewhat memorable. An attempt to recreate a high point from the original Alan Wake fell flat, ruined by frustrating mechanics in that particular fight. If this was an attempt to have the player fully immersed in the character, I’d say it was unsuccessful. Unlike the smooth, intuitive combat found in Control, Alan Wake 2 retains some of the clunkiness of its predecessor. It’s reminiscent of the classic survival-horror mechanics seen in early Resident Evil games.

Writer’s Woes

One of my biggest gripes with a game centering around a writer is the writing itself. Alan Wake 2’s meta storytelling becomes convoluted, and in some sections, it feels overloaded with words but lacking in substance. I found it disjointed, although the cast remains mostly well-written and likable. The game allows the player to swap between Anderson and Wake’s storylines at certain points. Depending on how one chooses to play, the story could seem even more disconnected than my experience.

Alan Wake 2’s decision to let players choose the story’s order might not have been the best approach. For me, it didn’t come together coherently. The option to switch between the two protagonists seemed to add little value to the overall experience, adding to the confusion.

The narrative, while ambitious, often gets lost in its own complexity. The intertwining stories of Wake and Anderson sometimes feel disjointed, with certain plot points feeling forced or underdeveloped. The meta-narrative, which plays with the concept of storytelling within the story, can be intriguing but often falls into the trap of being overly convoluted, making it hard to follow the main plot.

Lost in Light

At this point, you might be wondering what parts of Alan Wake 2 I actually enjoyed. The truth is, the gameplay portions of Alan Wake 2 aren’t really that interesting. At its core, the game is a blend of a walking simulator with live-action cutscenes, plenty of dialogue, and a few interesting puzzles. Combat often feels more frustrating than fun. The sections of Alan Wake 2 that an average non-gamer might label as the “video game” parts are, frankly, underwhelming. However, gamers understand that video games have evolved far beyond mere gameplay mechanics.

A video game is now an entire interactive experience, one that no other form of media can deliver. Being fully immersed in a psychological horror game like Alan Wake 2 offers an experience vastly different from watching a scary movie or television series. Even when simply walking around a coffee-themed amusement park, the atmosphere Alan Wake 2 creates, particularly through its audio, is nearly indescribable. “But there are plenty of horror games out there,” I can hear you thinking. Yes, but none execute over-the-top, zany ideas as well as Alan Wake 2 does.

Musical Madness

I love talking about the importance of music in a video game. Consider Final Fantasy XIV, for instance. I firmly believe that without its exceptional soundtracks, the game wouldn’t feel as epic, particularly during raids and key emotional moments in the story. Alan Wake 2 uses its soundtrack in a different way that is still very effective. These carefully crafted songs, created specifically for the game, mostly play at the end of each chapter. It’s a fantastic collection, with a few standout tracks like Wide Awake, Follow You into the Dark, and, of course, Herald of Darkness.

The importance of music also highlights what makes Alan Wake 2 such a brilliant game. It successfully does what very few games manage to do and that’s leaving you with a memory you’ll remember for the rest of your life. While there are brief moments throughout the journey where you can’t help but wonder where the idea even came from, there’s one shining sequence that is so incredibly different and refreshing that I hope other developers take notes. Interestingly, Creative Director Sam Lake revealed that he had to fight to keep that section in the game. It’s astonishing that this highly acclaimed portion of the game, which heavily contributes to Alan Wake 2 delivering an experience unlike any other, was almost cut from the game because it was that crazy. Even if you don’t plan to play Alan Wake 2, I suggest watching reaction videos on YouTube. To avoid spoilers, I won’t mention the name of the chapter, but it shouldn’t be very difficult for you to find it—you’ll know when you do.

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Reality’s Edge

Throughout history, the idea of what a video game is has evolved time and time again. Every few years, something emerges that redefines the narrative on how video games should be created and the experiences they’re meant to deliver. While everyone may have their own list of the most important video games in history, there are titles that likely appear on most lists. Games like Tetris, Doom, Halo, Final Fantasy, World of Warcraft, Resident Evil, Street Fighter II, Fallout, and more. Each of these games pushed the boundaries of its genre, with their influences felt even decades later.

PlayStation, as we know it today, has built a reputation for delivering cinematic experiences, or what some call interactive movies. From The Last of Us to 2018’s God of War, certain video games have been focusing more on delivering a complete experience you can’t get anywhere else. Alan Wake 2 delivers in spades, from its tense atmosphere to its eerie audio, humorous moments to its dark ones. This game is truly special because it’ll

be remembered for one of the most extraordinary things a video game has ever done.


While Alan Wake 2 isn’t the perfect game—it has plenty of frustrating combat sequences, an overly convoluted story, and some mechanics that miss the mark—when it works, it’s an incredibly unique experience that’s unmatched. I hope more developers see the success of this title and realize that the best things often take a lot of risks.


  • Incredible atmosphere and environmental design
  • Memorable characters and moments
  • Superb audio and music integration
  • Unique narrative approach


  • Frustrating combat mechanics
  • Disjointed and convoluted storytelling
  • Underwhelming case board mechanic

Final Verdict: Alan Wake 2 is an unforgettable experience that, despite its flaws, pushes the boundaries of what video games can deliver. It’s a must-play for fans of psychological horror and those looking for a unique, narrative-driven game.

Alan Wake 2 FAQs

What is Alan Wake 2 about?

Alan Wake 2 is a psychological horror game that follows the stories of two protagonists, Alan Wake and Saga Anderson. Alan Wake is trapped in a nightmarish version of New York called The Dark Place, while Saga Anderson, an FBI agent, investigates a series of ritualistic murders in Bright Falls. The game combines elements of storytelling, exploration, and combat, with a unique narrative approach that blends reality and fiction.

How does the gameplay of Alan Wake 2 differ from the first game?

While Alan Wake 2 retains some core mechanics from the original, such as using a flashlight to weaken enemies before attacking them, it introduces new elements and refinements. Alan Wake’s plot board allows him to change his surroundings to solve puzzles, and Saga Anderson’s case board is intended to help piece together clues, although it is less developed. The game also features more polished combat and a more immersive atmosphere thanks to advanced graphics and sound design.

What are the main features of Alan Wake 2?

  • Dual protagonists with distinct storylines and environments
  • Plot board and case board mechanics for puzzle-solving and clue gathering
  • Atmospheric environments and next-generation graphics
  • Unique narrative blending reality and fiction
  • Memorable characters and moments
  • Superb audio and music integration

Is Alan Wake 2 a direct sequel to the first game?

Yes, Alan Wake 2 is a direct sequel to the first game, continuing the story of Alan Wake and expanding the lore of Bright Falls and The Dark Place. It picks up 13 years after the events of the original game and builds upon the narrative established in Alan Wake and its expansions.

What platforms is Alan Wake 2 available on?

Alan Wake 2 is available on multiple platforms, including PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S. The game takes advantage of next-generation hardware to deliver stunning graphics and a highly immersive experience.

How does the combat system work in Alan Wake 2?

The combat system in Alan Wake 2 involves using a flashlight to weaken enemies, making them vulnerable to attacks from firearms. Players must manage limited resources, such as flashlight batteries and ammunition, to survive encounters. The combat can feel tense and challenging, contributing to the overall atmosphere of the game.

Is Alan Wake 2 suitable for newcomers, or should I play the first game first?

While newcomers can jump into Alan Wake 2 and enjoy its story and gameplay, having knowledge of the first game enhances the experience. The sequel builds on the narrative and characters from the original game, and playing Alan Wake Remastered can provide valuable context and background.

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How long does it take to complete Alan Wake 2?

The length of Alan Wake 2 can vary depending on playstyle, but on average, it takes around 15-20 hours to complete the main story. Additional time may be spent exploring the game’s environments, solving puzzles, and uncovering secrets.

What makes Alan Wake 2 unique compared to other horror games?

Alan Wake 2 stands out for its unique blend of psychological horror, narrative complexity, and atmospheric design. The game’s ability to intertwine the stories of two protagonists, combined with its high production values and innovative gameplay mechanics, sets it apart from other horror titles. The use of music and sound design also plays a significant role in creating an immersive experience.

Are there any DLCs or expansions planned for Alan Wake 2?

As of now, there has been no official announcement regarding DLCs or expansions for Alan Wake 2. However, given the success and depth of the game, it’s possible that future content may be developed to expand the story and gameplay further. Players should keep an eye on official announcements from Remedy Entertainment for updates.

Can you switch between the two protagonists in Alan Wake 2?

Yes, at certain points in the game, players have the option to switch between Alan Wake and Saga Anderson. This allows for a more varied gameplay experience, as each character has unique abilities and storylines. However, the decision to switch characters can impact the flow and cohesion of the narrative.

Does Alan Wake 2 have multiple endings?

Alan Wake 2 features a complex narrative with multiple layers, but it is not clear if the game has multiple endings based on player choices. The story’s progression and outcome may depend on how players interact with the game’s environments, solve puzzles, and piece together clues. For a definitive answer, players may need to explore the game fully or refer to official sources and community discussions.

What is the case board mechanic in Alan Wake 2?

The case board mechanic is used by Saga Anderson to piece together clues and evidence related to her investigation. It serves as a visual representation of her progress in solving the mystery. While the concept is interesting, the execution is somewhat underdeveloped, and it doesn’t require significant problem-solving from the player.

How does the plot board work in Alan Wake 2?

Alan Wake’s plot board allows him to alter his surroundings to progress through the game. This mechanic is central to solving puzzles and navigating The Dark Place. By changing the environment, players can uncover new paths, reveal hidden objects, and advance the story in creative ways.

What are the standout moments in Alan Wake 2?

Alan Wake 2 features several standout moments, including a highly memorable and unique gaming sequence that has been praised for its originality and execution. The game’s blend of eerie atmosphere, compelling characters, and innovative gameplay mechanics create numerous memorable experiences that players are likely to remember long after finishing the game.

How does the game handle transitions between light and dark environments?

Alan Wake 2 uses light and darkness as core gameplay elements. Players must navigate through dark environments using their flashlight to fend off enemies and uncover hidden paths. The transitions between light and dark are seamless and contribute to the game’s tense and immersive atmosphere. The use of light as both a tool and a narrative device is central to the game’s design.

What role does music play in Alan Wake 2?

Music in Alan Wake 2 is used to enhance the game’s atmosphere and emotional impact. The soundtrack, featuring songs created specifically for the game, plays at key moments and chapter endings, adding to the overall experience. Memorable tracks like “Wide Awake,” “Follow You into the Dark,” and “Herald of Darkness” contribute to the game’s unique and immersive feel.

How does Alan Wake 2 compare to Remedy Entertainment’s previous games?

Alan Wake 2 builds on Remedy Entertainment’s legacy of creating narrative-driven games with rich atmospheres. Compared to previous titles like Control and the original Alan Wake, Alan Wake 2 offers a more polished and immersive experience with advanced graphics and sound design. However, it retains some of the clunky combat mechanics from its predecessor, which may detract from the overall experience for some players.

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