For a game releasing in October, we haven't seen much of Alan Wake 2 so far—and the footage revealed at Summer Games Fest was a fairly short slice. But it's already striking to me how much more of a full-blooded horror game it seems like compared to the original.
"Alan Wake 2 is Remedy's first survival horror game," says creator Sam Lake, and certainly as new protagonist Saga Anderson creeps her way through an abandoned house in the woods, the atmosphere is thick with dread. It's almost a relief when an imposing, supernaturally-corrupted axe murderer bursts through the wall. As Saga pumps bullet after bullet into the figure, who steadily advances like Jason Voorhees, barely seeming to care, there are echoes of the recent Resident Evil remakes to my eyes.
The first game certainly had horror elements and plenty of atmosphere, but it was more of a spooky action-adventure, and though you played a wimpy crime author, combats were pretty fast and explosive as you dodged round big groups of foes. Here, the steadier pace and focus on one incredibly tough foe does sell the shift to full-on survival horror—and in 2023 that feels like a great way to shake up the series.
Over the course of the story, you'll play both Saga and Alan. Each has their own storyline—Saga investigating ritual murders in Bright Falls, and Alan desperately trying to escape the Dark Place he's been trapped in since the end of the first game. The two narratives connect at various points, but according to Lake you'll be free to switch between the two whenever you like, enabling players to experience events in different orders.
And it looks like those events will be even more wonderfully bizarre than the first game. The trailer attacked onto the end of today's demo footage (and previously seen at Sony's recent event) shows off all manner of surreal nastiness, much of it clearly drawing on the visual style of Control as much as the first Alan Wake.
I'm a diehard Remedy fan, so my excitement's a given, but I reckon even if you didn't play the first Alan Wake, if you're into horror you should have this on your radar. Part of the idea behind the Saga character is to provide people new to the series with a gentle introduction to the lore—she doesn't know what happened previously, so you'll be learning along with her—and if Remedy is combining its unique house style with inspiration from recent survival horror hits, you can expect a really intense adventure when this drops just in time for Halloween.