“It feels superb.” These have been the phrases that Treatment Leisure Artistic Director Sam Lake used to explain his feelings now that Alan Wake 2 is a bit of over a month away from launch. It has been a 13-year journey for Lake and Treatment Leisure, and in that point there have been loads of false begins, dashed hopes, and crossovers to maintain the spirit of Alan Wake alive however just a few years in the past did a correct sequel turn out to be a actuality. Now that sequel is (virtually) right here and we’ve performed it.
As a part of a hands-on preview for media, Recreation Rant was capable of play two sections from Alan Wake 2. With the sequel that includes twin protagonists Alan Wake and Saga Anderson, it solely felt acceptable that gamers get the prospect to manage every and to see what their gameplay sections convey to the desk. Whereas there are some elementary similarities between the way in which that Alan and Saga’s sections play, in addition to some narrative connections, every character has a reasonably distinct setup.
The Saga Anderson portion of the demo featured the FBI agent arriving within the city of Watery, which is stylistically just like close by Brilliant Falls. Saga is on the path of the Cult of the Tree and searching for clues which may unravel the thriller in entrance of her. Nevertheless, as Saga digs deeper into the case, she finds that her connections to Brilliant Falls, Watery, and the Cult are greater than she initially realizes. With out giving something away, the demo arrange the correct amount of intrigue to make sure that Saga’s parts of the sport aren’t taking part in second fiddle to Alan’s.
Though Alan Wake 2 is a third-person shooter like its predecessors, Treatment has opted for a survival horror strategy this time round. Enemies are much less prevalent, as Saga explores Watery’s flooded forest space and close by theme park, and anytime one or just a few seem the stress cranks to 11. The sunshine mechanic the place the character should enhance her flashlight at an enemy to make them susceptible after which lay into them with bullets continues to be current, however the fight encounters are much less about laying waste to a horde of foes and extra about surviving one or two imposing threats. It’s not a one-to-one comparability, however there are particular similarities in the way in which Alan Wake 2 and Resident Evil strategy its fight encounters.
Alan Wake 2’s third-person mechanics are as refined as ever and the sport feels nice to play. The exploration, puzzle-solving, and fight supplied a pleasant selection within the preview, making certain that there was time to take a breather earlier than the unease began creeping again in. Treatment has achieved an unbelievable job of making a way of place with the city of Watery and the manufacturing design is top-notch. Facial animations are beautiful, particularly on Saga and Alan, and there are such a lot of cool particulars on the earth that make it really feel lived-in. Equally, sound design is sparse however that permits for any little noise to attract consideration to itself and, by extension, constructing the ever-important stress of survival horror.
It is probably not a puzzle recreation however Alan Wake 2 presents some obstacles that require extra pondering than the common recreation would possibly. The participant might want to take note of their environment and any accessible clues to progress, nevertheless it by no means felt like the sport was speaking right down to us. Saga is a detective, in spite of everything, so deduction is a key a part of the expertise.
Nowhere is that concept extra obvious than in Saga’s Thoughts Place, which is the place she will have a look at her case board to seek out new targets, place clues and draw connections between them, and in addition profile topics by asking them questions as a kind of paranormal interrogator. It’s a classy approach of exhibiting how Saga is drawing conclusions and deducing the place to go subsequent, however most significantly it provides gamers company in what’s occurring. They’re inserting the clues on the board and discovering connections, not simply watching Saga determine it out.
Saga’s part feels extra in keeping with what gamers would anticipate from an Alan Wake sequel each in its setting and its gameplay. The delicate hints of a bigger thriller are current in each dialog, the gameplay is frenetic and visceral, and the world-building is first-class. Even with out seeing what the Alan Wake sections have to supply, this was all of the tease we wanted to be assured Treatment is heading in the right direction.
However then the Alan Wake sections take every thing followers assume they learn about this collection and flip them on their head. These sections lean closely into Alan Wake’s occupation as a author and permit him to “rewrite” the world round him to progress. This idea of rewriting the narrative manifests in two key methods: Alan’s Writers Room and the Gentle stealing mechanic.
Alan’s Writers Room is like Saga’s Thoughts Place in that it permits him to collect his ideas in regards to the story to date and attempt to deduce the following steps. Nevertheless, it has the added wrinkle of permitting Alan to take an surroundings and rewrite it to look fully totally different. As he learns extra in regards to the story he’s seemingly trapped in, Alan can bounce between totally different variations of the surroundings – within the preview’s case, a lodge ground – to seek out pathways ahead and clues to guide him to the following plot level. There are additionally echoes current on the earth that Alan should align by discovering the precise perspective, and which may even change the surroundings round Alan.
In a similar way, Alan has entry to an Angel Lamp that may pull mild out of a supply and remodel sure elements of the surroundings. For instance, a door would possibly result in one place with an lively mild supply above it, but when Alan makes use of his Angel Lamp to soak up that mild from an overhead lamp, the door will result in someplace fully totally different. Grabbing the sunshine and placing it in other places is yet one more approach that Alan can write after which rewrite the world round him, and for the sport, it presents a very cool puzzle-solving premise. It’s not as simple as taking the sunshine and shifting ahead, although; the preview confirmed us that Treatment needs gamers to have their pondering caps on always.
Alan’s part was extra psychological horror in its building, and undeniably impressed by Kubrick, nevertheless it was not devoid of fight. The place Saga’s enemies are like possessed people who lose chunks of flesh as she pelts them with gunfire, Alan’s foes are extra like shadows. The sunshine boosting mechanic continues to be key to weakening the enemies, however their actions have been extra erratic and their design extra ethereal. Once more, gunplay is deliberate and tense with that trademark dodge mechanic that’s extraordinarily satisfying to drag off.
Whereas the Saga part felt extra like signature Alan Wake, the Alan part is quite a bit more durable to explain however equally compelling. With Treatment splitting the sport 50/50 between the 2 characters, the builders knew they wanted to provide a pleasant stability to the gameplay the place it turns into a tough option to resolve who to play as subsequent. In that vein, the preview made it troublesome to say which part was our favourite. Saga has that signature Alan Wake really feel and the selection to lean in direction of survival horror works nicely for the setting and story. On the similar time, Alan’s part is so weird that it’s inconceivable to not wish to know extra.
Fortunately, Alan Wake 2 gamers can strategy the sport nevertheless they like and if the preview is any indication, they are going to be happy both approach. Sam Lake would possibly really feel reduction with the end line in his sights, however he additionally acknowledges that the 13-year wait allowed Alan Wake 2 to evolve into what it’s now. The know-how and the inventive expertise gained engaged on video games like Quantum Break and Management made Alan Wake 2 a greater recreation. And if this preview is any indication, this could possibly be Treatment Leisure’s finest recreation but.
Alan Wake 2
Alan Wake 2 is scheduled to launch in 2023, 13 years after its predecessor first hit shops.
The unique Alan Wake captivated audiences with its Stephen King-inspired psychological horror story. In line with Treatment Leisure’s Sam Lake, the sport will probably be survival horror, not like the primary recreation, which he described as “an motion recreation with horror components.”
- PC, PS5, Xbox Sequence S, Xbox Sequence X
- October 27, 2023
- Treatment Leisure