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Alan Wake II preview: A waking nightmare

I just wanted some toilet paper from the General Store... what the heck is that?!

Enlarge / I just wanted some toilet paper from the General Store… what the heck is that?! (credit: Remedy )

Over a decade ago, the release of Alan Wake cemented Remedy Entertainment—then best-known for the Max Payne series—as the arbiter of mind-bending, original, and somewhat experimental experiences that blend traditional action-adventure gameplay with atmospheric environments and existential dread. Despite a generally favorable critical response, slow sales stifled the game’s franchise potential (launching the same week as Red Dead Redemption certainly did Alan Wake no favors). In the years since its 2010 release, however, Alan Wake has become something of a cult hit; a remastered version that dropped in 2021 renewed interest and paved the way for the sequel’s announcement at the Game Awards later that year.

Alan Wake II has been a long time coming, but the 13 years in between games have given Remedy even more time to hone its game-development chops. At a hands-off, closed-door session during Summer Game Fest Play Days in Los Angeles, Remedy reps showed off the sequel’s progress with a live demo. According to Remedy, it’s the developer’s most ambitious game ever—and it shows.

What is dead may never die

Alan Wake II picks up over a decade after where the original left off, but don’t expect to see the titular character in the early hours of the game. Instead, the opening chapters put players in the shoes of FBI Agent Saga Anderson, who has come to Bright Falls to investigate a series of ritual murders alongside partner Alex Casey (who shares a name with the protagonist from Alan’s in-game novel series and looks suspiciously like Max Payne).

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