Alan Wake 2 Game Review – Fearless Mind Bending Survival Horror Sequel with Astonishing Moments and Unique Game Design in 2024

Thirteen years after his wife vanishes in the peaceful town of Bright Falls, famous writer Alan Wake is trapped in a strange, dark world, trying hard to find a way out through his writing. Starting this review of Alan Wake 2, I feel a connection to Alan’s situation. The game is so special and different that it’s hard to know where to start describing it.

Alan Wake 2 Game
(Image Credit: Google)

Alan Wake II takes the form of a single-player adventure that effortlessly transitions from a slow-burning psychological thriller to frantic survival-horror action. It shifts seamlessly between gorgeously rendered in-game environments and striking full-motion video sequences. It combines grim investigations with show-stopping musical surprises. In a word, it’s a rollercoaster.

This game is a blend of blood, madness, and brilliance, offering an experience like no other. Even in a year filled with gaming gems, Alan Wake 2 shines as brightly as a freshly fired signal flare. It’s a testament to its enduring appeal and exceptional craftsmanship.

In the expansive narrative of Alan Wake 2, which spans two starkly contrasting realities and unfolds over roughly 17 intense hours, the storytelling manages to maintain a high degree of coherence, despite its significantly increased complexity. The tale commences in present-day Bright Falls, placing players in the shoes of FBI Agent Saga Anderson. She’s been dispatched to this tranquil lakeside town to probe the latest victim in a series of gruesome ritualistic murders: a lifeless body discovered beside Cauldron Lake, its chest cavity gaping with the absence of a heart.

Saga Anderson fits perfectly into the mysterious universe of Alan Wake and Remedy Entertainment’s game, Control. She takes her work seriously but also enjoys friendly teasing with her partner, Special Agent Alex Casey. The first few hours focus on investigative work without fights, making the story feel real. But as things get darker, the peaceful landscape turns into a terrifying nightmare.

Solving Mysteries in Alan Wake 2

Alan Wake 2 Game
(Image Credit: Google)

Alan Wake II excels in keeping the main serial killer mystery and its myriad subplots easy to follow thanks to a feature known as the caseboard, located in Saga’s metaphysical mind place. This tool can be accessed at any moment with the press of a button. It allows you to manually organize each piece of evidence, character profile, or foreshadowing manuscript page found in Bright Falls and its surroundings. By arranging them on a branching tree of red strings and palm cards pinned to the wall, it keeps the investigation organized and your focus squarely on the case.

For those who’ve struggled to keep up with complex TV shows like True Detective, the caseboard proves to be a valuable in-game feature, ensuring that you can navigate the narrative without getting lost. As Saga’s investigation unfolds in the early stages of Alan Wake 2, every revelation raises more disconcerting questions. Why are the locals acting as though they’ve known Saga for years? What’s the connection to the janitor character from Control performing karaoke in a local town hall? And why did a seemingly lifeless corpse suddenly come to life and wander into the woods? The game offers different difficulty settings, but regardless of the choice, the mood is consistently set to an eerie and unsettling tone.

The enigma deepens when Alan Wake washes up on the shores of Cauldron Lake, disoriented and rambling about the Dark Place. To his shock, he learns that he’s been missing for the past 13 years. Alan Wake II takes an even stranger turn from this point. The perspective shifts between Saga’s quest for the truth in Bright Falls and Alan’s desperate attempts to escape his doomed Dark Place dimension. Both sides gradually bleed into each other in increasingly unpredictable and disorienting ways.

It reached a point where I could barely distinguish fact from fiction within fiction. Eventually, it all culminated in a supremely well-executed, gut-punch of an ending that neatly tied off most of the story threads but tantalizingly left a handful of loose ends to dangle. Remedy, if you make us wait another 13 years to tie these up (and start more), it will be much less endearing.


The compelling power of its contrasting settings further enhances its mystery. While the lakeside shores of Bright Falls offer stunning sunset scenes and detail-rich forest surroundings, it’s the grimy, neon-soaked New York plaza setting of Alan’s stages that truly showcases the immense skill of Remedy’s team of artists. Resembling a nightmare you might have after 24 hours of cheese-eating and watching Taxi Driver and Mean Streets on a loop, this rotten slice of the Big Apple is a haunting otherworld that I consistently found captivating to explore. From graffiti-covered construction areas to the menacing sprawl of subway tunnels beneath its surface, it’s a setting that oozes atmosphere.

Environmental Puzzles and Reality Manipulation in Alan’s Stages

Alan Wake 2 Game
(Image Credit: Google)

Alan’s stages in the game also introduced an entirely different facet of gameplay by incorporating enjoyable environmental puzzles. Using a paranormal table lamp, Alan can absorb energy from one light source and redirect it to another. This not only creates a new illuminated safe haven to protect against the lurking shadows but also physically alters the world, unveiling new paths forward. It’s a fascinating mechanic that might remind players of Control’s Ocean View Hotel, where you pull the light switch cord to shift realities. The complexity of this mechanism increases as you progress, requiring the right sequence to manipulate multiple light sources, which gradually raises the challenge in unlocking new areas.

In Alan’s reality, instead of collecting evidence and arranging it on a caseboard, you seek plot elements in the form of floating pairs of orbs. To progress, you must observe these orbs from the correct perspective to create an eclipse, triggering ghostly, hardboiled scenes from Alan’s own Alex Casey crime novel series. These scenes can then be rewritten into Alan’s current scenario, distorting his reality into disturbing new dioramas that move him closer to the dark place’s exit. They also reveal ominous parallels to the Bright Falls slayings that Saga is attempting to solve. (In a humorous aside, it’s worth noting that in the realm of desperate escapes from corrupted alternate realities, Alan is not alone in 2023.)


Sam Lake’s Multifaceted Roles

What adds an extra layer of disconcerting intrigue to Alan Wake 2 is the fact that the Creative Director, Sam Lake, assumes multiple roles within the game. He portrays both the character of Alex Casey in Alan’s world and FBI Special Agent Alex Casey in Saga’s story. Furthermore, he appears as himself in a peculiar late-night talk show that Alan frequents as a recurring guest.

Sam Lake might not be a household name, but you likely recognize his famous face, as it graced the mug of the original Max Payne, complete with the signature scowl! The heavy meta-mystery of Alan Wake II is like a jigsaw puzzle locked inside a Rubik’s Cube covered in sudokus. It’s such a strange and wonderful journey, filled with unexpected detours and recursive loops that keep you guessing, much like a disgruntled Uber driver navigating the city’s labyrinthine streets.

Enhanced Combat

Alan Wake 2 Game
(Image Credit: Google)

Alan Wake II offers a multitude of plots, along with a body count to rival a cemetery. The fundamentals of combat remain largely the same as the enjoyable flashlight-fueled fighting of the original, but the execution has been significantly enhanced. Enemies are once again literal shadows, and the most efficient way to dispatch them is by using the boosted beam of your flashlight to burn away their cloudy darkness shields.

You can then blast disgusting chunks of exposed flesh off their bones with your expanding arsenal of firearms. This time around, enemies occasionally reveal glowing weak points on their bodies. Successfully targeting these weak points allows you to inflict substantially more damage and conserve precious ammo, which feels like a satisfying reward for taking an extra fraction of a second to carefully line up your shots.


For those returning to Alan Wake along with me, here’s some fantastic news: Both Saga and Alan now have unlimited sprint abilities, a marked improvement over the perpetually out-of-breath Alan from the original. The protagonists are generally more nimble as well. The dodge button feels snappier and allows you to more reliably evade swinging pipes or thrown pickaxes. It even works on the ground, enabling you to quickly roll out of harm’s way and avoid potential follow-up attacks.

However, challenge remains a crucial part of Alan Wake II, and Remedy hasn’t forgotten that. While Saga and Alan may be more agile, ammunition and batteries remain scarce. From hulking brutes with sledgehammers to darting wolves and freakish, multi-limbed mirror monsters, Alan Wake 2 consistently keeps you guessing about which breed of shadow warrior is lurking around the corner. Some enemies even hurl darkness projectiles that home in on you and must be dodged or caught with your flashlight’s beam, akin to fighter jet countermeasures. The intensity of combat in Alan Wake II rivals the drama of a heated rap battle, reminiscent of Eminem’s diss tracks.

Frantic and Distinct Boss Fights

Alan Wake 2 presents players with wonderfully frantic and distinctive boss fights. One memorable encounter involves a dimly lit, close-quarters brawl with a reanimated corpse, determined to impale the player’s chest with a torn-off tree branch. Another boss fight forces players to frantically burn away a swarm of darkness blobs in an arena, all while dodging deadly rifle shots from a distant enemy, making it a real test of survival.

Strangely enough, the enemy in Alan Wake 2 that induces the most fear often can’t even harm the player. Alan’s reality is populated with whispering apparitions that typically vanish into smoke when the player’s flashlight is directed at them. It’s that one out of ten times you should be concerned about, as it’s likely to be a physical threat waiting to ambush you after lulling you into a false sense of security. Consequently, this creates a constant state of paranoia, where every human-shaped shadow, including your own, becomes a source of unease, perfectly mirroring Alan’s deteriorating mental state.

(Video Credit: PlayStation)

Aspects Needing Improvement

While Alan Wake 2 excels in various aspects, there are a few areas where it doesn’t reach its full potential. Notably, the skill trees for the two playable characters seem unbalanced. Alan’s ‘Words of Power’ skill tree offers 21 distinct skills that can be upgraded multiple times, providing considerable depth. In contrast, Saga’s skill upgrades are limited to three enhancements for each firearm, and acquiring them comes at a high cost in collectable manuscript scraps. On the normal difficulty setting, these upgrades often feel unnecessary. They might have greater utility in the planned Nightmare difficulty to be added post-launch.

Moreover, Saga’s gameplay involves several survival-horror stereotypes, such as fuse box repairs and combination lock puzzles. These elements, while fitting for the genre, can feel somewhat cliché. Additionally, the absence of new Night Springs episodes, a beloved feature from the original game, is noticeable. However, the game replaces them with humorous commercials, featuring the eccentric Koskela brothers, which adds an offbeat touch to the experience.

Despite these minor issues, they are overshadowed by the game’s remarkable strengths. Alan Wake II draws inspiration from various films and TV shows, blending the original game’s Twin Peaks-meets-The Twilight Zone vibe with elements from True Detective, Seven, Inception, and more. It also surprises players with unsettling fourth-wall tricks reminiscent of Inscription and eerie full-motion video moments akin to those found in 2022’s Immortality.

Astonishing Moments and Fearless Design

Alan Wake 2 fearless moments of pure astonishment and demonstrates approach to game design. In one particularly remarkable early-game scene, which I won’t fully spoil, the game transforms into an interactive musical. It’s as if the Remedy team took inspiration from the ‘Jump Up, Super Star!’ level in Super Mario Odyssey and reimagined it in a wildly bizarre fashion. For around 20 minutes, Alan Wake 2 shifts from a survival-horror game to something resembling the Rocky Horror Picture Show, leaving players grinning from the first note to the final blazing guitar solo. Despite its intense scares, it’s these unconventional moments that reveal Remedy’s audacious design in this long-awaited sequel.

The Verdict

Alan Wake II stands out as a superb survival-horror sequel, offering a bold and mind-bending storyline reminiscent of classics like Silent Hill 2. It boasts impeccable art direction and audio design while revitalizing the series’ signature light-based combat, making it feel as if it’s been freshly charged with Energizer batteries. Although the skill upgrade systems may seem somewhat extraneous and there are a few recurring cliches in Saga’s narrative, both sides of this twisted tale are endlessly captivating, often spine-tingling, and consistently full of surprises. When compared to the cult-classic original, Alan Wake 2 makes it look like nothing more than a rough first draft.


Q1: What is Alan Wake II, and how does it differ from the original game?

A1: Alan Wake II is a long-awaited sequel to the original Alan Wake. It continues the story of Alan Wake, a renowned author, and introduces a new character, FBI Agent Saga Anderson. The game seamlessly transitions between psychological thriller and survival-horror action, offering a unique experience that combines two different storylines in contrasting realities.

Q2: How does Alan Wake 2 handle storytelling and character development?

A2: Alan Wake 2 offers a complex narrative that maintains coherence despite its complexity. It introduces FBI Agent Saga Anderson as a likable character, and her procedural investigation in Bright Falls grounds the story in realism. The storytelling unfolds in an organized manner with the help of a feature called the caseboard, making it easy for players to follow the main mystery and various subplots.

Q3: How does Alan Wake II incorporate environmental puzzles and reality manipulation into gameplay?

A3: Alan’s stages in the game introduce environmental puzzles where players use a paranormal table lamp to absorb energy from one light source and redirect it to another. This alters the world, unveils new paths, and becomes more complex as the game progresses. In Alan’s reality, players seek plot elements in the form of orbs, observing them from the correct perspective to create eclipses and trigger scenes that move the story forward.

Q4: What is the role of Sam Lake, the Creative Director, in Alan Wake II?

A4: Sam Lake assumes multiple roles within the game, portraying characters in both Alan’s and Saga’s worlds. His presence adds a layer of meta-mystery to the game, and his various roles contribute to the disconcerting intrigue of the story.

Q5: How does combat work in Alan Wake II, and what enhancements have been made since the original game?

A5: Combat in Alan Wake II is enhanced compared to the original game. Enemies are still defeated by using the flashlight’s beam to burn away their darkness shields, followed by gunfire. Weak points on enemies allow for more damage and efficient use of ammunition. The game maintains the challenge of resource management and introduces new enemy types.

Q6: Are there boss fights in Alan Wake II, and how do they contribute to the gameplay?

A6: Alan Wake II features distinctive and frantic boss fights. These encounters add excitement to the gameplay, requiring players to adapt and strategize against formidable foes. The boss fights vary in intensity and offer a satisfying challenge.

Q7: What are some aspects of Alan Wake II that may need improvement?

A7: The skill trees for the two playable characters are mentioned as potentially unbalanced, with Alan having a more extensive set of skills. Saga’s gameplay includes some survival-horror stereotypes, such as fuse box repairs and combination lock puzzles, which may feel cliché. The absence of new Night Springs episodes, a feature from the original game, is also noted.

Q8: What are the standout elements of Alan Wake 2 that make it a remarkable game?

A8: Alan Wake 2 is praised for its bold and mind-bending storyline, impeccable art direction, and audio design. The game reintroduces the series’ signature light-based combat with enhancements. It’s noted for its captivating and spine-tingling narrative, full of surprises. The game also features unconventional moments that showcase the developer’s audacious design.

Q9: How does Alan Wake II compare to the original Alan Wake?

A9: Alan Wake 2 is highly regarded in the review, making the original Alan Wake appear as nothing more than a rough first draft. The sequel is commended for revitalizing the gameplay, story, and overall experience, making it a standout survival-horror game.

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