There’s nothing like a developer that’s absolutely in its stride.
Treatment, the studio behind glorious single-player narrative video games like Quantum Break and Management, and at the moment helming a remake of its seminal Max Payne sequence, feels prefer it’s lastly on the level the place the expertise of video video games has caught up with its ambitions.
The result’s Alan Wake 2, a superb survival horror recreation that makes use of mixed-media in methods that are groundbreaking in gaming, and tells an enticing thriller story befitting a status HBO miniseries. There’s additionally a big serving to of weirdness and sequences you wouldn’t consider for those who didn’t see them with your personal eyes.
Whereas the third-person-shooting doesn’t fairly sustain with the true benchmark setters of the style, every part round Alan Wake 2, from the writing, the performances, the massive quantity of scares, and the expertise powering the sport, is massively spectacular, and method past what many would anticipate from a sequel to a cult recreation from 2010.
The Poet and the Muse
Talking of 2010, in typical meta-Treatment model, you start the sport as FBI agent Saga Anderson, investigating a cult homicide, that you just quickly understand could also be linked to Alan Wake, a author who disappeared in 2010.
It’s now 2023, and also you and your companion Alex Casey (performed by Treatment inventive director and Max Payne’s face, Sam Lake), must unravel the cult’s schemes. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take lengthy for issues to change into considerably extra supernatural, as Saga discovers a connection to Wake, who remains to be alive, solely caught in what appears to be a parallel dimension, known as The Darkish Place.
On this Darkish Place, Alan is trapped, writing the manuscript for a novel that Saga is discovering in her world. Not solely that, however Alan can have an effect on The Darkish Place by discovering new plot factors and re-writing the world round him to flee, all whereas being pursued by The Scratch, a darkish entity that stalks Wake.
Alan Wake 2 tells parallel tales that allow gamers bounce between every character at particular places. Throughout our playthrough, we usually performed a mission at a time for every character, however broadly, there’s a non-linearity to the way you method the sport.
The most important gameplay distinction between the 2 is that Saga’s half of the sport is far more of a detective story. She’s speaking to individuals and gathering clues, all of which will be labored out in The Thoughts Place, a psychological retreat whereby Saga can place her clues on a board.
Wake, then again, predominantly makes use of his Thoughts Place to vary the world round him by way of plot factors. Each side additionally do their fair proportion of combating, with third-person taking pictures not not like that of the current Resident Evil remakes, however not fairly as clean.
Actually, it’s when the taking pictures begins that Alan Wake 2 hits its solely actual stumbles. Enemies are frustratingly dense, that means you’re unloading tons of ammo on what appear to be primary baddies. The sport’s additionally unforgiving when it comes to Alan and Saga’s well being. It’s important to manually heal which takes some time, and never solely that, however your well being bar is pretty small, so it’s straightforward to get your self into tough conditions.
Champion of Mild
Like the primary recreation, gentle is a large issue. Enemies take extra harm after they’ve been uncovered to a trusty flashlight, and flares and propane tanks change into gold mud at nighttime, dank woods round Brilliant Falls and the encompassing space. The fight encounters will not be glowing, however they’re well-paced. Uncommonly did we really feel like we had been being bombarded by waves and waves of enemies stopping us from getting again to the superb thriller.
What did often cease us was real concern. Alan Wake 2 is far more of a horror recreation than the primary, with jumpscares and an amazing sense of dread lurking round each nook. It’s scary sufficient being at nighttime woods, alone, however when your flashlight abruptly stops working and you’ll nearly make out a shadow between the bushes? Horrible stuff.
It might be really easy for the sport to lose observe of all its threads, particularly when enjoying throughout two dimensions, however Alan Wake 2’s story, fortunately, stays sturdy all through. There’s an extremely creepy feeling from the second you begin the sport that persists all through.
“What did often cease us was real concern. Alan Wake 2 is far more of a horror recreation than the primary, with jumpscares and an amazing sense of dread lurking round each nook.”
Why is that this unusual band following each Alan and Saga throughout the timelines? Why does Saga’s companion have the identical identify and face because the star of Alan’s novels, Alex Casey? Why does everybody on the town act like they know Saga when she’s by no means been right here earlier than? What connection does the sport must the broader Treatment-verse?
All these questions are satisfyingly resolved, and there’s lots the sport desires you to go digging for for an excellent clearer image of the world.
Alan Wake 2 can be a technical marvel. It seems like a recreation on the absolute reducing fringe of gaming in a number of sides. Firstly, the sport’s loading instances are nearly non-existent, as is the time to journey between the true world and the Thoughts Place, all of which is completed on the contact of a button, anyplace you need.
This can be a recreation that makes use of lots of real-life footage of actors, which in most video games is a raffle that finally ends up simply highlighting the disparity between in-game fashions and the true factor, however Alan Wake 2 fully will get away with it. There have been a number of factors the place I used to be certain I used to be watching footage of actual people, however it was simply the sport.
Clearly, a recreation that has a central mechanic round gentle goes to experience trendy graphical tech, and Alan Wake 2 pulls no punches.
Herald of Darkness
It’s necessary to not that we bumped into some important bugs throughout our time with Alan Wake 2, which had been primarily round us not being given the choice to talk to sure characters. There are moments when that is required to progress the story, and we walked round aimlessly earlier than realizing it was simply the sport not giving us the choice. Fortunately, this was fastened with a reload, however it’s nonetheless not nice.
The sport’s additionally surprisingly specific about how shut you must be with sure objects with the intention to work together with them. You’ll seemingly end up opening a provide crate and mashing A to select up the objects, solely to understand once you run away that you just’ve left behind these valuable shotgun shells.
These points fall away when Alan Wake 2 is at its finest. One early mission particularly, that we’ve been sworn to secrecy to not point out intimately, left us completely gobsmacked. To have the arrogance to place one thing like this mission, this early into the sport, is simply flat-out inspiring.
Treatment is having such time, and you’ll really feel it in each inch of Alan Wake. That’s not even to say the heart-on-sleeve reverence for Treatment’s native Finland that’s all around the recreation too. You get the sensation that the event workforce put completely every part they needed into the sport, after which some extra (actually, you must play Alan’s fourth mission: it’s excellent.)
The last decade-long outcry for a sequel to Alan Wake has been answered and answered extremely. Alan Wake 2 is the results of Treatment’s evolution as a studio because the first recreation was launched. Every little thing it discovered from the live-action components of Quantum Break and the non-linear exploration and storytelling of Management make Alan Wake 2 an enormous of a sequel.
Treatment has at the very least 4 extra video games within the pipeline, and at this level, we wouldn’t be shocked if it manages to tie all of them collectively, too. There are gameplay annoyances in Alan Wake 2 that cease it from topping the survival horror charts on these phrases alone, however the narrative and technical achievements Treatment has managed right here really feel past what’s being completed at another studio. Lengthy could it proceed.