Kaleidoscopes, cigarettes, and hair gel: How Remedy achieved Alan Wake 2's live-action "stylisation"

Alan Wake 2
(Image credit: Remedy)

At this point, live-action sequences are a defining feature for Remedy games. Think of 2016's Quantum Break, which placed 25-minute TV episodes between each chapter of the game. Remedy dialled it back in Control stylishly, where live-action footage was blended on top of game footage.

Live-action is confirmed to be back in Alan Wake 2, and the latest instalment of Play Magazine takes us for a look behind the scenes of filming. "I really love using filmed video material," co-director and lead writer of Alan Wake 2 Sam Lake tells Play, adding that Remedy has "certainly taken a different stab at it" across its games. 

Lake refers back to the visions Control protagonist Jesse has throughout the game, and says the studio always felt it could go "way further" with the effect achieved by blending live-action on top of game footage. For Alan Wake 2, Lake tells Play that Remedy has gone "way further" with it.

Whatever trippy stuff Remedy has cooked up with its blended footage this time, it's intended to be a core part of the experience of Alan Wake 2. "The goal with the blended stuff has been to find stylisation," Lake tells Play, "and how to really weave it into the gameplay and experience [it] as part of it."

At the shoot Play attends, Remedy creates a kaleidoscopic visual distortion by placing a prism over the camera lens. For a dreamy, shifting vibe? Hair gel. This might be a fun meta-game to play once Alan Wake 2 is out - what exactly did Remedy put on the camera lens to achieve the visual effect on your screen?

If you want to see our thoughts on Alan Wake 2 so far, read our preview from Summer Games Fest 2023. 

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I'm a freelance writer and started my career in summer 2022. After studying Physics and Music at university and a short stint in software development, I made the jump to games journalism on Eurogamer's work experience programme. Since then, I've also written for Rock Paper Shotgun and Esports Illustrated. I'll give any game a go so long as it's not online, and you'll find me playing a range of things, from Elden Ring to Butterfly Soup. I have a soft spot for indies aiming to diversify representation in the industry.