Alan Wake is about to discover if there's any value in exposure. It's a question that every struggling writer must confront at some stage of their career, and the New York native turned Dark Place hostage would certainly have reason to believe that his ten-year strain of writer's block is about to be broken because of it. With Alan Wake Remastered, the writer will be put on the stage he always deserved to stand on – but he didn't get here alone.
The author made a surprise appearance in developer Remedy Entertainment's Control, working alongside Jesse Faden as part of the fantastic AWE expansion. The 2020 release not only helped to establish the Remedy Connected Universe – officially intertwining the worlds of Alan Wake, Quantum Break, and Control – it also exposed the character to what is surely his largest audience yet. Control has been played by over 10 million people and released on no fewer than seven platforms. Conversely, Alan Wake launched as an Xbox 360 exclusive back in 2010, had slow enough sell-through that a sequel never made it past pre-production, and ultimately spent a spell in limbo after expiring music licenses forced the game to be pulled from digital storefronts.
Alan Wake's appearance in Control showed that there's still plenty of stories for the author to tell and plenty of people out there that are excited to hear them. Perhaps more importantly, it demonstrated that there's still a mass of players out there who deserve to experience 'Departure' for themselves – that's the mysterious horror manuscript that Wake has no memory of writing but has otherwise sprung to life and enveloped the sleepy town of Bright Falls in a nightmare it cannot wake from.
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I was always disappointed that Alan Wake became a cult classic. In a parallel timeline, it may have propelled Remedy toward being one of the most sought-after action developers of its generation, those qualities reflected in Alan Wake's intuitive gunplay and evocative scenario design. Instead of waiting a decade for Wake to make a return in a cameo role, perhaps we'd have further explored the depths of Bright Falls and Cauldron Lake with little more than a flashlight in hand. Maybe we'd have followed Wake into the scripts of Night Springs, the in-universe Twilight Zone-style TV show that explores unexplainable phenomena. Or into the pages of his Alex Casey novels, an action thriller series that revolved around a hardened New York City cop that definitely wasn't Max Payne.
There's reason to believe that we may see some of these adventures in the future, but for now it's worth getting excited over the prospect of seeing Bright Falls rendered in 4K. To experience one of the best adventures of the Xbox 360-era again with the sort of lighting, particle, and atmospheric effects that were so impressively presented in Control's next-gen update. Remedy has also confirmed that the return of Alan Wake will include its two fantastic expansions – The Signal and The Writer – although its 2012 spin-off, Alan Wake's American Nightmare, won't be part of the package.
That was confirmed to GamesRadar+ by Remedy's communications director, Thomas Puha: "AWAN [Alan Wake's American Nightmare] was a digital-only release, a slightly more arcade-y follow-up to Alan Wake in 2012. That is a separate standalone game and not part of the remaster experience." That's the bad news. The good news is that Remedy has confirmed that "the music is exactly the same; all of the music from the original 2010 game is in the remaster" so expect the likes of Roy Orbison, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Harry Nilsson, Poets of the Fall, and David Bowie to make a return to help punctuate the opening and closing of the game's chapters.
Alan Wake being treated to a full remaster always felt inevitable. It's an iconic piece of Remedy history; it always deserved a larger audience. Remedy made that possible when it secured the publishing rights to Alan Wake from Microsoft in 2019, leading to Alan Wake's appearance in Control. But it was the two-game publishing deal with Epic Games announced in 2020 that has likely secured Alan Wake's future. Let's return to a statement issued by Remedy at the time: "The first project is Remedy's most ambitious one yet, an AAA multi-platform game already in pre-production. The second is a new, smaller-scale project set in the same franchise. Both games are being developed on Remedy's proprietary, state-of-the-art Northlight game engine and tools."
The second of those two projects, one could surmise, is Alan Wake Remastered. A smaller-scale experience designed to reintroduce Alan Wake to the world – to get younger players and PlayStation owners caught up with the pulpy, supernatural goings-on in Bright Falls. What of that first project, then? Remedy isn't talking just yet, but that ambitious new game, one that is "set in the same franchise" as the smaller project? Well, this is just me trying to flip to the next chapter of a story that's still being written, but I'd guess that Alan Wake 2 is closer than you might think to becoming a reality.
Alan Wake Remastered will launch in fall 2021. It's being developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Epic Games, and will land on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One.