You've got to hand it to Remedy Entertainment's creative director Sam Lake. After a decade of trying to make it happen, his writing has finally affected reality. The studio has confirmed that Alan Wake 2 is set to arrive in 2023, teasing the upcoming survival horror for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X with a truly haunting reveal trailer.
And yes, you read that correctly: Alan Wake 2 will be Remedy Entertainment's first survival horror game. The studio has flirted with horror in the past, but it has always fallen back on the sort of high-octane action it once helped pioneer with Max Payne and later refined through Quantum Break and Control. "Whereas the first Alan Wake had horror elements in it, it was an action game," says Lake, speaking to the PlayStation Blog. "Alan Wake 2 is Remedy's first survival horror game. Our take on the genre. Our opportunity to truly connect the gameplay and the story."
Back to Bright Falls
Having recently returned to Bright Falls in Alan Wake Remastered, the opportunity for Remedy to more closely align story and gameplay seems obvious. If anything, the bigger surprise is that the studio didn't take the survival horror route with the series to begin with. That's easy to say now, of course; 11 years removed from the release of Alan Wake as an Xbox 360 platform exclusive.
The unique light and dark mechanic which allows Wake to dispatch the Taken, humans afflicted by the Dark Presence seeping into reality, feels purpose-built to induce action informed by desperation. The need to replenish a stock of torchlight batteries and emergency flares to keep the darkness at bay is survival horror 101, as is the need to carefully watch dwindling ammunition counters. Had a few tweaks to the formula been made, Alan Wake could have been to survival horror in the Xbox 360 generation what The Evil Within was to the last.
But as Remastered reminds us, Alan Wake never fully embraces survival horror – it works hard to ensure that you're rarely put in a position where your only option is to turn and run to the light to survive. Supplies are replenished plentifully throughout each episode, while the 30 hidden cache chests will often bestow more dominant weapons and disposable forms of light when the darkness is at its most suffocating.
If the tone of the Alan Wake 2 teaser trailer highlights anything, it's that Remedy wants to suffocate us. It doesn't want to simply scare us as it expands the scope of darkness beyond the boundaries of Bright Falls, but haunt us as we move into the claustrophobic streets of what appears to be New York City. That tone shift from pulp mystery to stark horror is confirmed by a wonderful line delivery from voice actor Matthew Poretta, and is so eloquently visualized by returning physical model Ilkka Villi: "This story will eat you alive. This story... is a monster."
Light in the dark
Sam Lake and Remedy Entertainment walked a long and winding road to get here. A sequel never seemed certain, if at all likely. The studio pitched a follow-up shortly after Alan Wake released in 2010, but Xbox didn't bite, forcing the team to move on. Remedy later released a video of the prototype, confirming that elements of it ultimately ended up in Alan Wake's American Nightmare – a standalone, downloadable story that launched in 2012. But Lake never abandoned this world, even as Remedy turned its attention to other corners of the universe.
"For over a decade, after Alan Wake, in between every project we have made, I have eagerly worked on Alan Wake 2 with a small core team, dreaming up different incarnations of the concept. But getting a large game project funded and greenlit is a complex effort that depends on many things, some of which are beyond our control. We never gave up hope. If anything, we grew more determined as years passed," Lake continues, adding that "Alan Wake 2 is finally happening based on our latest iteration of the concept, and not the ones that came before that." It's likely little of that original prototype remains in the game that is being developed today.
Remedy acquired the rights to Alan Wake from Microsoft in 2019, setting all of this in motion. In 2020, Remedy released the AWE expansion for Control, which established that the two games exist in one shared Remedy Connected Universe. That same year, the studio signed a publishing deal with Epic Games, where it revealed it had a "AAA" game in pre-production and a "smaller-scale project" set in the same universe; it's likely that this was Alan Wake 2 and the recently released Alan Wake Remastered.
And so we are finally going to receive the long-awaited continuation of Alan Wake's story in 2023, developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Epic Games. The tenacity and resolve of Remedy to pursue the continuation of this universe for a decade is impressive – an independent studio reclaiming IP rights from a major platform holder is unheard of, but it reflects the desire at Remedy to build on the world it created a decade ago.
It's been a long journey, but Sam Lake's persistence has finally paid off. His writing has finally affected his reality. "It's no secret that we have passionately pursued an opportunity to return to Alan Wake's story for years. All that hard work has brought us here. The stars have aligned. It's happening now, and we know the community is as passionate as we are about seeing Alan Wake's next chapter unfold."