Since its launch in 2010, Alan Wake has been synonymous with Twin Peaks. Treatment Interactive and director Sam Lake have by no means been shy about how David Lynch’s traditional TV present formed the horror recreation. Alan Wake wears that inspiration on its sleeve, with its midwestern setting and eccentric solid of characters that really feel like they may very well be regulars on the Double R Diner.
So, it comes as no shock that its sequel, the upcoming Alan Wake 2, continues that development. In a hands-off demo at this 12 months’s Summer season Sport Fest, I used to be welcomed again to the eerie city of Vibrant Falls which is simply as atmospheric and unsettling as ever. Although whereas that David Lynch affect remains to be current, the sequel appears to be entering into a very new route, one that pulls from a broader spectrum of influences.
In the event you’re anticipating the identical oddball, camp-horror vibe that made Alan Wake a cult hit, you is likely to be stunned by what Alan Wake 2 has in retailer. From what I’ve seen to date, the sequel appears to be extra True Detective than Twin Peaks, trying on the bizarre world of Vibrant Falls by means of the lens of a dramatic procedural this time. And it does that whereas modernizing the unique’s horror method, making it really feel extra in step with Capcom’s present wave of Resident Evil remakes. Although that’s to not say the sequel has misplaced any of its weirdness.
The gameplay section I noticed at Summer season Sport Fest was based mostly solely round Saga, a brand new character within the sequel. She’s an FBI agent who will get despatched to Vibrant Falls to analyze a cult, sending her deep into the woods along with her associate. Alan Wake himself shall be playable within the recreation as effectively, however Treatment is presently staying mum about what his gameplay seems like within the Darkish Place. As a substitute, I’d get to see half-hour of Saga’s investigation, which has a wholly distinct tone from the unique recreation.
It’s onerous to get a full sense of the sport from the slow-paced snippet I noticed. My demo started with Saga slowly strolling by means of the woods, choosing up unfastened clues and soaking within the environment. It’s not the identical campy, off-kilter tone I got here to like within the first recreation; somewhat, the sequence performs out like a straighter detective procedural with the duo making an attempt to piece collectively clues a few supernatural killer on the unfastened.
I imply that actually, too. One distinctive a part of Saga’s gameplay is that she’s in a position to retreat right into a room inside her thoughts the place she will bodily manage all clues she finds. A number of instances throughout the demo, I watched her pin clues she’d found whereas exploring up on an proof board, with pink strings tying every little thing collectively. Later, I’d see her “query” suspects in that area by an image of them and selecting some dialogue prompts that assist her work out some leads. It’s in contrast to something within the first Alan Wake, going for a extra cerebral investigation system on high of its conventional third-person exploration.
Throughout a Q&A after the demo, I requested the event staff readily available concerning the authentic recreation’s hyperlink to Twin Peaks and whether or not or not that carried over to the sequel. They confirmed that the present was nonetheless a serious affect on the sport, however famous that the story attracts from extra influences this time. When a staff member cited True Detective as an inspiration, the Saga gameplay immediately made extra sense. The snippet I noticed definitely carries the HBO present’s gritty, severe tone greater than the eccentric melodrama David Lynch is thought for. I think about the latter would possibly nonetheless be current in Alan Wake’s gameplay segments, however the staff says it’ll reveal extra about these later this summer season.
It’s a stunning change of tempo, however one which makes good sense in context. Alan Wake 2 goals for straight-up survival horror this time round, taking clear inspiration from Capcom’s Resident Evil remakes. The part I noticed actually seemed and felt like Resident Evil 2, from its useful resource shortage to its grid-like stock system. Although it’s the motion that makes that connection particularly clear. Gun fights really feel like they have been pulled straight out of Capcom’s remakes, with Saga slowly and methodically taking pictures holes in creepy, supernatural cultists. Even when she shoves a flare in a single’s mouth, the animation isn’t so totally different from Leon S. Kennedy stabbing a zombie within the head in Resident Evil 4. All of that makes the sequel really feel considerably extra trendy, doubtless a essential transfer contemplating how of its time its predecessor feels.
Although I loved the extra conventional survival horror gameplay I noticed, I couldn’t assist however marvel if the sequel was dropping an excessive amount of of Treatment’s signature weirdness. That concern was alleviated within the final leg of the demo the place the unexplainable creepiness kicked into excessive gear. The ultimate sequence sees Saga strolling by means of a darkish part of the woods as tunnels and alleyways overlay on high of the display. It’s an unsettling picture, one which made it clear that there’s one thing otherworldly occurring underneath the floor. That might grow to be particularly clear with one ultimate twist on the finish of the demo. After discovering Alan Wake washed up on the seaside, she mentions that he’s been lacking for 13 years, one thing that comes as an absolute shock to each him and myself.
That ending sequence was sufficient to hook me, convincing me that Treatment’s model hasn’t been misplaced in its modernized strategy to horror. Even with that AAA recreation and status TV drama affect, Alan Wake 2 isn’t going full Final of Us or something like that. The oddball playfulness of the unique remains to be current under its darkish floor, with a layer of unexplainable supernatural thriller that I’m able to get misplaced in. The Twin Peaks affect remains to be very a lot current; simply anticipate extra of the surrealist horror of The Return than the camp of its first two seasons.
Alan Wake 2 launches on October 17 for PS5, Xbox Collection X/S, and PC.