Alan Wake II (2023) is a survival-horror shooting game where you play two intertwining lives in a dark psychedelic story. Across two worlds, one real and one nightmarish, you use your flashlight to stun hideous monsters, then kill them with your limited ammunition to discern the supernatural mystery. The first game stood out for bringing Stephen King novels to life in game form, the sequel pairs detective and horror genres similar to films like David Fincher's Seven.
You play, Alan Wake, a horror novelist, who's been trapped in a twisted alternate dimension for over a decade. In a last-ditch attempt to escape, you begin to write a story about an FBI agent named Saga Anderson investigating the location of the original game. As the story progresses, you play both these characters - author and protagonist, as the sinister mystery unfolds - in the hope that this will free Wake from his nightmare.
Play is split between sections where you control Wake in an apocalyptic vision of New York and Anderson as she explores Bright Falls. Like the original game, you defeat enemies by burning off possessions with your torch before shooting them with your gun. As Wake, the focus is on exploration and discovery by manipulating the world around you and unlocking different paths. As Anderson in Bright Falls, the play focuses more on pure combat. You need to constantly monitor your ammunition and find infrequent refills to ensure you don't end up defenceless.
The result is a game that creates a tense, intricate experience where you never know what's real and what's just your imagination. The detective and world creation elements take things in a more narrative direction than the first game. But still, whether you're jumping at your own shadow, taking on horrific monsters, or wrapping your head around the mind-bending story, it's a mesmerising dread-filled adventure from which you can't look away.
Our examiner, Ben Kendall
, first checked Alan Wake II 5 weeks ago. It was re-examined by Andy Robertson
and updated 4 weeks ago.