One Of Alan Wake 2's Scary Campaigns Is A "Breather" Because The Other Is So Terrifying
Alan Wake's gameplay is said to be so scary, that co-protagonist Saga Anderson's story is considered a breather for players... but still very scary.
One of Alan Wake 2's two campaigns is so scary that developer Remedy Entertainment considers its other protagonist's world of Bright Falls a "breather" for players--despite also having plenty of frights.
Sitting down with Alan Wake's co-director Kyle Rowley and senior narrative designer Molly Maloney for an interview following a hands-off demo of Alan Wake 2, they told me that the campaign starring Alan Wake, which takes place in the otherworldly dimension known as the Dark Place, is so terrifying, that by comparison, co-protagonist's Saga Anderson's campaign was deliberately paced to be lighter and quirkier in tone--albeit one still filled with deer-headed cultists, supernatural creatures, and scares.
Kyle Rowley told me that, unlike the Dark Place (where Alan Wake is presumably trapped alone in a nightmarish realm resembling twisted memories of his time in New York City), Bright Falls will have plenty of levity. Oh, and even daylight.
"We have daytime scenes. We have quirky characters to talk to," Rowley said "So by creating this duality and these two experiences, we wanted to allow the player to be like, 'Oh, actually, you know what, this sequence [in the Dark Place] is a bit too scary for me--I remember Saga was in Bright Falls, so I'm going to do that, and talk to some quirky people,'" which players can do in break rooms (the game's take on Resident Evil-style safe rooms).
Exploring Bright Falls and all its eccentricities was a core tenet of the first game, so it's a welcome return. In the original, players had the chance as Alan Wake to engross themselves in the seemingly idyllic and innocent smalltown of Bright Falls and all its Americana sensibilities: hanging out at the Oh, Deer Diner, talking to the Alan Wake-obsessed server, or listening to the Anderson brothers in the corner booth talk about Harry Nillson's Coconut song. It's just that this time, however, you'll be exploring it through the perspective of FBI agent Saga Anderson, who has come to the smalltown to investigate a series of ritualistic murders.
All of this isn't to suggest that Saga's campaign won't be scary, however. "It's not a walk in the park," Molly Maloney said. "You can't sustain fear forever. Like you need to laugh, to cry, you know?"
During my hands-off preview of Alan Wake 2, I got to see some of Saga Anderson's gameplay, which was, by all accounts, still terrifying and filled with jump scares, tense close encounters, and a lingering sense of looming dread. But in between its more survival-horror-style gameplay, there were quieter moments where Saga would ruminate over evidence and investigate her surroundings, which included talking to some of the townsfolk.
It's a balance that's reminiscent of Coen Brothers films, which Kyle noted as one of the game's main inspirations. While not horror, it specifically reminded me of Miller's Crossing and Fargo, both of which featured intense and graphic scenes of violence, often interwoven with the more grounded lives of its goofier (but still incredibly believable) characters. It's a delicate balance that pierces through the tension and makes the rather harder subject matter easier to bear.
Even still, we don't actually know what Alan Wake's gameplay looks like yet. Though Bright Falls is grounded in our reality, by contrast, the Dark Place appears to be a full-blown, non-stop nightmare. While there are still many questions left unanswered, we put together a gallery of 11 clues we spotted in its gameplay reveal trailer. Additionally, we talked with the game's writer/director Sam Lake about bringing Alan Wake back 13 years after the original, and why sometimes it's better to be left with questions rather than answers. Alan Wake 2 is expected to release October 17 for Xbox Series X|S, PS5, and PC exclusive to the Epic Game Store.
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