Alan Wake 2 review: Am I high right now?

Remedy Entertainment
Remedy Entertainment /

Game: Alan Wake 2
Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Publisher: Epic Games
Platform: Xbox Series X/S, PS5 (Reviewed On), Windows
Release Date: October 27th, 2023

Games that hit hard on warping your concept of reality can be some of the best on the market when done well. There are few things more trippy than walking into a room in a game only to turn around and everything you thought was there is gone. Games like Layers of Fear have become masters in it but there has always been another contender out there, picking at the seams of your sanity and wearing away the edges and that’s Alan Wake. Thirteen years after the first game was released, fans finally have a sequel in Alan Wake 2 and don’t worry, this will mess up your mind even more than the last one. Someone call Criss Angel because you’re about to be mind freaked.

Alan Wake 2 takes place 13 years after the events of the first game. While it isn’t necessary to play the first game to enjoy Alan Wake 2, I would recommend watching some gameplay or at the very least reading up on what occurred, if only to understand some of this franchise’s weirdness and maybe the story, too. You play as two characters in this game: Saga Anderson, an FBI agent sent into the town of Bright Falls, Washington to investigate a series of killings seemingly with ritualistic properties and Alan Wake, a writer that has been missing for over a decade. Unfortunately for Saga, this isn’t a run-of-the-mill cult murder and she finds herself deep in the plot of a deer-faced cult and a supernatural being that wants to escape.

Alan Wake 2
Remedy Entertainment /

Speaking of escape, novelist Alan Wake disappeared years ago and wouldn’t you just know it, he pops up again in the midst of the murders. It turns out Wake is still writing in an attempt to leave the Dark Place where he was trapped over a decade ago. And he is successful…kinda? When Alan turns up on the lakeshore, Saga sees that the story he wrote to escape is changing reality and the changes hit a little too close to home. She works with Alan to get the evil entity where it belongs, all the while trying to make sure her reality stays intact.

Did that sound confusing? Because it is. Alan Wake 2 (and the first game while we’re at it) is one of the trippiest, weirdest and most confusing stories I have ever played. When games begin to play with the fabric of reality and multiple dimensions, that means these writers can get really freaky with it and get freaky they do. It’s not the time loops or the map changing or even the random musical number that will be stuck in your head for a week that is the most confusing. Nay, nay. It is the concept of the story itself that will throw you for a loop…and then another loop and then a twist that will make you throw up in your lap and then another loop.

Alan Wake 2
Remedy Entertainment /

I don’t want it to seem like I didn’t enjoy the game. It was the exact opposite, in fact. Alan Wake 2 is a lot of fun. Play any random 20 minutes of the game and you will feel like you have entered a bad acid trip. There are so many colors, flashing images and use of live action with the animation that will make you wonder if you are watching a real person versus an animation. That is also to say that the graphics are incredible. To confuse animated parts with live action and vice versa is a great compliment to the devs. For all of its weirdness, Alan Wake 2 is actually pretty scary, most of it leaning heavily on flashing jump scares. Regardless, there are plenty of moments of increasing tension in the darkness where light is your only savior and your batteries are running out.

Alongside the amazing graphics are some pretty intense bugs, the most noticeable of which is a texture issue. In a certain light, certain surfaces (metal specifically) will shimmer and glitter brighter than Edward Cullen in the hot Italian sun. It doesn’t happen constantly but when it does, it is VERY distracting. There are also some issues with character movement sometimes feeling really stiff or catching on pieces of the environment but for the most part movement and combat feels fairly smooth.

Alan Wake 2 is weird as balls and honestly I’m not sure how better to explain it. It is so goddamn trippy and I had a blast with it. It was silly sometimes and scary sometimes. I love mystery games where you have cases and evidence to sort through and with Saga, you have a case wall where you place your evidence and sort through it and that part is fun as hell. Playing as Alan is less mystery solving and more spooky vibes, so I enjoyed the Saga parts a lot more. A neat aspect of Alan’s playthrough is that you can re-write the story and change the world around you, opening paths and walled off areas. While the story is linear, it does give you the option to bounce between characters and storylines as you like which gives you a chance to take a break from each style.

Alan Wake 2 definitely has a different feel than the first installment but it was thoroughly enjoyable. I enjoy a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously and I do like when a game makes you feel like your brain is melting. I only wish I understood it a little better.

Alan Wake 2 (PS5) Score: 8.5/10

Alan Wake 2 is a fun romp through dark dimensions, offering chances to change the world around you, all the while giving you plenty of jump scares. There are some texture bugs to work through, but overall,  it is definitely a worthy sequel to the first game.

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A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.