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Alan Wake 2 dodges the first game’s biggest problem

Alan Wake 2 is more of a survival horror experience than the first game’s action-driven adventure, and Remedy says the focus is placed on the story this time.

Alan Wake 2 combat - close-up on the face of the bearded author.

Alan Wake 2 promises to be a fairly different game from its predecessor, and that’s a good thing. While the atmosphere and setting of the original Alan Wake in 2010 was certainly ominous and surreal, it’s held back by a rather clunky combat system. Fortunately, the move to a more pure survival horror game with Alan Wake 2 ensures that this won’t be the case again, something developer Remedy confirms with PCGamesN at Gamescom 2023.

Remedy’s capacity for combat has certainly improved over the years – while Quantum Break and Control don’t necessarily break new ground, they both deliver very solid, enjoyable action-first shooting with some neat abilities. But that pacing would feel rather at odds with the overall tone of Alan Wake – much as it did back in 2010. While the dynamic of weakening the Taken with your flashlight to open them up for attack was a fun concept, the overall pacing of combat detracted from the experience more than adding to it.

Sam Lake, creative director at Remedy, tells us in an interview at Gamescom that the team tried to make Alan Wake 2 many times but only succeeded now, something he’s glad of because of the final product they’ve ended up creating. Alan Wake 2 director Kyle Rowley adds that the team was intent on creating a more “cohesive package” than the first game, and that means more focus on pure survival horror.

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The gameplay we get to see comes from an early section of the game, according to Rowley, marking the first real time Alan himself faces combat. “So we’re still onboarding a lot of mechanics,” he explains, “rest assured there will be a difficulty ramp-up as you’re playing through the experience.” Nevertheless, there’s certainly less combat on show than the first game, and it appears that much of it can be avoided if you’re careful.

“It’s also worth saying, it’s a very story-focused experience,” Lake adds. “We also want players who are not so skilled in horror games or combat overall to be able to enjoy the story.” He confirms the presence of different difficulty modes to assist in this endeavor, including a story mode to make things easier, while those who want to feel the pressure can opt for something tougher.

If you want more to keep you busy in the run-up to the Alan Wake 2 release date, we’ve got a collection of the best single-player games to keep you more than satisfied.

Gamescom 2023 reporting provided by Ed Smith.