As we get our latest look at Alan Wake 2 during Gamescom 2023, Remedy creative director Sam Lake says the team “could not have made this game earlier.” In an interview attended by PCGamesN at the event, Lake and Alan Wake 2 director Kyle Rowley tell us how the survival horror game plays on the history of Remedy itself.
Asked why now is the time for Alan Wake’s return, Lake responds, “This is the first time we’ve succeeded.” He laughs. “We’ve been trying through the years,” he adds, “and the time was not right back then, looking back at those pitches and concepts that we created. I am really, really happy that none of them were made, because that meant that this got made now – and we could not have made this game earlier.”
The initial concepts for Alan Wake 2, he explains, were “quite different,” from the genre itself to some of the new strategies devised by the Remedy team while making its biggest breakout success in Control. With a nod from Rowley, Lake also says that one of the main reasons for the game’s triumphant return in 2023 was Rowley’s availability as a director.
“In the first game we had a horror story,” Rowley says, “but the gameplay was much more action focused. One of the things we really wanted to do was make sure that we created a cohesive package as an experience – so the idea of making a survival horror game just felt natural.” He says the team is a big fan of the recent Resident Evil remakes, and also references the upcoming Silent Hill remakes, too.
“We’ve just come off making Control,” Rowley continues, “and we learned a lot about how we can do interactive storytelling there and just wanted to push that forward for this game. Slowing down the gameplay, focusing on the world, focusing on the atmosphere, focusing on the characters; it’s aligned very well with the genre, so I think everything just happened to fall into place. Me coming back as well,” he laughs.
With the introduction of the ‘Remedy Connected Universe’ and numerous actors making appearances in multiple Remedy games, including Lake himself as the face of Alex Casey (and, previously and most famously, Max Payne), we ask how the team views Alan Wake 2 as a personal work charting the journey of Remedy over the years. Is that intentional, and is it something the team enjoys playing into?
“Yes, that is part of it,” Lake replies. “I do feel that every single game has, in some ways, been a metaphor of the process of getting it made – the struggles along the way. The first Alan Wake already was very much about our creative process, where we were coming from and what we were trying to achieve. Quantum Break, where time is breaking down and running out, that’s the feeling you have when you’re making a game.
As for the returning cast members, Lake says, “I really love working with great, wonderful, talented actors that we’ve worked with before, where we have found that it works really well.” He describes writing the role of Dr Darling in Control for (Alan Wake actor) Matthew Porretta “to have fun with.” Also mentioned is Max Payne actor James McCaffrey, who “has been in pretty much all of our projects – it just felt too delicious of an opportunity to pass, the idea of Casey drawing a lot of the same much-loved noir and hard-boiled elements that I was drawing from when coming up with Max Payne.”
Neither Max Payne nor 2016’s Quantum Break are part of the Remedy Connected Universe, Lake previously confirmed to EW, but he tells us that “we’ve always talked about needing to collaborate on something” with former Quantum Break lead Shawn Ashmore since that project, and that “the idea of what the character was [in Alan Wake 2] was written for Shawn.”
Gamescom 2023 reporting provided by Ed Smith.