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Hands-On Preview: Alan Wake II

Alan Wake II looks to be another scary trip to the country.

Image: Remedy Entertainment / Epic Games
Image: Remedy Entertainment / Epic Games

In anticipation of Alan Wake II being released on October 27th for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC, the good people at Remedy Entertainment and Epic Games Publishing recently held an event. It was held at Los Angeles' City Market Social House where journalists got to play parts of this upcoming survival horror game.

And if that time is any indication of the final game, Alan Wake II will both delight and surprise fans of the original.

For those who never played the first game — or haven't since it came out thirteen years ago — 2010's Alan Wake was a scary third-person shooter in the vein of Dead Space if instead of a mechanic on a spaceship blasting zombies, you're a trigger-reluctant writer looking for his wife in Bright Falls, Washington, a small town in the Pacific Northwest populated by possessed locals.

But unlike Alan Wake, in which you only played as the titular author, Alan Wake II also has you visiting Bright Falls as FBI agent Saga Anderson, who's sent to investigate some ritualistic murders.

Alan Wake II: The Saga Begins

Image: Remedy Entertainment / Epic Games
Image: Remedy Entertainment / Epic Games

It was with Anderson that we began our time in Bright Falls; specifically, her third chapter, "Local Girl." In it, you're looking for the keys to a trailer, which takes you to an abandoned amusement park.

But while the original Wake was combat-focused, this sequel's more of a Resident Evil 4-esque survival horror game in that you also have to explore your surroundings, talk to people, sift through clues, and solve situational puzzles.

Alan Wake II even expands on how Bright Falls is constructed, as the town is more open and multi-pathed, kind of like the one in Resident Evil: Village.

That said, Alan Wake II does have the same unique combat as the original. Before you shoot someone, you have to cleanse them of darkness by using flashlights or other sources of illumination, which adds an interesting layer to these gunfights.

Not surprisingly, the gunplay works the same whether you're playing as Anderson or Wake. This quickly became apparent when we switched over to play Wake's fifth mission, "Room 665." In it, Wake is tasked with locating a hotel in a city located in the Dark Place, the alternate dimension where we left him at the end of the first game.

Alan Wake II: Electric Light Boogaloo

Image: Remedy Entertainment / Epic Games
Image: Remedy Entertainment / Epic Games

But while Wake has to explore and solve puzzles, he's also armed with a lamp that can capture or release light in certain places, changing their layouts. For instance, a blocked path to a darkened subway platform becomes an open and well-light stairway. It's like when you flipped between the past and present in Titanfall 2 or between realities in Starfield.

So, how well did this all work? If the two hours we spent with Anderson and Wake are any indication, this sequel is going to be as scary good as the first one, but deeper and more varied. And should be even more interesting when we can decide when to switch between Anderson's and Wake's worlds (which you can do when you're in a safe space).

We'll find out for certain when Alan Wake II is released for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on October 27th.

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