Alan Wake II first look at Summer Game Fest 2023

I’m nervous about Saga Anderson’s fate in Alan Wake II – and that only makes me more excited for the full game. I saw a 30-minute hands-off preview of Alan Wake II at Summer Game Fest, set in the second chapter. The big innovation in Alan Wake II is the ability to swap between Saga and Alan himself, playing as both characters throughout the game. Chapter one begins with Saga in the driver’s seat, and after that players can choose to play as her or Alan at the beginning of each new section. Alan Wake II is a contained single-player experience and it’s due to hit PC, Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 on October 17th.

Video Transcript

JESSICA CONDITT: I'm worried about Saga Anderson. She's a seasoned FBI agent investigating a string of ritualistic deaths around Caldron Lake. And she's a little too impressed by all the supernatural gore she encounters.

At one point, she's talking to her partner about the cult activity they've seen, the dismembered body parts, and necromancy, and murderous villagers roaming the forests. And she says this place just keeps getting crazier. But this is exciting. A few scenes later, she's shoving a heart through a portal to another realm and inviting a witch to show her the terror.

So yeah, I'm nervous about Saga's fate in Alan Wake II, and that only makes me more excited for the full game. I saw a 30-minute hands off preview at Summer Game Fest set in the second chapter. By this time, Saga has made her peace with the paranormal darkness all around her. She's already pulled a manuscript page out of a corpse's chest cavity and followed its instructions to Caldron Lake, the setting of the original game.

Alan Wake came out 13 years ago. And the timeline in the sequel has also progressed 13 years. The writer Alan Wake has been missing that whole time. And Saga is hunting the ghost of FBI agent Robert Nightingale, who was killed at the end of the first game. In chapter 2, Saga and her partner are deep in the Pacific Northwest woods.

The preview shows off gorgeous lighting, character models and environments plus satisfying looking gunplay and flashlight play. Dialogue scenes between Saga and her partner aren't rushed, establishing the narrative and letting it breathe. And players can choose how to respond in a few moments.

The two agents split up. And there are a series of simple puzzles for Saga to solve, like collecting a fuse or finding the right numbers to crack a lock, all while a sense of dread constantly builds in the background. The preview provides some serious early Resident Evil vibes.

As Saga attempts to solve the mysteries around her, she can jump into her mind place to organize clues and connect the dots. Her mind place looks like a 90s police station, with photos and notes connected by red string along one wood paneled wall. This is where Saga can manipulate the evidence she's found, placing clues near each other to see if they're related and unlocking the path forward.

If she gets stuck, she can go to the desk in the center of the room and commune with her subjects, asking them for answers based on the clues she's gathered. This is called profiling in the game. Saga can enter her mind place at any time.

There are a few jump scares in the preview, where the screen quickly cuts to a screaming face or an enemy suddenly burst through a doorway. But they're well-placed and not overdone. Saga feels capable and curious. Maybe a little too curious for her own good, but we'll have to see how that plays out in the full game.

At the end of the preview, Alan suddenly appears in the woods with Saga, screaming about dark paranormal forces and confused by how long he's been missing. The big innovation in Alan Wake II is the ability to swap between characters, playing as both Saga and Alan himself. Chapter 1 begins with Saga in the driver's seat. And after that, players can choose to play as her or Alan in each new section of the game.

A Remedy spokesperson said the studio is still fine-tuning the swap mechanic. They don't necessarily want players changing characters every five minutes for the sake of narrative flow. But they still want it to feel like a meaningful choice.

Alan Wake II is a contained single-player experience. And it doesn't have a bunch of side quests, according to Remedy. There are a few small missions to complete parallel to the main storyline, but this is first and foremost a linear, narrative-driven game. Alan Wake II is due to hit PC, Xbox Series X/S, and PlayStation 5 on October 17. We'll be here at Summer Game Fest for the next few days, so stay tuned to and subscribe to the YouTube channel for all the latest news.