I got my hands on Alan Wake 2 during a recent preview event, letting me explore two slices of the game as the titular troubled author and FBI agent Saga Anderson. You can read about my experience with Alan’s segment here, but Saga’s side shows plenty of promise and narrative intrigue.
My demo begins with Saga in the third chapter of her campaign. She arrives in the small town of Watery in search of the Clicker, a serial killer who seemingly has ties to the menacing Cult of the Tree.
Investigations are Saga’s forte, and I’m tasked with probing Watery’s various villagers in search of leads. Touring the town gives me strong vibes of the first Alan Wake game; in fact, at this point, I have the option to hop in a car and fast-travel to Bright Falls. As an FBI agent, this early section heavily focuses on collecting clues based on gathering information from certain residents and reading documents, signs, and other texts.
Investigation progress is tracked in a menu called the Mind Map. This feature is presented as a cabin-like room that acts as an interactive menu. You can walk over to different areas to access categories such as flow charts for posting and connecting clues to various mysteries, upgrading weapons, and pursuing subject profiles, among other things. The Case Board, for example, is a wall displaying a flowchart of photos, clues, and relationships connected by tape. As I gather new information, I place photos in their correct category on the wall, such as those pertaining to specific locations, a person of interest, or a certain event.
The room-like presentation made entering Mind Map jarring at first, as it seemed like I suddenly fast-traveled to a new area rather than entering a menu. Thankfully, you can switch to a more traditional menu screen, with categories represented as tabs rather than as physical locations you have to walk to in the Mind Map.
After a few conversations with the quirky residents, I’m pointed towards two brothers who speak as if Saga has lived in Watery for years and treat her presence as a return of sorts. Saga is initially taken aback but is savvy enough to play along. Our strange chat points me toward my “home” in a nearby trailer park. However, accessing it requires collecting a key from Coffee Land, a nearby coffee-themed amusement park.
As I traverse an eerie forest path to the park, I get my first taste of combat as a shadowy speedster attacks. The over-the-shoulder gunplay feels good, with weapons such as my pistol and shotgun packing a satisfying punch. I’m reminded of Resident Evil 4’s action as I side-step incoming hatchets the enemy throws while firing shots. Nailing headshots is tricky as my pistol doesn’t sport the greatest accuracy; thankfully, you can improve this attribute and others in the Mind Map’s weapon upgrade menu. Of course, holding a shoulder bumper to concentrate your flashlight beam can render these shadowy threats more vulnerable to gunfire.
Along the way, I find various locked coolers placed by cult members. These are tied to optional puzzles to find their combination, and the rewards can be substantial. In addition to resource caches, you can also find a crossbow to add to your arsenal.
I arrive at Coffee Land, which is currently closed. The lack of visitors and unsettling atmosphere make the otherwise silly destination a creepy jaunt. Getting into the locked staff office requires locating a screwdriver to pry the lock open. Coffee Land is a small maze of caffeine-inspired attractions, and I solve a few environmental puzzles during my stay. That includes deducing padlock combinations based on the staff’s duties or identifying the correct booths on the Ferris wheel. I found the puzzles I encountered to be generally clever and well-designed, challenging me to think and observe carefully without the game tipping me off too much on how to proceed.
I eventually find the Perculator, a spinning cup ride guarded by hook-throwing enemies (possibly twisted versions of the park staff). While I need to take them out to collect a screwdriver in the operator’s booth, I do my best to avoid other threats patrolling the park. That eventually goes badly, and taking on multiple threats is a challenging proposition due to my limited ammo and flashlight battery. I manage to repel the onslaught by the small group of enemies, but barely. I reach and unlock the staff office, find the key inside of a safe, and proceed towards the trailer park.
Saga’s section offered a nice mix of low-key investigative gameplay and tension-filled action. While a little more grounded than Alan’s side of the story (relatively speaking), it still featured plenty of bizarre moments and feels like an improved, modernized take on the first game’s vibe. I’m looking forward to seeing how her tale unfolds when Alan Wake 2 launches on October 27.
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