Admittedly, I thought the next Alan Wake game I would be writing about would be the long-awaited sequel, not a remaster of the original. Nevertheless, while I believe that sequel is finally in the works, Alan Wake Remastered is a stroke of genius and not less welcome.
The original Alan Wake was released in 2010 exclusively for Xbox 360. The game faced tough competition, with Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption releasing in the same month. Critics were generally in favor of Alan Wake, and the title sold pretty okay. But publisher Microsoft was less impressed and did not greenlight a sequel. It took years before Remedy could finally acquire the publishing rights back from Microsoft. When they did, it was clear the studio was still exploring options to make the sequel happen. Not much later, Epic Games Publishing and Remedy announced they would team up to develop two new games. Both would be taking place in the same universe; one smaller-scale project and the other an AAA-production. It turns out, Alan Wake Remastered is the smaller-scale project, with all bets in favor of the other project being Alan Wake 2.
In that light, Alan Wake Remastered‘s existence is a stroke of genius. After more than a decade, the title is now available on a host of new platforms. And to a host of new players too! Whether you’re new to the series or returning, there’s plenty of reason to pick up this re-release of a timeless classic!
So what is new in Alan Wake Remastered? Well, for starters, the game has been graphically improved. Depending on the platform you play on, Alan Wake Remastered can be running in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. The game’s graphics still hold up to this day, but these changes elevate the experience. Bright Falls and its vistas have never looked so crisp. That also goes for the game’s dark and foggy environments, in which a large part of the game takes place. Enemies and collectibles are easier to spot, and the richer environmental details (improved textures and geometry) further nullify the game’s age.
“Whether you’re new to the series or returning, there’s plenty of reason to pick up this re-release of a timeless classic!”
Remedy also took this chance to update the game’s character models with improved textures and shaders. Some characters (like Alan) see an even more drastic change; their faces now better resemble the actors who played them. Alan is now a carbon copy of actor Ilkka Villi. A welcome change. Alan’s new face takes some getting used to at first, but the improved facial animations quickly convince you this change is for the better. I always thought it was a bit strange the photos you found of Alan made him look so different. Not anymore!
Apart from the graphical improvements, are there any other reasons to pick up this re-release? Definitely! If you’ve played Remedy’s Control you’re probably aware both Alan Wake and Control take place in the same universe. Without spoiling any of the fun, you’ll be delighted to know Remedy has placed subtle hints in the game that now connect certain events or people to Control. Additionally, Remedy’s Creative Director and writer of Alan Wake – Sam Lake – has recorded a brand new commentary track that gives more insight into the game’s creation. In it, he also references Control at various times, making this mode mandatory for returning players. Last but not least, the remaster also comes packed with both The Signal and The Writer DLC packages. If you haven’t played those back in the day, now is your chance to see how Alan’s story progresses.
When announcing the remaster, Remedy clearly stated it left the gameplay deliberately untouched. Yes, the studio is aware of some frustrations. Like Alan running out of breath every five steps. However, the studio feels these frustrations are part of the original experience and thus were left unchanged. There are some gameplay benefits from a smoother framerate and higher resolution. The camera turns a tad quicker, you can react faster, and enemies are easier to spot. Though, these improvements are minor and easily dismissed. If Alan Wake’s two-punch gameplay was not your cup of tea in the past, it will not be today. It’s precisely the way you remember, and for nostalgia’s sake, that’s a good thing!
Big bang for a small buck
Another good thing about the remaster is its price. I don’t understand why other media outlets don’t talk that much about this. Here in Europe, Alan Wake Remastered can be yours for about 30 euros! Considering all the improvements, that’s quite a bargain. Big bang for a small buck! The game’s campaign can be completed in about 10 hours, and if you’re a completionist collecting all the thermos can set you back a few hours more. Quite frankly, there are not many reasons not to add this game to your collection.
That last sentence pretty much summarizes my entire review. There are not many reasons not to buy Alan Wake Remastered. After more than a decade, our beloved light-wielding hero finally reemerges from the darkness to bring us his first adventure, vastly improved. Improved graphics, smoother gameplay, and additional bonus content all make it worthwhile to return to Bright Falls once more. New players can finally discover why all the fans have been begging Remedy for a sequel. Returning players can hunt for hints that further connect this game to 2019’s Control or learn more about its creation through Lake’s commentary track. Both will be left yearning for Alan Wake 2. Hopefully, that light will soon shine upon us!