The first gameplay preview of Alan Wake 2

By Craig Pearson

Welcome back to Bright Falls, a place where words on the page can shape reality. 

Alan Wake first discovered this twisted little town and its creepy surroundings over a decade ago when he encountered the Dark Presence that was slowly encroaching on the real world from the Dark Place. In Alan Wake 2, he’s trapped in the Dark Place, having sacrificed his freedom to keep the Dark Presence there. He’s now joined outside the Dark Place by FBI Special Agent Saga Anderson, a new playable character who is the focus of the gameplay sequence we’ve been invited to watch. 

The First Gameplay Preview Of Alan Wake 2 Saga Anderson

We first meet FBI Special Agent Saga Anderson while she’s hunting for a body. It’s one that she’s familiar with: the corpse of former FBI Agent Robert Nightingale was already autopsied by Agent Anderson. She pulled a manuscript page out of his corpse before the body fled the morgue, possessed and compelled to return to Cauldron Lake. The page leads Anderson and her partner to a crime scene at the lake searching for an “Overlap.” This is where our first look at Alan Wake 2 begins. 

As an FBI investigator, Anderson has the talent, and the tools, to solve impossible cases. A dead man returning to life is definitely a tough challenge, but it’s one she and her partner, Agent Alex Casey, take in their stride. “Monsters, Overlaps, rituals” seemingly hold no fear for the two agents. 

The crime scene, a flooded picnic area covered in ritualistic scrawls, reveals footprints leading into the woods. It’s here we’re introduced to Agent Anderson’s investigative powers. At any point in the game, she can enter a room in her psyche called her “Mind Place.” Everything about the investigation is stored here. A Case Board takes up a whole wall, covered in clues. Saga places notes and photographs here, moving them around and making connections that will push the investigation onwards. New deductions will be revealed on the board when the clues are placed correctly. 

The First Gameplay Preview Of Alan Wake 2 Crime Scene

Anderson places a photo of the footprints on the board, where a connection is made to a note asking “Where did Nightingale go?” prompting her to exit the Mind Place. Leaving her partner at the crime scene, she searches for the “Overlap” that was mentioned in the manuscript. 

Deeper into the rain-filled forest, following the footprints, Anderson is led to a tree with a dark artifact that reacts to her flashlight, revealing more pages from the book. The pages, written by Alan, are mapping out her future. Pages are clues, so Anderson returns to her Mind Place to further her investigation. Alan is leading her to the “Witches Hut,” and having seen what her flashlight can do and reading Alan’s suggestions about fuses and lights, moves the clues around to reveal a deduction: light is the key. It protects and reveals. 

This is confirmed when Anderson reaches the Witch’s Hut, not too far from the tree, where a replaced fuse lights up the shed and turns it into a “Break Room,” a safe space where the game can be saved, and more clues can be found. Some Break Rooms will also allow players to move between realities, where they can play as Alan Wake in the Dark Place or return to Bright Falls as Saga. 

The hut also has more clues: a page in which Alan reveals more of the ritual, which involves Nightingale’s missing heart and a witch. Anderson returns to her Mind Place to sort through the clues on the Case Board, revealing multiple threads which can only be resolved with a new form of investigation. Saga needs to Profile.

Profiling is done at a desk in her Mind Place. Staring at a photo of Nightingale, surrounded by notes (“The Heart,” “The Page,” “The Overlap,” and more) that prompt her into the mind of the killer, she hunts for the truth. Nightingale appears, talking vaguely, which reveals little. Anderson digs deeper with updated prompts, focusing on his missing heart, which eventually uncovers that his missing organ is being kept in a fridge in a store nearby the cabin. It’s another step toward the Overlap. 

The First Gameplay Preview Of Alan Wake 2 Store

The store isn’t far, but it’s protected by an ax-wielding, deer-masked cultist with unnatural strength and resolve. It’s the first fight that shows the one-two punch that’s required to take down the enemies. A blast of light beamed into the dark artifact at the cultist’s heart weakens the target, and a volley of bullets knocks them back. It takes a few rounds of the combo to take him down, leaving Anderson free to search the store, where she finds a shotgun and the heart. 

With the heart in hand, Saga needs to find the witch. As she hunts through the forest, getting closer to the Overlap, she’s ambushed by cultists. The larger encounter shows off the more tactical and combo-based fights in Alan Wake 2. Light is an important element. The flashlight and gun combo keeps them at bay, but there are now areas flooded with light that provide a brief respite to reload as well. If they get too close and grab Anderson, she can pull out a lit flare and cram it into their mouth to stun them. With the cultists defeated, Anderson staggers onwards and finds the witch, represented by an information board with a drawing of the witch on it and a perfectly round hole where her heart is. Anderson pushes Nightingale’s heart into the hole and recites the words Alan wrote, revealing the Overlap. 

Inside is the familiar forest, but twisted in on itself, looping around to disorient anyone inside. Anderson stumbles through, hearing her son call out, seeing glimpses of Alan, and being led on by Nightingale’s rantings. She stumbles on the dead FBI agent, a hulking, gray man with his heart now glowing in his chest, wielding a tree limb to fight her off. He cowers from Anderson’s light, and they battle through the trees, with the dead man eventually overwhelmed and defeated. 

The First Gameplay Preview Of Alan Wake 2 Overlap

And with that, Alan finds Anderson and warns her of danger before both are spat out of the Overlap. Alan, covered in mud and ranting about the Dark Presence “changing the story,” may finally have been released from the Dark Place.  

Alan Wake 2 is out October 17, 2023 on Epic Games Store. Pre-purchase it today.