'Alan Wake II' Couldn't Be a Bigger Disappointment

I didn't want to write this article. In fact, I wanted so badly to like Alan Wake II for so many reasons but after a time I realized that I was trying to force myself to enjoy it. So much so that I noticed I was unconsciously making excuses for it while I played. 

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The game is garbage, and after a time, I went looking for a reason why. It turns out, someone had already done the digging and found that the reason this game that people have been waiting 13 years for was socio-political. 

It was infected with the woke mind virus. 

But let's start from the beginning. Some of my readers aren't going to know what I'm talking about when I say "Alan Wake II," but you should know because knowing the story of this game's creation will give you an idea as to where we're at in the culture war on the largest money-making fronts in escapism; the video game industry. 

Alan Wake was made by a studio called "Remedy." It was known for its action-packed titles such as the Max Payne series which blended bullet time mechanics with mind-bending storytelling. While the studio would pump out other titles, it would release two that would set it apart from other studios. One game was called "Control," but before that, it released a title called "Alan Wake."  

Alan Wake centered on the title character, a successful author suffering from a severe case of writer's block. He and his wife Alice take a vacation to Bright Falls, a quaint small town in the North East. Tragedy strikes when Alice falls off the balcony of their cabin into Cauldron Lake below, but Wake notices that his wife is dragged under by a shadowy figure. After going in after her, he wakes up in a wrecked car a week later with no memory of what happened during that time.

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The player soon learns that Cauldron Lake isn't what it seems. It can turn fiction into reality, and as Wake, the player plays out the story of Wake's attempt to rescue his wife using his skills as a writer. It's a bizarre but well-told story that has even the player guessing at what is and isn't narratively true. It was a masterpiece and an example of how video games had overtaken movies in terms of being the great storyteller. 

That was 13 years ago. 

Remedy would release other games that didn't quite live up to the studio's full potential, but then it would release 2019's "Control," a game about a mysterious government bureau that handles supernatural events in the world. You play Jesse Faden, a woman looking for her long-lost brother who was kidnapped by this government bureau. In her quest to find him, she inadvertently gets sucked into one of the most intriguing stories in video game history. "Control" was Remedy upping their game, learning from their mistakes, and improving on what they did best. Personally, it's one of my all-time favorites.

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Moreover (slight spoiler), they managed to tie "Control" and "Alan Wake" into the same narrative universe, meaning that the Remedyverse's mysteries went far deeper than fans could have thought. 

So you can imagine how much Remedy fans, including yours truly, were excited for Alan Wake II. Fast forward to October 2023 when the game finally releases and...


...I'll try to keep spoilers to a minimum.

The game is gorgeous and there'd been a lot of care put into the visuals...but that's where the compliments end. 

The gameplay feels stiff and repetitive. Combat feels like a bad rip-off of Resident Evil 4 and the enemies don't bring enough challenge to make up for it. They become more of an annoyance.

But I could even forgive all that. I didn't buy "Alan Wake II" because I expected a mind-blowing action experience like "Control". I was primarily here for the story. I was here for Alan Wake.

But you don't get Alan Wake. You get Saga Anderson, a strong woman of color who is — as the game makes sure you know right away — one of the best detectives in the bureau. While you eventually get to play Wake, Wake is no longer who he used to be. While I can imagine that Wake's experiences would change him, he's now...less. Wake is skittish and fearful. He's borderline annoying, in fact. This makes Saga look like the stronger character by comparison. 

You don't even get a good deal of time with him either.

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Do you see where this is going? 

The reason Alan Wake II seems so neutered is because it was. The first heads up I got as to why was from Az of YouTube's HeelvsBabyface who exposed that the game was written with the "help" of a company called "Sweet Baby Inc.," a Canadian company that politically sanitizes video games so that they're more acceptable to "modern audiences." 

(READ: The Lie of the 'Modern Audience')

In other words, it's a leftist company that makes video games more woke in order to be acceptable to hard-leftist standards. 

For those who want to skip the video, Remedy handed the storywriting reins over to Sweet Baby and the company got to work on doing what every woke entity does to anything it gets its hands on; tearing it apart and making it awful. 

First, it took Saga Anderson's character and race-swapped her. Hilariously, within the game, Saga is still billed as being of "Scandinavian descent," with Saga confirming she's of Swedish origin. The race swap makes no sense, but ESG rules dictate white people have to go even if it doesn't make sense to do it. 

It's more acceptable racism, but this is hardly the biggest issue.

Thanks to the "sensitivity" assurance that Sweet Baby does for any games it gets its grasp on, the story is just...boring, and this is partly thanks to Saga being such a two-dimensional character. Like many modern stories, it has to fit within the rules set by ESG guidelines, and the main female character (in this case, Saga) can have few flaws, if any. 

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She's not just the best detective, she's a medical examiner who doesn't need to use gloves. She's stoic. She's referred to as a "Viking" from time to time. When she hears distressing news, she's not affected. She can (slight spoilers) watch a dead man with no heart rise up and slaughter police officers around her...and she'll just shrug it off like it's just another Tuesday. She's a cardboard cutout of a character much like many "strong women" archetypes are nowadays and affects the mood of the story.

Then there is the method of storytelling. Remedy rarely relies too much on jump scares to bring a feeling of tension. It lets the story and environment give you that, but in this game they often have a sudden scary face jump at you on screen. It's very lazy and sub-par storytelling from a studio that knows — and has done — better. I can't help but think that making Saga such a badass superwoman made it feel like these jumpscares were necessary to build tension.

It doesn't help that the story itself is mostly filler and is dominated too much by Saga. Moreover, the ending is not very satisfying. With two expansions set to release, they likely hid the real ending to the story in them, forcing you to buy them to truly finish the game. 

By the way, to finish the game you have to go through a song and dance segment. 

That is not a joke. 

ESG adherence had made Alan Wake II a massive disappointment. It feels like there was something great there that was horribly diminished, like a person in the last stages of a fight with cancer. 

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Remedy has the potential to do better. It has done better. It's not a studio that lacks creative vision, so it's so disappointing to see such a dearth of creativity in one of its most anticipated titles. 

I can't recommend this game. Moreover, I urge anyone to stay away from any game Sweet Baby Inc. has touched. 

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