The hours ticked by until the Alan Wake 2 end. Determined to complete the story, I put in serious time. Alan Wake 2 is the sequel that the first Alan Wake deserved. They nailed the graphics, story and gameplay. It was a great ride and I’m happy it appears it’s only the beginning of things to come.
Investigating Alan Wake 2 Mysteries
I spent most of the early game playing through Saga’s investigations. Placing cards on the Case Board really is one of the great parts of the game. I picked up a surprising number of different cases beyond the main story. I probably spent too many hours looking for evidence around Alex Casey Lunchboxes, FBC Nursery Rhyme Experiments and Cult Stash Boxes.
Alex Casey Lunchboxes
Following the dream catcher trails and Easter eggs, I managed to find all of the lunchboxes in Cauldron Lake, Watery and Bright Falls. I normally don’t bother with all the collection type missions, but that Case Board is addicting. The torn pages inside the lunchboxes also serve as weapon upgrade currency.
I have no regrets chasing those all down to basically turn my handgun to full auto. Other upgrades were helpful, but that is the one I remember most. It’s interesting how those ripped pages are assembled into part of the story to explain why the weapon works different. Great tie in.
Unfortunately, a bug prevented me from collecting the last piece of evidence. I talked to the person I was supposed to and chose correct dialog options, but the card didn’t end up available for my board. Still I had enough to “Close” the case.
Nursery Rhyme Experiments
I remember finding the first experiment setup. Camera and sensor equipment pointed at a set of kid’s drawings with a nursery rhyme. I’m not ashamed to say I “solved” plenty of them using trial and error. Sometimes there was simply a resulting trail for me to follow, but other times the monster from the rhyme comes true.
The reward at the end of that trail was a charm for Saga’s bracelets. Most were useful buffs, but I loved the Mug ones for their “extra life” effect. The tie into the FBC from Remedy’s other game, Control, I loved also. It’s that same sort of weird Sci Fi silliness from that game.
It was very satisfying to find and solve them all. The big payoff at the end was knowing the scientist hoping to see if something bad happened to me after solving them all, got his instead.
Cult Stash Boxes
Probably my favorite of all the collectibles were the Cult Stash Boxes. The weapons, ammo and increased inventory were nice rewards, but the fun was the puzzles. The locks varied between combinations, keyed and light patterns. Some were super easy, but others required smarts, or at least I felt smart solving them.
I chased down keys based on clues or solved brain teasers to figure out combination locks. The variety of ways to get codes and keys was a refreshing challenge. I loved them. The ultimate prize of finding plans for the Cults super weapon has me hoping they revisit that in future DLC
Later on in the game, I spent a bit more equal time between Saga’s missions and Alan Wake’s. The Dark Place included it’s own set of collectibles. I hunted down all the Words of Power, Echoes and almost all the Suitcases. The latter was just additional ammo, flashbangs or flares.
My search was much easier with the helpful Deputy’s map with all the locations, but I still struggled to find a few that were confusing to determine at which level of the map they were actually on.
Words of Power
Even with the Deputy’s map, some of these words were tricky to locate due to ever varying heights they were placed. It was absolutely worth looking for them as they were Alan’s source for weapon and inventory upgrades. Some were more useful than others, but I didn’t want to miss a chance to make life easier for me.
Aligning orbs of light with the dark in a few locations revealed more of the story revolving around the Dark Place. I don’t remember exactly, but I think few of those echoes did serve as inspiration for new story beats to change things up. The story continued to interest me, so I hunted all the echoes down.
Alan Wake 2 Maybe Game of the Year
After spending all those hours on collectibles, I finally jumped back to the main story. I’d stopped to finish all that stuff up when I reached Saga’s point of no return. Ready to head into the home stretch, I reflected on all the memorable places I visited. Coffee World stuck out the most. Something about fighting the “Taken” amongst the backdrop of amusement park rides and lights.
For those that played the first Alan Wake game, it’s good news there’s another concert fight fest in Alan Wake 2. First two tries annoyed me, but the third time was a charm. It was after that point the game forced me to finish up Alan’s Dark Place missions.
It was great to know the choice between whose missions to complete first didn’t prevent me from completing all their missions. Leading up to release, I wasn’t sure if this system would require me to play again to see everything. With the giant backlog I have for other games, I’m glad that was not the case.
All the murder scenes and twisting scenes were a great alternative to Saga’s investigations. It was a like a better version of Stranger Thing’s upside down.
Answer Questions and Closing Cases
For a game that started with investigations, my journey to the end finally answered some of those questions. Like, what is the evil presence aka Scratch, really? Who’s helping Saga with the Alex Casey Lunchboxes? Who are the Cult of the Tree members? Is Saga’s daughter alive or dead? What happened to Alan’s wife? What really happened to his wife? Does he even have a wife?
By the end, all those question have a definitive answer, at least for now. The mildly frustrating thing is there are question that don’t have answers, at least not until the first DLC drops. After chasing down all that evidence to solve various cases, it surprised me there were still some cards stuck in the “For Later” state. DLC it is then.
Those unanswered questions are a bit annoying after going OCD for evidence, but all but guarantee I’ll buy the DLCs. The only other complaint I have is no working vehicles. The first Alan Wake included a section where I could drive vehicles.
I loved using headlights to weaken the Taken before crushing them with the hood of a car. Maybe a future DLC will check that box for me, but for now, the cars are only a stationary location to pick what other location you want to travel to from a menu (cue the cutscene).
Remedy nailed the combination of top tier graphics, art style, story telling and unique gameplay. Starfield is still my pick for Game of the Year, but Alan Wake 2 as GOTY seems much more likely. Remedy deserves it, the game is something very special.
The more focused story and impressive graphics should edge it above Baldur’s Gate 3 this year. BG3 has more depth and choices, no doubt, but I imagine Alan Wake 2 is easier for the mainstream gamers to grasp. I have zero doubts it will win multiple awards and this really is a must play. Until there’s new DLC though, it’s back to Starfield for me.