There has been a lot of talk from Microsoft, particularly Phil Spencer, recently about how they want to build up the Xbox’s line-up of exclusives; Spencer has specifically mentioned Nintendo as an example of what they’re hoping to eventually be like. I think this is a fantastic direction for Microsoft to go in; the reason Nintendo has lasted so long is because of the amount of classic series they have and keep bringing to gamers. If Microsoft wants the Xbox to live as long as Nintendo they’ll need some more iconic franchises. Microsoft has already started down this path by investing in new IPs like ReCore, Sea of Thieves and Scalebound; however, Microsoft also has a decent sized library of IPs they can go back to and revive to make the Xbox stand out even more. Previously we discussed the potential returns of Banjo-Kazooie and Conker. This time we’re leaving the world of Rare to focus on one of the Xbox 360’s biggest cult classics, Alan Wake.
Alan Wake was a horror game released by Remedy Entertainment in 2010 only on the Xbox 360. It wasn’t immediately a big hit, but great word of mouth eventually gave the game a cult following and decent sales. The game was beloved for it’s unique story that was heavily inspired by The Twilight Zone and other shows like it; Alan Wake was split up into mini episodes each with it’s own recap of the events of the previous game. The game also features very unique gameplay where you must defeat your enemy using light sources, it’s very different and hasn’t been replicated by any other games. Alan Wake was a very different game that stood out from the crowd and that’s why gamers loved it.
Sadly, we haven’t seen a major iteration in the Alan Wake since a small downloadable sequel was released in 2012. Fans have been clamoring for a sequel to the beloved game for years, but Remedy has been busy at work on their latest game Quantum Break. Now what the company is working on is a mystery and many are hoping it’s the return of our flashlight wielding hero.
It does actually seem like Remedy is intending to revisit Alan Wake again as their next project. They’ve mentioned it a lot in the past year and Quantum Break is full of Alan Wake easter eggs, including a live action trailer that could possibly be for a sequel. The main question is if Microsoft will have anything to do with it; Remedy said that they pitched Alan Wake 2 to Microsoft and many other companies before shelving the game and going with Quantum Break. It is a bit worrying that Microsoft once passed on the game, as they could likely do it again but there’s hope they’ve changed their minds.
Xbox was under the control of Don Mattrick back when Remedy originally pitched Alan Wake 2, Mattrick wasn’t big on core games and likely only picked up Quantum Break due to the TV show that was attached to the game. However, Xbox is now under Phil Spencer who has shifted the brand’s focus onto core games. Spencer has stated before that he’d like to have one franchise per major genre, Microsoft currently doesn’t have any horror games in the pipeline so Alan Wake would fill that slot very nicely. The fact that the series has game play that’s unlike most other horror games would also help it and the Xbox One stand out if Microsoft were to fully get behind Alan Wake 2.
The game’s unique environment would also help it stand out. Most horror games take place in dingy cities or old European locations; the woods and mountains of northwest America were a breath of fresh air in the original Alan Wake and would still be one today. The graphics of Alan Wake still hold up today, but Remedy proved with Quantum Break that they’re a graphics powerhouse and they could blow people away with the potential beauty that Alan Wake 2 could have. Some of PlayStation’s biggest games prove that graphics sell and this could be a big factor in Alan Wake 2‘s potential.
One of the weaknesses of the Xbox’s lineup is that they don’t have any major franchises that have great stories; sure Halo and Gears of War have solid stories, but they don’t match up to Uncharted or The Last of Us but Alan Wake does. Alan Wake has the great characters and writing of Naughty Dog’s games but with the added bonus of a super interesting mystery that can be spread across multiple games, keeping gamers hooked to the series.
Luckily, Microsoft is showing signs of interest in the Alan Wake series. Every copy of Quantum Break comes with a backwards compatible copy of Alan Wake, even the Xbox One bundle that comes with Quantum Break; this added game even appears in Quantum‘s trailers and commercials. They’ve even made the original game’s DLC free, this could be a good way to get people who already own the game to revisit it and rediscover their love for it. I don’t think Microsoft would be doing this if they didn’t want to introduce new gamers to the series, perhaps before the announcement of a new game?
Out all of the games I’ve talked about in this series (and plan to talk about), Alan Wake has the biggest chance of returning. Everything is lining up perfectly in its favor, perhaps we’ll see the reveal at E3 2016? One can hope. In the mean time, keep the lights on and check out our review of Remedy’s latest game Quantum Break.