Alan Wake II’s Co-Lead Gave the Sequel Its Horror Edge, Says Remedy

Earlier in the week, Sony’s PlayStation showcase featured a variety of video games that are meant to release in the coming months (if not years). Among the big triple-A games featured was Remedy Entertainment’s Alan Wake II, which aims to go all in on survival horror in a deeper way than the original 2010 game. And part of that jump into the genre also involves introducing some new blood into the series.

Much of the newest trailer for Alan Wake II takes place from the perspective of FBI agent Saga Anderson. Played by This is Us’ Melanie Liburd, Saga is said by Remedy to have an importance to the game’s story equal to its titular character. In an interview with Gamespot, creative director Sam Lake affirmed that she’s the game’s co-protagonist, and said the inclusion of a second playable character was an important part of growth for the studio. “Creating a new protagonist is a big event and we take that very seriously,” he said. “Even though this is called Alan Wake II, this is just as much a Saga Anderson game. They are very much at the heart of the story—both of them.”

Alan Wake 2 – Gameplay Reveal Trailer | PS5 Games

Like other games with multiple protagonists (see The Last of Us Part II), players will alternate between playing Alan and Saga in the town of Bright Falls. (Or in Alan’s case, the Dark Place dimension that’s connected to it.) For Saga, her job as a criminal profiler brings her to town as she investigates a ritualistic murder, and part of her story will be uncovering her true purpose in Bright Falls. Cryptic as it sounds, Liburd promised her character’s appearance in the town would become clear almost right away. “[Saga] does need to be there,” she assured. “Alan needs Saga, and Saga needs Alan. And that is the main thing that fans will understand when they see her.”

“A big part of the ambition for Alan Wake II was that we should be more driven on a story-focused experience than we have ever been before,” Lake explained. For him, having these two characters allowed the studio to get “really, really ambitious” and really change up how it’s told stories in its previous games like the first Alan Wake or 2019’s Control. “We just wanted to take everything that we have learned and push it as far as we could imagine for this.”

By giving Saga equal prominence, Lake said her existence allowed for Alan Wake II’s story to have more tonal shifts it may not have otherwise. As it exists now, this version of the game with Saga is “the darkest version” of what Remedy has wanted to make. Remedy hopes to give Alan Wake II more of a horror bent than its predecessor: Saga gradually comes to understand how weird Bright Falls actually is while Alan works to escape the dimension he’s been trapped in for over a decade. Fans of the first Alan Wake have a soft spot for Alan that’s only grown over the years. Liburd said she understands how players become attached to these characters, and is ready to see how Saga’s regarded in the coming months. “It’s gonna be interesting,” she admitted. “I hope they really like Saga as much as we do.”

Alan Wake II will release on October 17 for PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S. You can read Gamespot’s interview in full for the how Remedy writes the characters in its games, and further insight from Lake and Liburd on Saga Anderson from a narrative and gameplay perspective.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.