Alan Wake 2: Night Springs Review – A Trippy Journey Into the Unknown

    Three episodes worth of fun, terror, and intrigue.

    Alan Wake 2 is a game that has lived rent-free in my mind since I first played it. It managed to both scare and interest me at the same time, with it’s horrifying atmosphere, compelling story, and fantastic characters. While the gameplay at times left something to be desired, in the months since I reviewed it, I have replayed Alan Wake 2 several times just so I could uncover all of its secrets. I even went back to play all of the games from Remedy’s past, allowing me to appreciate all the work that the company has put into its craft over the last two decades.

    Unfortunately, Alan Wake 2 ends on a cliffhanger. Who knows how long it’ll be before we see a continuation of its story? Thankfully, like Control before it, Alan Wake 2 will receive two post-launch DLC expansions. One of them will be Lake House, which is set to release later this year. The other is Night Springs, which Remedy released just a few days ago.

    Both DLCs are included with the $20 expansion pass for Alan Wake 2 or available for those who purchase the $80 deluxe edition. Night Springs, the first DLC released for the game, is an approximately three-hour experience that takes players through three “episodes.” Each features a new playable protagonist, an original story, and new lore implications for the world of Alan Wake 2. After playing all three episodes, my faith in Remedy Entertainment is renewed, and I am more excited than ever to see what the future of Alan Wake 2 holds.

    What is Night Springs?

    Warlin Door in AW2

    Remedy initially introduced the idea of Night Springs as a fictional TV show in the first Alan Wake. The “series” functions similarly to The Twilight Zone in that it serves as an alternate reality perspective on the characters of Remedy’s connected universe. The name of the titular town, Night Springs, is a play on the main setting for the Alan Wake games, Bright Falls. The series is referenced in both Quantum Break and Control.

    After the original Alan Wake, Remedy released Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, a spin-off where Alan Wake himself is in an episode of Night Springs. Alan Wake 2‘s Night Springs DLC serves as a spiritual successor to that original spin-off, adopting much of the same gameplay principles, story beats, and tone. The series is narrated by Warlin Door, a mysterious character who returns from Alan Wake 2.

    Each episode of Night Springs is its own story, and the characters you play are familiar to those who have played Remedy’s prior games. However, the situations they are trapped in are not. The DLC contains several intriguing implications for the universe of Alan Wake 2 and is an overall exciting experience for fans and newcomers alike. In order to further explain this, though, we must start with the first episode of Night Springs: Number One Fan.

    Episode 1: Number One Fan

    AW2 Number One Fan

    Number One Fan is the most tonally and mechanically similar to Alan Wake’s American Nightmare. We play as Rose, a character introduced in the first Alan Wake who returned in Alan Wake 2. She’s a waitress at the Oh Deer Diner who has an uncomfortable obsession with Alan Wake: his style, personality, and writings. In Number One Fan, that personality remains intact, as she opens with a narration of how she loves Wake more than anything and will do whatever it takes to protect him.

    The town’s inhabitants believe her to be the queen of the world, as she’s apparently gotten several awards for best fan site, is the owner of the Oh Deer Diner, and is supposedly Alan Wake’s girlfriend. Although, there is trouble in paradise: Alan Wake is in danger! His evil twin brother is unleashing an armor of haters upon him, and they are all armed and dangerous. it is up to Rose to save the love of her life with courage, kindness, and a shotgun.

    Number One Fan is an exercise in absurdity. Navigating Night Springs with rose-colored glasses in comparison to the dark environment of Bright Falls in Alan Wake 2 is a treat. Further, the writing of the episode is brilliant. There were several moments where I couldn’t help but laugh at the comedy of each story beat. For example, meta-commentary, like Rose saying that all she needs is “an unlimited supply of black coffee and crippling emotional trauma” to save her love is abundant and frequently got a chuckle out of me.

    The gameplay is great, too. Like American Nightmare, Number One Fan drops the intense and suspenseful gameplay of Alan Wake 2 in favor of a more action-oriented style. Players are armed with a fully automatic shotgun and bolt-action rifle, both of which have ammo that goes into the hundreds. It’s a thrilling yet perverse power fantasy: there were a few times when I held the right trigger down and could do nothing but gasp at how unbelievably overpowered Rose was.

    All in all, Number One Fan is a great opening to the DLC and a fantastic way to ease players into the tonal shift that begins with the very next episode: North Star.

    Episode 2: North Star

    Alan Wake 2 North Star

    North Star immediately begins with a surprise. Rather than playing as a character from Alan Wake 2, you instead play as Jesse Faden, the protagonist of Control. Dubbed “the Sibling,” Jesse must venture into Night Springs’ signature amusement park, Coffee World, in order to find her brother Dylan, who has been kidnapped by a mysterious government agency. Those familiar with Remedy may feel a sense of déjà vu with this premise, as it is eerily similar to Control.

    Rather than Jesse finding her way to the Federal Bureau of Control and their base, the Oldest House, she is instead stuck in a coffee-themed amusement park filled with corrupted denizens who are obsessed with the beverage. They frequently ask Jesse to “become coffee” and spout nonsense about the medicinal properties of caffeine. The Sibling must navigate her way through the terrors of Coffee World with her mysterious alien ally, Polaris. Along the way, she must avoid being corrupted and “becoming coffee” as she endeavors to find her long-lost brother.

    North Star returns Alan Wake 2 to its survival horror roots, arming Jesse with a pistol and flashlight. However, unlike Alan, Jesse’s pistol is fully automatic, allowing her to quickly rip her enemies to shreds. Additionally, the base game’s horror returns, as Coffee World is submerged in a thick level of darkness and shadows. Enemies hid around every corner, and there were several points where I wasn’t sure if I saw an ordinary shadow or one of Coffee World’s many psychotic denizens.

    The story is also great. North Star is almost like a parody of Control, with the same story structure and core conflict at the heart of it. Unlike Control and its Hiss enemies, Jesse must fight “coffee zombies.” Along the way, she also encounters Sheriff Tim Breaker from Alan Wake 2, making for an interesting dynamic. North Star manages to balance that line of absurd and terrifying, as Jesse’s struggles to avoid becoming coffee are both amusing and weirdly unsettling.

    I did feel that North Star is the shortest of the three episodes and doesn’t do as much for the broader universe of Alan Wake 2 or Control. That said, even though it’s arguably the least interesting episode of the three, I still had a great time with it. This brings me to Alan Wake 2: Night Springs‘ final episode: Time Breaker.

    Episode 3: Time Breaker

    Alan Wake 2 Time Breaker

    While North Star is arguably the least interesting episode of Night Springs, Time Breaker is undoubtedly the best. Immediately, the premise feels unique, compelling, and undeniably meta. You play as Shawn Ashmore, the real-life actor who plays Sheriff Tim Breaker in Alan Wake 2 (as well as Iceman in the X-Men movies, a role that is the subject of a few jokes within the episode). Ashmore is playing a new character for Poison Pill Entertainment, a play on words referencing Remedy Entertainment. We even see Sam Lake, the lead writer for most of Remedy’s games, in the flesh!

    Ashmore is learning his lines for his character when he finds a body in his room that looks eerily similar to himself. After meeting a character who looks eerily similar to Jesse Faden from Control, Ashmore is sent across the multiverse in order to stop the Master of Many Worlds: Warlin Door. As he does, he encounters several different dimensions with unique art styles based on black-and-white films, comic books, and more.

    While the gameplay of Time Breaker is nothing to write home about, the story, level design, references, and detail more than make up for it. Each universe that Ashmore travels to feels unique, and you can just feel the love that Remedy puts into each area. For example, the comic dimension features no gameplay. Instead, it includes art reminiscent of an actual comic book. The reason for this is that an actual comic artist (Christian Ward, who previously worked on Batman: City of Madness) designed the panels.

    The story also carries deep implications for not just Alan Wake 2 but the future of the entire Remedy universe. Further, there were also some surprising references to not just Alan Wake and Control, but Quantum Break, too, an obscure Xbox One game from Remedy that I thought would never be mentioned or brought up again in any meaningful form. The reference hits even harder for those who played that game, as Shawn Ashmore and the actress behind Jesse Faden, Courtney Hope, both starred in Quantum Break.

    There are plenty of other great moments throughout Time Breaker, but quite frankly, I refuse to spoil it any further. The final episode serves as a great capstone for Alan Wake 2‘s brilliant first DLC expansion.

    The Future is Bright

    Sam Lake in Alan Wake 2/Time Breaker

    If the quality of Night Springs is indicative of Alan Wake 2‘s future, then bring it on. The game’s first DLC is a promising start with three episodes worth of exciting gameplay, compelling stories, and fun references for those who have enjoyed Remedy’s previous games.

    Further, the effort invested into Night Springs‘ style and the way it feels like an entirely new experience is impressive. The introduction of photo mode and a new theme song based on the “series” add so much personality to Night Springs. Even though the DLC is a bit short for twenty dollars, I never felt like my money was wasted. If anything, after just a few hours, I fully believe that Night Springs easily outshines Remedy’s previous DLC efforts in Control.

    It also reminded me why I love Remedy in the first place. Their writing style and capacity to build a compelling universe have stood the test of time since Max Payne released in 2001, and Night Springs captures that spirit with pride. After watching the credits roll for the DLC, I wanted to go right back in and play again.

    With Remedy Entertainment set to release Alan Wake 2‘s second DLC, Lake House, and its two physical editions later this year, I can say with full confidence that Remedy’s future is undoubtedly bright. I am eager to see what the company has planned for the universe of Alan Wake and their other games in the coming months and years.


    If Night Springs is indicative of the quality that can be expected for Alan Wake 2's future DLC expansions, then the future is undoubtedly bright. While the DLC is a bit short, running for approximately three hours, each episode of the TV show-themed DLC is unique and feels like an entirely separate game. The effort put into Night Springs alone makes it more than worth purchasing Alan Wake 2's twenty-dollar season pass.
    Saras Rajpal
    Saras Rajpal
    Saras is a passionate creative writer, with a love for immersive sims, superhero games, and Persona. He is currently writing a thesis about Persona 5 and is pursuing a career as a full-time writer.

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    If Night Springs is indicative of the quality that can be expected for Alan Wake 2's future DLC expansions, then the future is undoubtedly bright. While the DLC is a bit short, running for approximately three hours, each episode of the TV show-themed DLC is unique and feels like an entirely separate game. The effort put into Night Springs alone makes it more than worth purchasing Alan Wake 2's twenty-dollar season pass. Alan Wake 2: Night Springs Review - A Trippy Journey Into the Unknown