It Rules That There Isn’t A Boss Fight At The End Of Alan Wake 2

This article contains spoilers for Alan Wake 2.


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Alan Wake 2 is a wonderful video game about video games — and basically every other kind of art, too. Remedy’s long-gestating survival horror sequel incorporates music, photography, filmmaking, and many more art forms into its layered ode to creativity. But as self-aware as Remedy seems to be about the nature of games, that isn’t enough to prevent it from falling into some common pitfalls. The boss battles, for example, require an irritating amount of trial-and-error and, whether you’re playing as Saga or Alan, your character goes down after just a few hits.

None took me too long but I found them all frustrating. In the confrontation with Mulligan and Thornton, two deputies turned Taken, the game autosaved when I had low health and little to help the situation my inventory. The fight involves dueling with the bigger boss on the ground, while the smaller cop shoots at you from a ridge surrounding the arena. They can take you out in just a few hits, and there are two of them attacking you at the same time. It feels like the survival horror equivalent of a bullethell as you attempt to navigate the clearing in the dark with only a narrow beam of light to guide your way.

Saga Anderson shining a flashlight at an approaching Taken ennem

It’s tough, and it’s in keeping with the way the game handles other boss fights. Though Alan Wake 2 seems much more focused on getting you to think deeply about its story (and story in general), its main combat encounters are focused on testing your reflexes. And, failing that, forcing you to do the same things again and again until you learn the repetitive pattern you need to follow.

This came to a head for me in the game’s final big fight, a one-on-one confrontation between Saga and Mr. Scratch. Saga needs to use the Clicker to change the story, but before she can do that, she needs to imprison Scratch. This requires luring the manifestation of evil into a glass box, then shining bright lights at him to hold him in place. Before you can do that, though, you need to rotate two flood lights until they face the crate, then move to the box.

It’s easy to explain now that I’ve done it. But, in practice, it took me some time to figure out what exactly the game wanted me to do. I figured out within the first run that I needed to rotate the lights, but I didn’t realize until much later on that the light fixtures would click into place once you had them rotated all the way. I turned them until they were pointing at the box and assumed that was good, but they actually need to be pushed until you hit the right spot, at which point Saga will step away. That trial and error becomes frustrating when you have Mr. Scratch bearing down and doing serious damage whenever he gets his hands on you. It’s probably the toughest fight in the game. In the aftermath, I felt relieved but was dreading what horror Remedy had cooked up for the game’s final boss encounter.

Thankfully, there wasn’t one. Though the inclusion of boss battles at all feels a little out of step with what the game does well, I give Remedy props for knowing that difficult combat isn’t why most players are playing and it isn’t what most players want from the conclusion. Instead, the ending focuses on the FMV versions of Wake and Saga figuring out how to fix the story and taking drastic action to do so. Then, in a post-credits scene, coming to the realization that “it’s not a loop, it’s a spiral” which directly feeds into the new game plus, Final Draft.

I immediately hopped into a second playthrough after the credits rolled, and I wanted to because the game hadn’t left me feeling exhausted by its combat. It left me feeling exhilarated by its ideas.

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