Alan Wake Remastered

For my money, Remedy Entertainment is one of the best game developers around — if not the best. I have loved every game they have released since the original Max Payne.

Well, almost. I did not love the Remedy underdog, Quantum Break, which I did just recently finally get around to playing for the first time. The pieces just failed to line up for me and there was just far too much linear shooting for my tastes, something that would be perfected in the unquestionable masterpiece follow-up release, Control.

So when it was announced that Alan Wake — one of my favorite action games of all time — was getting remastered, I was over the moon. Once I got my hands on the PS5 version, I was quickly reminded how, shall we say, “flawed” Alan is as a character. But even then, Alan Wake Remastered still went on to be one of my favorite games of 2021. And coupled with the announcement of a long-awaited sequel, the aptly titled Alan Wake II, it felt like the lights were back on in the Alan Wake house.

But alas, as mentioned in a Stock Exchange Release from Remedy back in May of this year, Alan Wake Remastered has thus far failed to generate any royalty revenue for Remedy, and in fact has even failed to recoup Epic’s investment in development and marketing costs. Which… oof.

Alan Wake Remastered

It’s hard to say exactly what happened in this case, though I can offer some speculation.

Even though Alan Wake Remastered was, in my humble opinion, a fantastic remaster of an already fantastic game, that could in and of itself be some of the reason why it failed to click with contemporary gaming enthusiasts. This remaster was solely a visual overhaul, and a crackerjack overhaul at that. But the developers were unable to make any tweaks to the core gameplay, or to alter the story in any new or fresh ways (not that the story needs any alterations, mind you). In the current climate, I feel like visual remasters are far less desirable that feature-heavy remakes. I mean, look at the flack The Last of Us Part 1 is getting (although a lot of that is fervor over the steep MSRP).

But aside from the actual remaster itself, having Epic publish this might have been a nail in the coffin. There is still a ton of vitriol for the house that Fortnight built after its bullish entry into the PC storefront and launcher space; going head to head with Steam for dominance by throwing around all that money made from Fortnight skins in order to aggressively secure publishing rights and PC exclusivity. Locking the PC version of Alan Wake Remastered to their storefront probably didn’t do the game any favors.

But there is also the fact that, when it comes to the original game on Xbox 360, the core gameplay still holds up. I mean, the fact that the remaster was solely a graphical update pretty much bears this out. So if the core game still holds up, and you don’t care about a shiny new coat of paint, there really is no need to buy a remaster. I mean hell, I bought the PS5 version of Alan Wake Remastered, but the original 360 version is currently sitting on my Series S’s hard drive because I still returned to that version quite often before the remaster came out.

Alan Wake - Alice

And look, I think there is also something to be said about what types of games the masses are looking for these days. Having a challenging protagonist set in a story that asks the player to do some heavy lifting compared to other more contemporary juggernauts (which require very little brain function to decode or enjoy), while also having a somewhat dated or creaky combat system just might’ve been too much for some people.

At the end of the day, I guess I’m not surprised, but I am still a little dismayed by this news. At its core, Alan Wake is a game that I think most people should at least try.

And who knows? There is a sequel on the horizon, so perhaps once that gets closer to release there will be more interest in the original, propelling the remaster to a late-realized success. This financial report, though, does lend a sense of caution for the upcoming Remedy and Rockstar Games partnership for remakes of the first two Max Payne games.

But I guess only time will tell how that all plays out.

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