Alan Wake II Gets Glowing Reviews

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AV_Gamer

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#1  Edited By AV_Gamer

https://www.metacritic.com/game/alan-wake-ii/

Just when you thought this great year of video games was finally coming to an end, Alan Wake II comes out to glowing reviews, getting a perfect 10 on Gamespot for example.

Could this truly be the best year for video games in the history of video games?

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ALLTheDinos

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I’ve personally been underwhelmed by this year relative to the hype, but Alan Wake 2 has been a hit every time it’s appeared in a showcase or expo. The fact that it’s the more well-known sources giving it 10/10s or 5 stars (instead of the places I’ve never heard of) makes me wonder if this is the first deserving 10/10 this year. It looks extremely up my alley and I can’t wait to crack it open. Can’t wait to see what live action craziness they put in this one!

Only thing I’m tentative towards is the combat, particularly in light of how good that aspect of the RE4 remake felt. It’s going to be near impossible to discuss either game without comparing them, which feels unfair to both.

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bigsocrates

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#3 bigsocrates  Online

If it's Alan Wake wouldn't it be more appropriate to say it got shining reviews? Like a flashlight?

I'm not picking it up at launch because I have way too many games to chew through right now and I have very mixed feelings about the first one (which admittedly is so old at this point it might not be a useful reference) but I'll probably play it at some point so I'm glad it's good.

As for this being the greatest year for video games ever...that's impossible to quantify, especially right now. There have been some truly great games and relatively few disappointments, but also relatively few out of nowhere superhits. The indie scene hasn't had a lot of games explode this year unless you count Baldur's Gate 3. Maybe Sea of Stars too? Cocoon? Dave the Diver and Pizza Tower both made a splash I guess, but not an explosive one.

I'd also argue there hasn't been one game that truly blew people away unless, again, you count BG3, but since that was Early Access it was less of a surprise. This has been a year of a lot of anticipated really good games hitting their marks, which is great in and of itself.

Best year ever is always going to be subjective, but it's very good that a variety of games for a variety of audiences are being well received and enjoyed. Of course you can contrast that with all the industry layoffs. Gaming seems in a good place creatively right now, but business wise things are seeming shaky.

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ALLTheDinos

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@bigsocrates: Not to derail the topic away from Alan Wake 2, but I’m in full agreement with you about indies. It really felt like there were more great games coming out of the space the last few years, at least to me. AAA games just don’t hit for me like a great indie does at this point in my life, which is probably why 2023 feels like a letdown personally.

Also while we’re suggesting alternative thread titles, may I put forth “Alan Wake 2 Held Deer By Many”?

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bigsocrates

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#5 bigsocrates  Online

@allthedinos: Have you tried two little hidden gems called Astrosmash and Shark! Shark!? If you played those amazing experiences it might turn your whole year around!

With RE4, Alan Wake, and Deadspace this has been a really resurgent year for survival horror, a genre that seemed, well, dead, a few years ago. I remember when people were excited for ZombiU because they were so starved for actual survival horror.

Just like with platformers and fighting games we've seen that while trends come and go very few genres actually die if they don't require you to buy plastic instruments.

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wollywoo

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#6  Edited By wollywoo

It's been a spectacular year for video games. I'm glad to hear this is good too! I have a lot of other things to play right now so I'll probably wait a while and see if it comes to Game Pass.

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SethMode

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#7  Edited By SethMode

If it's Alan Wake wouldn't it be more appropriate to say it got shining reviews? Like a flashlight?

How long are we going to tolerate this kind of bannable behavior????

Kidding aside, I tried to replay the first one and found myself kind of hating it in a lot of ways (this is a game that I used to adore), so I'm glad to hear this one seems great. Both looking forward to trying it out and not needing another thing on my plate right now. I don't know if this is my greatest year ever, thanks to how nostalgia impacts that, but separated from it it is certainly a year of high quality releases that will stick with me. Particularly Nintendo's two big releases.

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CreepingDeath0

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Best year for video games? Best year for broken AAA releases, more like!

As for Alan Wake, I'm not surprised it's reviewing so well, Remedy always smashes it. I'd be really curious to see how the game sells though, releasing only digital on console and only on Epic on PC makes me think it'll be pretty underwhelming. Unfortunately, none of those platforms release figures so we can only speculate.

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AV_Gamer

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#10  Edited By AV_Gamer

I'm also going to hold off before I play Alan Wake II, and I'm someone who liked the original a lot, even though the game was just a Remedy based shooter with a flashlight and a horror backdrop. But it was a great backdrop, with great writing and a cool Twin Peaks vibe. My next major game is Super Mario Wonder, as I'm ready for another major 2D Mario game, especially if it seems like the sequel to World many were waiting for. Then I'll get on Spiderman 2. I still haven't gotten to Diablo IV or Final Fantasy XVI yet, but I'll likely play Alan Wake II before I come around to them. Diablo IV for example doesn't seem to be living up to the hype, but I think enough updates will make it great like Diablo III before it. And FFXVI, I'm just waiting for a good price drop.

As far as the question of about 2023, name any so called great years in gaming that didn't also have its bad or broken games with them. It's about the positive out weighting the negative and I think overall 2023 did this. I'm not saying for certain it's the best year, because its heavily opinion based, but I personally think its up there.

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Nodima

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Well, it's definitely very much a survival horror game.

The first couple hours of this game are pretty fantastic, though I was soured a bit by wandering in circles for what felt like an hour because I went full Brad and either missed a tutorial or just wasn't intuitive enough to realize the reason I couldn't pick up an object was I needed to hit it with my flashlight first.

But I'm also definitely gonna have to start the whole damn thing over in classic survival horror fashion because I was treating the game a bit linearly (the map system is kind of bunk even though it appears straightforward - weirdly, it was also easier to get around Control by memorization than by map) and apparently missed a bunch of ammo and health pickups...which means I've given the first boss fight three college tries and completely ran out of ammo each time. Looked up a guide and it seems like there's several phases to the fight, too...so unless the Story mode means "you don't need bullets", even changing to that for a spell won't help me here.

What a nostalgic feeling I haven't felt since, oh, 1998!

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ALLTheDinos

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I’ve only played a couple hours so far, but I’m really digging this game. Much more of a slow burn than I would expect from survival horror games at the outset, which has definitely helped ratchet up the intensity when things get scary. The Mind Place stuff is pretty basic so far but I enjoy using the case board and profiling.

The live action and collectibles have definitely not disappointed. I didn’t think anything could reach the heights of the Threshold Kids, but the Koskela Brothers ads are great.

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splodge

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#13  Edited By splodge

I am about 11 hours in. It is fucking incredible. The sheer balls of the story being what it is. The monsters are genuinely scary as in you feel like you could die during any encounter. Theres a good mix of wandering around and combat, tons of secret shit. Even your standard collectibles all feel like some kind of meta puzzle.

The only other two survival horror games I ever really enjoyed were Silent hill 2 and RE village. This is so far top of the list. IT really is something VERY unique.

Now, I do have some issues. Im playing on a series S, which actually looks pretty good, and not as many frame rate issues as I imagined. However, there are frequent little graphics issues and light bloom spots that kind of take me out of it sometimes. The most major performance issue I have though is straight up hard crashes. Game just nopes out from time to time. I played 7 hours yesterday and it happened three times. I have never lost a lot of progress, but at one point it was about 25 mins worth which was frustrating. I am writing this in downtime after a crash a few minutes ago.

The level design can also be tough to deal with. The first "boss" as such, I died so much because it was entirely unclear which loose and light foliage I could walk through and which I couldnt. The areas are also quite sprawling and when you have to backtrack either for story reasons or to mop up loose ends, it can be a little daunting.

I have also noticed on occasion that I have completed tasks required to finish story missions before I even have the mission to begin with. This results in Saga saying something bizarre , as the game thinks I have already gotten to that part. It has only happened a couple of times but its frustrating because i panic and think I have missed some huge chunk of the story. I have actually had to google it to be sure I have not majorly fucked up. I find the case board can also behave this way too sometimes.

Overall though, having a blast these issues aside. Can't wait to see where it goes.

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Nodima

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#14  Edited By Nodima

I've got nothing at all against the combat, it feels as if they basically imported Resident Evil 2-2 into a Last of Us game, but I've also gotta say this is the third game this year where I'm so glad there's not much directly tied to difficulty level. I played Star Wars on Hard and Spider-Man on Super-Hard, and I'm playing this on Normal...until I hit a boss fight. Being that the combat is even less of a primary draw compared to those games I even feel really great about it. While a few of those games' bosses inspired me to figure them out, some of them just dragged on and on without much of the same implication of accomplishment the Souls games I've played offer.

After the second Saga boss I'm considering just sticking with Story difficulty for the rest of the game, because I just wanna keep moving and even then I died on my first attempt and finished with red all over my screen the second. So I do seem to suck at this game anyway. We'll see.

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NickMitch

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I don't even play survival horror games. I bought Alan Wake 2 yesterday. The hype is real.

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isomeri

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This is the best game I've played on this generation of consoles. I'm about 8 hours in and if they don't fumble the rest of the game I could see this going quite high on my mental list of all time favorites.

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@splodge said:

The first "boss" as such, I died so much because it was entirely unclear which loose and light foliage I could walk through and which I couldnt.

I watched the Nextlander stream of this game and yeah, this boss fight seems really rough. Vinny also kept having trouble telling where he could actually go and what actually worked on the boss. It seemed like such a bizarre spike in difficulty out of nowhere.

I've yet to play to play this game but I will at some point since I enjoy the story aspects of Remedy games and really dug the first couple hours of this from what I saw. Like Control and Alan Wake 1 though, I'll probably just end up playing it on the easiest possible settings. I've never enjoyed the combat in Remedy games. I've never found it fun and in many cases it felt like it was getting in the way of the better parts of the games. I do appreciate that Remedy doesn't lock anything behind difficulty or assists anymore so I'm not punished for wanting to play it on easier settings.

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#18 bigsocrates  Online

@ben_h: Yeah. Nothin was worse in Quantum Break than when they forced me to play a video game just to get to the next riveting TV show episode that I totally remember something from!

All kidding aside, Quantum Break had good gameplay (though not great) and the people who hated it like Jeff mostly tried to play it as a cover shooter instead of an in your face Mass Effect Vanguard zip around power fantasy. That was a game that got bashed a lot for being an Xbox exclusive when it was pretty good. The TV show was...not. Even though I totally remember multiple things from it. For sure!

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Nodima

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#20  Edited By Nodima

Edit: Before basically just repeating myself to echo later comments, I do want to mention that I love how thoughtful the back end of the game's pacing seems to be. Without saying much about why, a lot of the Parts in each Chapter quickly become more and more like pageturner-style writing, with some of them ending almost as soon as you start them. Some of the levels are also really mindful of what's already gone on there, and unlike some other Remedy games, or really most action games like this, they don't always try to shove more combat into an area or story beat that doesn't really require it.

As outlandish and Going for It as much of this game is, a lot of that stuff works as well as it does in part because the game also shows remarkable restraint. It's some truly confident art we're dealing with here.

I thought Control was awesome all the way through and played it on a harder difficulty. The only boss that gave me ulcers was Tomassi, the flying witch man you could meet pretty early on in the game but was notoriously difficult to beat even with a fully leveled, endgame Jesse.

And like I said before, in regular gameplay this game basically feels just like Resident Evil 2. Hell, the inventory menu is a direct design reference. But the boss design doesn't get much more forgiving - playing on Story, I died the first time I fought each of Saga's subsequent bosses because they still tank like crazy and just take you out in 4 or 5 hits instead of 2 or 3.

There's something off in the balance between getting hurt and healing, they always seem to encroach on your retreat just as the heal animation is finishing, and they've all got ways of hurting you when you aren't looking that can be quite relentless (particularly the Coffee World boss, which basically takes everything about the Nightingale fight and amplifies it).

Likewise, I'm not sure if I'm just too impatient to learn the stealth mechanics, whatever they may be, or if the apparitions' warp abilities make me uncurious in spending most of this game with a tail on me, but again even with a fully leveled up flashlight and revolver by the end of most levels Alan feels dangerously close to being out of charges, which obviously is part of the game design but feels incongruous with the idea of "Story" and makes me wonder how it'd feel on Normal where you probably can't zap literally everything.

I'm sure many, many people are gonna love this game's combat all the way through, but now that I'm pretty near the end of the game I think (chapter 7 for Alan, 6 or 7 for Saga) I just can't see how anybody would want the action portion of this game to even threaten getting in the way of narrative progress. It feels 10% too harsh, the way kicking the newer God of Wars up a notch can instantly phase the game out of a moderately challenging power fantasy into a getting-your-ass-kicked seminar.

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mellotronrules

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#21  Edited By mellotronrules

question for those that are enjoying what they've played thus far-

what's the tonal balance between Remedy/Lynchian quirky self-reflexive vibes to straight horror? and do the game's ideas transcend the aesthetic choices?

or put in less self-important terms- is Alan Wake 2 the sort of thing that all fans of new game experiences should check out- or is it just an expertly executed Remedy horror game?

reason for asking- i don't really enjoy getting spooked for the sake of spooks, and although i like Twin Peaks i'm not really looking for another homage. i also don't love procedurals or tortured artist narratives- HOWEVER i really enjoyed CONTROL, and i think i'm generally a fan of Remedy's approach. just trying to gauge if the juice is worth the squeeze for me.

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splodge

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#22  Edited By splodge

@mellotronrules: I would say that the story and writing is so self confident and absolutely unapologetic in how much they go for it, it would genuinely be a shame not to play this game if you like seeing and experiencing either of those things done really well, in any setting. It is in my mind, for lack of a less cringey comparison, "prestige TV". It oozes skill end expense.

In relation to the twin peaks-Ness of the whole thing, the comparisons are sometimes very deliberate (shot for shot in some cases) but I have not found it grating. It's really very clearly out of love. And it is wrapped with a film of remedy goofing that reminds me of twin peaks in the best way, like those times when it would be silly and laughing with the audience and then in the next moment dealing with a brutal side effect of a murdered family member, and while you should probably resent the transition, you don't, because it's just done so damn well.

There is also no other game I can think of that blends FMV and gameplay like this. It is really masterful at times, I am having jaw drop moments regularly.

There are some "jump scares", random flashing screaming faces, but they are relevant in a way, and sometimes there to transition you from exploration mode into combat mode. To kind of wake you up and get you ready for combat. I have definitely jumped a few times, but they don't outstay their welcome.

The spookiness is all atmosphere and tension, build up and suspense.

I'm gushing a bit now but damn it's just good. 17 hours in today and it's my GOTY.

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Nodima

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#23  Edited By Nodima

As a total "please don't scare me bro", I'd say the horror is generally at a Resident Evil level. It's mostly driven by lighting, level design, art direction and sound while the game itself is more of an exploration/action game. The Last of Us is another comparison I've probably already made in this thread, in that the game can be quite tense at times but the game itself is built around you stamping out that tension, not bathing in it like a straight up horror game.

It's got some wall-busting jump scares, and I'll admit the FMV jumps splodge mentioned get me every damn time (sometimes I take the headphones off for an hour or so just to add a layer of remove) but especially if you decide to play on Story difficulty like me there's not much to be afraid of. Because I'm a total wimp that doesn't mean I'm not still wrecking the shit out of my shoulder muscles from tension, especially in the Wake sections (the character skill sets are sort of an Ellie/Abby scenario, where Anderson is a trained combatant and Wake is scrambling around ghosts making due with what he's got)

But again, like a RE2 or 4, it's way more about my mental hurdles than the gameplay. And the Wake story also rewards all that tension with all the Remedy jazz you want, whereas Saga's side is more straightforward. So even if you find yourself dreading a Wake level, you also never know when it's going to blindside you with something completely left field. Which goes back to my most recent post, this game is a genuine pinnacle of pacing in games, in that the levels get more focused alongside the story but they also seem aware that fans of Control (or just big story-focused third person action games in general) are only gonna tolerate so much terror before they need a release.

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splodge

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#24  Edited By splodge

@nodima: agreed, one of the things I think I love so much about this game is that they genuinely want you to have pleasant moments of down time just moving around an environment and taking in the sights and having sometimes very funny conversations with people. You don't have to be scared ALL the time. When you're in it, you're in it, but in between you can relax fully.

Thats what makes the ratcheting up of tension so effective. You have to mentally take stock and prepare yourself to dive back into the nightmare. At times you might be exploring an area, having nice conversations with funny weirdos, and in the back of your mind you are thinking at some point this place is going to be realllllllll fucked up.

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Nodima

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#25  Edited By Nodima

Now that I finished and have been digging into some behind the scenes stuff, one of the more stunning accomplishments of this game is how seamlessly they integrated the original voice actor (Darling from Control) into all the FMV footage.

If I hadn’t known that tidbit from post-Control curiosity, or ever heard the actor who plays Wake speak, I’d never suspect that 100% of the filmed Wake scenes were entirely ADR synced to his performance. Eventually I presumed the two actors simply had mastered a similar tone and cadence, but it’s all one face paired with another voice the whole way through.

Of course, games have been pairing voice actors to facial models for a generation or more at this point, but adding the soundstage ADR element to it significantly raises the stakes as this has always been one of the most immediately obvious post-production edits throughout film history and here it’s absolutely seamless.

What shines an even brighter light on how bold that is is that (while it also adds to the mystery of the story) Sam Lake and … sorry, don’t want to open a new tab on my phone … Max Payne aren’t ever matched like that. Even if they have the technology or expertise to pull it off…I can’t imagine it being anywhere near as invisible as the Wake magic.

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mellotronrules

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@nodima: @splodge:

thanks gang! much appreciate you expounding a bit on it. i think i will end up checking it out!

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#27  Edited By jdomol

This is one of the best years in the history of video games, BUT there have been some deflating moments for otherwise good games. Poor PC ports across the board (except for RE4make), Mortal Kombat 1 being unfinished and microtransaction heavy, etc.

As it pertains to Alan Wake II, it has a notable lack of polish. I have to restart the game once per boot in order for the audio to function. And I've noticed at least one spelling error amongst the smaller bugs I've encountered (mouth movement in cutscenes is way off).

Super Mario Wonder and Resident Evil 4 have truly been the two most polished games this year. But there have been enough massive releases to overcome the low points.

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splodge

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I have been getting more and more pissed off with crashes on the series s. It's really frustrating because I love this game so god damned much. I'm maybe about 18 hrs in and casey and another character just had a kind of throwaway moment together and I laughed so fucking hard. God I love this game. I just wish it wasn't crashing now every 45 mins - 2 hrs

I really hope they figure this out

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ALLTheDinos

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@splodge: Yeah, the Series X version gives me trouble at a rate I’m not used to. I feel like I run into the infamous audio issue the first time I play in a given night, and thanks to keeping volume relatively low with kids asleep, it takes me a bit to notice. The sooner the Xbox version gets patched, the better.

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splodge

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I have finished the game. The last four hours or so was extremely frustrating as the game crashed every 30 - 60 minutes, had to step away a few times before I put my xbox out the window.

So a big shame about the performance issues on Series S, but , all that aside..

PHENOMENAL FUCKING VIDEO GAME

Really looking forward to new game +

And some day... some day we will hopefully get a Control 2

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ll_Exile_ll

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@splodge: Control 2 was officially announced late last year. I believe they recently said it's still in early development, but will be getting more focus now that Alan Wake 2 has been released.

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splodge

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@splodge: Control 2 was officially announced late last year. I believe they recently said it's still in early development, but will be getting more focus now that Alan Wake 2 has been released.

Hot coffee!

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glots

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Finished this last week after 25 hours and it definitely has a spot in my top five, even if my top ten is already bursting at the seams.

I really liked Control and Max Payne 1&2 are some of my all-time favorites, but Alan Wake took me a lot of tries to get into (and even then I still didn’t love it) and I never played Quantum Break, so I had some reservations about AW2. Even though the combat didn’t fully click with me, the game as a whole met my expectations and then some. Really can’t wait for the DLC and I might even do NG+ before that.