Alan Wake Was Supposed to Be an Open-World Horror Epic

The recently discontinued horror game was originally designed to be something much bigger.

Last week, horror game fans everywhere were shocked to learn that the 2010 horror game Alan Wake will be removed from digital retailers due to the game’s expiring music rights. This makes Alan Wake one of the most successful games to be yanked from digital retail outlets due to licensing issues. 

Of course, this isn’t the only hardship that Alan Wake has faced since the project’s inception. In fact, the version of Alan Wake that you can no longer buy via Steam and other online outlets isn’t even the version of the game that Remedy initially intended to release. 

A new article by GamesRadar summarizes the history of Alan Wake‘s development and goes into detail regarding the project’s long-rumored roots as an open-world horror title. 

According to the game’s developers, Alan Wake was originally billed as a mix between Grand Theft Auto and Silent Hill. Remedy felt that the open-world genre hadn’t turned out a truly great horror game, and they were determined to show the world that a horror epic could still pack the intimate scares of a title like Silent Hill

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Unfortunately, the studio hit a fairly significant roadblock along the way. 

“It really came down to the storytelling,” said Alan Wake writer Mikko Rautalahti. “We make story-driven action games here at Remedy. And yeah, at one point, it was also supposed to be an open world game, with the free roaming, sandbox, and whatever other buzzwords you would care to throw in. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work for us. From a narrative point of view, it’s a very, very challenging game type, especially for a thriller.”

Rautalahti notes that the game’s open-world elements are still present in the final version’s larger levels and vehicular segments. As for the ambitious plans to include more daylight segments and a storyline set in New York City, those were scrapped entirely as the game’s development grew more costly and more problematic. 

But what about the long-rumored Alan Wake sequel? Could that theoretical follow-up find a way to make open-world horror in the Remedy style truly work? Rautalahti says that  “There will be more Alan Wake, if we have anything to say about it,” but Remedy has previously commented that development of Alan Wake 2 was canceled and that many of the ideas they intended to implement into the sequel became the basis for 2016’s Quantum Break

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