Alan Wake 2 Guide: 10 Tips for Surviving The Horror

It's dark out in the world of Alan Wake 2. Take these tips with you, if you want to survive.
alan wake 2 beginner's tips guide

Alan Wake 2 has finally arrived, after more than a decade since the original mystery thriller, which was filled with teases littered throughout Remedy Entertainment’s interconnected video game universe. As we wrote in our game review, it’s a masterful adventure that delicately balances strong narrative, character work, and survival horror. But to get to its most intriguing, eye-opening story beats, you’ll first need to conquer its combat, exploration, and Mind Place challenges, which can be overwhelming at first.

To enter the world of Alan Wake 2 with your best foot forward, there’s plenty of ways you can tackle the adventure. Whether you’re just starting out, or you’re looking for advice on how to continue your journey, read on for our best tips to survive the darkness in Alan Wake 2.

Read: Alan Wake 2 Review – Save The Writer, Save The World

Pick up every bullet, bandage, and battery you see

alan wake 2 game
Image: Remedy Entertainment

Alan Wake 2 is a difficult game, and you’ll typically have a very limited stock of bullets, bandages, and batteries. But in various locations, you’ll naturally stumble across ice boxes, medical supply boxes, tool chests, and file cabinets littered with helpful items. Search these often, and make sure you’ve always got ample stock of bullets and batteries before combat encounters.

On another note, you only have a limited inventory when you start the game, so you’ll want to prioritise picking up useful items like bandages and health packs. Arrows, flares and grenades can be handy in combat encounters, but if given the choice, grab those medical items first. They take up a lot of space, but they’ll typically prove more useful in the long run. Once your inventory grows, then consider picking up spare weapons and other ammunition.

When you’re stuck, consult the Mind Place

alan wake 2 mind place
Screenshot: GamesHub

There are various moments in Alan Wake 2 when you’ll feel incredibly stuck, and unable to proceed – because you’re relying on a particular piece of character dialogue, a goal to be completed, or a mystery to be solved. If you’ve explored every area around you, and don’t know how to continue your quest, the best thing to do is visit the Mind Place.

Here, as Saga, you’ll be able to catch up on narrative plot threads, build out a picture of your story, and come to understand exactly what you need to do. If you’ve placed all available clues on the board and you’re still stuck, try two things: first, search the real world for additional clues to put on the wall. If that doesn’t help, check out the Profiling table in the Mind Place. Typically, you’ll be able to make new connections here, and this can lead to your next story beats.

You should switch between Saga and Alan at your own whim

At a divergent point in Alan Wake 2, you’ll be given the option to play as either Alan or Saga, with both individual narratives being essential to the plot. You can play these chapters in any order, but the best way to get through them is to go with your gut.

Play a few chapters as Alan, and when it feels right, switch over to Saga. You may find yourself getting further ahead with Alan’s tale at first – as his middle chapters all feel interlinked and frantic – but don’t worry too much about this. Eventually, both tales will wind back together, after you’ve played through them all.

Puzzle solutions can usually be found nearby

alan wake gameplay review ps5
Image: Remedy Entertainment

Throughout Alan Wake 2, you’ll encounter a range of puzzles – with the most common being cult stash or lockbox combination challenges. While these aren’t strictly essential, they are very fun – and in some cases, getting the right combination can unlock a new weapon, or handy supplies.

If you’re stuck on a solution, search in nearby areas for clues. Often, you’ll find hints that can be teased out via the Mind Place, or even whole combinations just waiting for you to find them. Solutions aren’t usually that far away from the puzzles themselves, so don’t wander away too much if you’re keen to solve a particular puzzle. If you get really, really stuck, guesswork can also help out, too – but as a last resort, of course.

Stay patient with story threads

Alan Wake 2 is a far more ambitious game than its predecessor, with multiple plot strands and story threads spread over dozens of hours of gameplay. As you enter the tale, you’ll likely have plenty of questions – much like Saga. But hold onto them. The biggest ones aren’t supposed to be solved right away. Rather, they’re more of a slow burn, requiring you to first invest yourself in the drama at the heart of the game, and then slowly chip away at the mystery until you uncover the truth.

There’s a moment in Alan Wake 2 where everything will click, and the game changes. It’s a moment well worth waiting for. So just remember, even if you get stuck, or you’re burning to have your questions answered, staying patient is key.

Take time out for side quests and exploration

alan wake 2 gameplay
Screenshot: GamesHub

Alan Wake 2 hides plenty of side quests and mini-plots beyond the main story, with many requiring you to travel off the beaten path. As Saga wanders, she can find various cult stashes of goodies, as well as Alex Casey lunchboxes and childlike drawing puzzles. These hold great reward – stashes provide ammo, healing, and combat items, and the drawing puzzles provide charms that lend special protection.

More than that – these collectibles can be charted in the Mind Place, as a means to solve certain mysteries. Make sure you’re taking time to explore widely, and picking up as many of these collectibles as possible.

Likewise, ensure you’re exploring every possible room and area in a location. If you explore far and wide, you’ll typically find unique cutscenes, dialogue, and character moments that paint a more fertile picture of Alan Wake 2‘s world.

Consult the map – and consult it often

Each main area of Alan Wake 2 has an associated map you can grab – you’ll usually find them on walls in entranceways. Find these maps as soon as possible, and then consult them every step of the way, so you’re not grasping in the dark, or walking in circles.

Levels in Alan Wake 2 can become incredibly confusing, as the game is quite dark and the forests of Bright Falls are crowded with same-ish trees and plant life. (To that end, it’s best to play the game with the brightness turned up.) If you wander far and attempt to find your own way, it’s very likely you’ll get lost – so keep an eye on the map, and make sure you’re always heading in the right direction – or, at the very least, that you know where you’re going, once you travel off the main path.

Remember that Overlaps are loops

The tip won’t make much sense until you actually play the game, but regardless, it’s good to keep in the back of your mind. In certain chapters of Alan Wake 2, you’ll need to travel through ‘between spaces’ called Overlaps. These don’t have attached maps, and can be very confusing – but that’s by design.

Remember: Overlaps are always loops. So the only way to travel through them is to repeat your progress – usually by entering the same spaces again and again. You’ll know you’re on the right path in an Overlap when you hear particular voices, or see hallucination-like images on screen.

You may need to go through a repetitive loop a few times to escape these self-contained worlds.

Consider playing Alan Wake 2 on story mode first

alan wake 2 story mode
Screenshot: GamesHub

We’ve said this before, and we’ll continue repeating it: there is no shame in playing a game on easy or story mode. In the case of Alan Wake 2, we’d enthusiastically encourage it – because the story is the point here. While combat is robust, it’s also very challenging. If you want to explore the game’s main story completely unfettered, story mode is a great way of doing so.

It still maintains the game’s main challenges and puzzling, with no hints or tips to help you tackle its more obtuse puzzles. The only real aid that story mode provides is that you take less damage from enemies. Everything else remains the same. If you find yourself struggling, don’t be afraid to notch down that difficulty mode.

Consider playing Control and AWE before you begin

Finally, a quick and spoiler-free note: Remedy Entertainment’s games all tend to take place within the same universe – or at least, universes that are connected by characters and plot threads. Alan Wake 2 shares much DNA with previous Remedy hit, Control, and includes plot threads laid out in its Alan Wake tie-in expansion, AWE. It’s not strictly necessary to play this before you tackle Alan Wake 2, but references are made to the events in this tale, and it proves handy knowing what came before.

Likewise, a working knowledge of past Remedy games is also recommended – as various references and set pieces have origins in this history. We’ll say no more, but this tip is worth considering.

Alan Wake 2 is out now in digital format on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows PC.

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Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.