Alan Wake 2 is finally with us after 11 years since the last game. A lot has happened before the events of this sequel which may leave newcomers completely confused as to what’s going on. Maybe you haven’t touched the first Alan Wake game but want to play its sequel. In this case you probably haven’t played 2010’s Alan Wake if you’re reading this.
In this article, I’ll explain whether you should play the first Alan Wake game before playing Alan Wake 2. I’ll avoid giving any spoilers for the two games except I do have to mention the premise.
It’s important to play Alan Wake before Alan Wake 2
You need to play the first Alan Wake game before the sequel if you want to understand what’s going on. You shouldn’t play Alan Wake 2 without the context of the first game. You’ll be completely lost with no idea or clue as to what’s going on.
Like many sequels, Alan Wake 2 provides a clear connection with previous events. I’ve played the first Alan Wake game, its DLC, and American Nightmare and I can confidently say that context is important. You’re not going to understand how Alan got trapped in the Dark Place and what he’s talking about when referring to the Dark Presence.
There are plenty of references that track all the way to the first game which can confuse you. The DLC chapters of 2010’s Alan Wake contains vital information about The Dark Place. You should even play American Nightmare to understand the lore behind some of the important characters reference in this sequel.
Alan Wake 2 technically does star new faces with a new protagonist, Saga Anderson. However the prologue of the game starts with two FBI agents investigating the murder of one of their own who happens to be a character from the first game. You won’t have any idea how significant this is unless you’ve played the first game.
While the official Alan Wake 2 FAQ states that the game can be enjoyed as a standalone experience, I heavily disagree with this. As someone who wrote our Alan Wake 2 review, I would’ve been incredibly confused as to who the titular character even is if I hadn’t played the previous installments.
Saying that you can play Alan Wake 2 without playing the first game would be dishonest. You’d not only miss out on the full experience but you’d also be left confused. There’s just too much context missing to recommend Alan Wake 2 to be played as standalone. Alan Wake 2 doesn’t even offer any recap to fill you up to speed.
Playing the first Alan Wake game is far from being a bad experience. Despite its age, it still offers a lot and can even hold up to this day. If you can, try to get your hands on the original Alan Wake instead of the Remastered version. In my opinion it offers a better experience. The first game can be completed in 13 hours so it isn’t that long.
Alan Wake’s American Nightmare does provide some info but it isn’t as important as the first game. I’d still recommend playing it as it’s only about 4 hours along. The thought of playing two games may seem cumbersome just to understand Alan Wake 2, but I can assure you they’re well worth it.