Architecture in game

Design full of madness – architecture in Alan Wake 2

Alan Wake 2 is a real pearl of art design. The psychotic story is decorated with a world full of metaphors, details and stylish ornaments. This is a story that pleases the eye like no other. Welcome to the world of architectural split personality in Alan Wake 2.

I have the impression that only after the success of Control did Sam Lake get the green light from the producers to release the brakes and prepare the game he wanted. It seems to me that it was only now that the level of technology made it possible to do what he had in mind.

I won’t describe this place specifically, but you will have a great time / own materials

And the effect? Well… Alan Wake 2 received the award for “Best Artistic Design” during this year’s The Game Award. I fully support this decision. This is a unique title from an artistic point of view. Why? Because it combines incredibly detailed levels with realistic graphics, but mixes them with surreal elements of madness in which the main characters are set. First things first.

Welcome home… Sam

The creator of the title is Sam Lake, a screenwriter and creative director . He is an artist who plays with conventions bordering on crime and madness. Each of us could see how much he can spin a story and fill it with authenticity while playing Control.

New York is not just a level, it is an emanation of Alan’s nightmares / own materials

But for Sam Lake, Alan Wake 2 is a double return to familiar areas where he feels extremely good. And it shows. On the one hand, we return to places and regions known from the first part, i.e. Bright Falls.

But the place of the action is also a nightmare that plays on a loop in the main character’s head, and is depicted in the streets of New York. It’s also a return to a familiar place, as both of the Max Payne movies that Sam Lake worked on also took place there.

Coming back to Bright Falls is a nice experience. Everything looks much better, but the city space seems less… / own material

For Lake, both Bright Falls and New York are materials that he understands perfectly and is able to use their specific advantages. It combines an original narrative full of madness with amazing clichés that authenticate the entire story in the player’s eyes.

Bright Falls smaller than last time, but…

While Alan remains trapped in the Lair of Darkness, two FBI agents conduct an investigation in Bright Falls. This is an opportunity to visit areas familiar from the first part. And let me point out right away, the town seems much smaller than last time.

The space we can visit during the game is limited to a few streets and a few buildings. Fortunately, the number of details and refinement of the places we see are at a high level and these limitations do not hurt.

Elderwood Palace Lodge

As you can see in the screenshots above, Bright Falls has grown quite a bit! The large wooden building in the lower left corner of the screen certainly attracts attention. This is Elderwood Palace Lodge. It was built in 1898. Before you start bashing the fact that he wasn’t here in 2010, as you can see in the screenshots above, well…

Please! There is even an appropriate explanation of the secret / own materials on the wall of the building

…I’m in a hurry to tell you. That the residence originally stood in a different location. It was dismantled and moved to its current location in 2015. Which explains its appearance in the place of the former Vicar hall. It’s nice that the creators remembered the events and stick to them carefully.

The place has its secrets, but I will skip it for the sake of people who haven’t played it yet. The building obviously refers to regional residential buildings. There’s not much going on there. A simple layout with one hall and two branches. But there is something that attracts special attention. These are two beautiful fireplaces!

The first one draws attention primarily because of its construction in the wall of the building. Yes, this way the heat that could spread around the room is lost, but on the other hand it would not look so spectacular. Moreover, this type of chimney construction was very popular in the northern US in the 19th century.

The fireplace in the main room has two separate hearths, but something reveals that it is from the 19th century / own materials

The second one is located in the very center of the main hall and has two fireplaces. One for each side. How do we know that the fireplace comes from the 19th century and not, for example, earlier? It’s a Romanticism-era building, so it was designed à la an old estate. It is betrayed by a grate lined with clinker bricks. A very popular motif in the 19th century.

Walhalla Nursing Home

But there are more interesting new buildings appearing in Bright Falls ! The one that impressed me the most was “Walhalla Nursing Home.” Yes! You guessed it, this is where we can meet the members of the Old Gods of Asgard band!

The most beautiful building in Alan Wake 2. I do not invite you to talk / my own materials

It was originally built and designed by an unknown architect in 1965 and purchased by none other than Thomas Zane! Fans of the first part of the game probably had their hearts pounding at this news. Now imagine that this hovel, abandoned since 1970, was bought and renovated by our friend from the previous part, Barry – Christmas lights – Wheeler!

At the time of its construction, the described residence was constructed in a somewhat old-fashioned style, as it has many elements associated with colonial architecture. The year 1955 is said to be the decline of this style. But let’s remember that Thomas Zane was an avant-garde creator, so it fits together.

There was also a bay window / own materials

The colonial style squeezes everything it can out of the glazing in its time. It was in the 19th century (the Colonial style came into use around 1880) that glass manufacturers mastered the art of making larger windows without the use of small copper mullions.

I have no idea what these numbers mean. Well, apparently the year it was built, but that doesn’t add up. Double bottom? / own materials

Architects then came up with this solution, illuminating the interiors. And that’s exactly what you see in the building owned by Thomas Zane. The only thing I couldn’t decipher was the date on the building. 1887. This is not the date of construction of the building. This is not a date related to any event in the lore universe. And I honestly have no idea what it symbolizes.

New York’s nightmare

Alan Wake has been trapped in the Lair of Darkness for over ten years and, trying to escape, he wanders the empty streets of the city where he once lived with his wife Alice. The streets resemble an ever-changing maze that responds to his words. This is how we could briefly describe what we are witnessing.

The New York that Alan travels through brings out everything that is worst in the city / his own materials

Alutor wanders the streets of the city, but these are the blackest of black spots on the map. The darkness is overwhelming, the paths often change direction. Is it difficult to make the streets of New York a terrifying maze? NO. Does the Remedy team do it perfectly? Yes!

Traversing the rooftops in this puzzle of ladders and darkness is a real staple/own materials

He combines real shots of this city and transforms them into a deadly puzzle in Alan’s head. And the most beautiful thing about this journey is the fact of adding surreal elements – different visions. As if the entire space that Alan visits consisted of several cut-up drawings and every now and then some terrible toddler was changing the settings of the cutout.

This is poignant and gloomy from today’s art deco perspective

I won’t pretend. You can feel here that Sam Lake and his team are perfectly at home in the optics of dark New York. He has been exploring this artistic layer since the time of the first Max Payne. Let me remind you, it was not only a bullet time action game, but also a narrative gem of its time.

A gloomy metro station? Must be! It’s New York / own materials

So we visit clichés of the old New York, the one that is not shown in Instagram holiday photos. Dirty buildings full of graffiti. Empty, puking-filled metro stations or street alleys where there is no light even during the day. I have the impression that Sam Lake and his team simply feel this matter. This is the material from which they know how to make things.

Gloomy art deco

Honestly, I love art deco. It is one of those architectural styles that fit perfectly into its times: solemnity, wealth and prestige. Today, you need to have an incredible amount of talent to prepare a vision of art deco so that it doesn’t become ridiculous.

This style simply had its moment and is fun to watch now. You can feel the splendor and prestige, but how many would like to be surrounded by it every day? Certainly, only true gourmets. These are completely different materials, a different tension between man and space. The creators from Remedy sensitively conveyed the “glow” of old Manhattan, hidden behind the art deco joints.

This can be seen in a whole range of elements. It’s not just finishes and characteristic lines, but a whole lot of interiors filled to the brim. Sam Lake in Alan’s visions shows us a New York that no longer exists, but somewhere deep inside us it is implanted by hundreds of films and series shot in the 20th century.

I just buy it

And there are more such metaphors. Everyone has heard about the musical that we can watch during the game. All these glimpses of Alan’s consciousness as he travels. These metaphysical inserts while playing Saga Anderson. Everything is absolutely tasteful and well thought out, and apart from that. It looks amazing.

Alan Wake 2 is one of the prettiest games I’ve ever seen. All the flashes, reflections, play of light. It’s something you can watch over and over, not to say on a loop. If you have a few pennies and want to experience a visually sophisticated game with a deep narrative layer – you will like Alan Wake 2.

Alan Wake in 2005…

During the game, at some point we will come across a desk with notes written by Alan’s biggest fan. There wouldn’t be anything interesting about it if it weren’t for an interesting photo of our crime writer. It shows a man wrapped in a red scarf.

This is quite a funny reference to the original Alan Wake. This is how he was presented in the tech demo in 2005! I’m very glad that this vision didn’t make it into the final title. Alan in the tweed jacket appeals to me much more!

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If you want to read a description of the architecture in the first Alan Wake, click on the image below!

Architecture in ALAN WAKE: about bridges, champagne fabric and Baba Yaga

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