Laura Palmer. It’s a name I’ve known for years and comes from the cult classic series Twin Peaks. I also saw her face a lot, as the iconic photo was frequently seen throughout the show and shared again and again online. But despite the fact that I’ve consumed many Twin Peaks-inspired works, I’ve never seen the show myself. With Alan Wake 2 On the way, I thought it was time to check it out, and guess what? Remedy Entertainment Original Alan Wake makes more sense to me than ever before.
This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced something that was the subject of influence rather than the influential piece itself. Earthbound and Undertale are a great example of this, with the latter clearly being one of my favorite games, although the former is a title I’ve only just discovered a few years after experiencing Toby Fox’s indie RPG. It was an interesting experience because it clarified some of the reasons why Undertale is the way it is, but also showed how unique it is as a work compared to the game from which it emerged so strongly.
I’m experiencing something like this again with David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks, a series that is clearly an inspiration for Remedy’s games as a whole, but probably most of all for Alan Wake. A quiet town as a backdrop that, until recently, wasn’t too busy? Do surreal, supernatural events occur that cannot be explained in great detail? An overwhelming love for a good cup of coffee? All of these things are aspects of both Twin Peaks and Alan Wake, albeit in their own unique ways.
Even though I didn’t play Alan Wake until a few years after its release, I still enjoyed it, even if it was definitely flawed in some places. Some of these flaws were sometimes confusing, but often charming, and perhaps not negative at all. Take, for example, the game’s TV-like summaries and episodic nature. It doesn’t make sense if you don’t put the controller away after each “episode,” but they were there nonetheless. It certainly added to the surreal element and almost suggested that the game was as much to watch as it was to play, but could be seen as an odd choice.
However, given how Twin Peaks has evolved over its numerous episodes, the TV-like format that Alan Wake employs now seems much more sensible to me. Sure, you might not tune in week after week like you would any other TV show, but it does suggest a certain kind of pacing; It tells you, “This is the end point of this section, but there is more to come.”
Similar to Alan Wake, Remedy’s latest title Control comes into greater focus and has helped develop a much stronger sense of identity. There are echoes of Twin Peaks here too, like the mysterious caretaker Ahti, who may be related to someone like the giant. When Alan Wake and Control are together, it becomes clear what Remedy is doing here. It is the writing of a love letter to Lynch and Frost’s groundbreaking work.
Everything Remedy does with its “Connected Universe” is of course its own business, it’s not about copying anyone across the board, but rather about making its own contribution to the genre of the new crazy. Still, his games seem like a response to a conversation, almost like looking at Twin Peaks and saying, “So what do you think about that?” I think the only question now is: What will Alan Wake 2 add to that conversation? ?