Remedy Entertainment, Epic Games and Laced Records have unveiled the Alan Wake 2: The Original Soundtrack, coming on May 14.

This release not only commemorates the legacy of Alan Wake, the game that carved its niche within the horror genre, but also enhances the narrative depth of its long-awaited sequel. I did a fireside chat with the composer of the Alan Wake 2 original score, Petri Alanko, who also did the score for the original Alan Wake game 13 years ago. We spoke at the recent Reboot game conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Fourteen years ago, Alan Wake introduced players to its eerie, suspense-filled world, quickly becoming a cult classic. Its narrative-driven gameplay and atmospheric settings drew players into a thrilling psychological horror experience, supported by a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack. The game’s music was pivotal in crafting its intense, mysterious atmosphere, leaving a lasting impression on the players.

The much-anticipated soundtrack of Alan Wake 2 mirrors the original’s captivating essence yet carves out its own identity. Available across major music services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music, this collection is a masterpiece from Petri Alanko, the composer behind the original score. Returning to the series, Alanko brings with him a refined auditory palette that promises to deepen the game’s dark, immersive narrative.

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“It’s been long time in the making, to say the least,” Alanko said. “Having spent a good part of the last decade – and a few years more – with Alan Wake and his two worlds, the outcome of the soundtrack is about as coherent and on spot as can be from my point of view: this is how I want you to feel it.”

Petri Alanko, composer of music for Alan Wake 2, speaks at Reboot Develop Blue.

Alanko’s approach to the Alan Wake 2 soundtrack was akin to reuniting with an old friend, discovering both familiar and new elements to play with. The soundtrack consists of 35 meticulously crafted tracks that encapsulate the emotional and suspenseful journey of the game.

“Each musical cue is designed to emphasize specific sequences, enriching the players’ experience beyond visual elements. I carefully thought about the soundtrack. To me, be it a movie soundtrack or a video game soundtrack, it should work as an entity in and of itself,” Alanko said.

“Remedy is known for its high quality and storytelling – the same applies here. I am sure everyone experiences Alan Wake 2 at their own pace and rhythm. There are many possibilities to explore as well as paths to take within the game’s realms. I tried to include the themes and cues according to a general or average timeline, but of course there will be a lot of differences,” Alanko said.

“Petri’s score for Alan Wake 2, right from the beginning of the project, hit the mark with the deep unsettling tone that underlined the dark nature of the game. While developing it was lovely to listen to how the score developed and how the ideas formed. Even after listening to the game for hundreds of hours, I still hear new connection points and subtilties in the score, which is a true testament to Petri’s skills as a composer,” said Richard Lapington, Remedy’s audio director, in a statement.

The soundtrack also features unique contributions, including four songs by the artist Poe, co-written with creative director Sam Lake. Additionally, the song ‘Yötön Yö’ (‘Nightless Night), penned by Lake and performed by Martti Suosalo (who plays Ahti in the game), offers a deep dive into the game’s thematic elements, resonating with the mysterious and eerie undertones of the game’s setting.

Remedy said the release of Alan Wake 2’s soundtrack is not just a nod to the past but a shining beacon for the future of the franchise. The soundtrack is a testament to the enduring impact of Alan Wake series, promising to bring fans an experience that is as nostalgically familiar as it is refreshingly new, the company said.

In our fireside chat at Reboot, Alanko said the presence of two main characters — Alan Wake and Saga Anderson — meant that the music itself had a duality.

“The duality is one thing. When it comes to the content of the game we had some difficulties, because we had to be doing more or less a stand-alone thing instead of a sequel. No one had played the first game. It’s a cult game. Not even classic. Classic-ish. But it changed my life. It really did,” Alanko said.

He added, “In Saga’s case it’s more about survival and desperation. It’s more concrete for her. She probably has the most to lose. Her daughter, her husband, her colleagues. Everything connected to the real world. It was a clever move from Remedy to include another protagonist in the game, because we could do a similar cycle to what we did with Alan Wake one, but it doesn’t feel like repetition or recycling. Saga took on the role of the innocent protagonist, which Alan had in the first game. The only thing is that Alan had to suffer the whole thing by himself. Here, he’s still suffering, but trying to get back to the surface. Saga is about to dive deep.”

Alan Wake 2
Alan Wake 2

He said started working on the music for the first Alan Wake in August 2004, almost 20 years ago.

“It’s interesting that–there are two worlds that are separated in the beginning of Alan Wake 2, and then they collide,” he said. “For a short time they are entwined as one, until toward the end they come apart again. The ending of the game is somewhat ambivalent.”

The work wasn’t easy, Alanko said.

“The composition phase wasn’t easy, to be honest. There had to be both a normal world and then the sheer hell that Wake was enduring on a daily basis. On top of that, I interpreted the situation such that he kept dying, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, over and over,” Alanko said. “He didn’t remember anything when he woke up again, yet he managed to leave clues. It kept adding on to all the themes, all the clues building a tower that he climbed up and eventually found a way to deal with the normal world, which is when all the [bad stuff] starts happening in Saga’s world.”

That was one of the greatest challenges, he said. The instrumentation, orchestration, melodies, themes, everything.

“I spent approximately a year with the amalgamation or the merging. It was very easy to do the separate things, the Dark Place and the normal world,” Alanko said. “But when you had to mix those two things–I kept revisiting the updated cinematics on almost a daily basis to keep track of what was happening, what we were leaving out, what we were adding to the world. It took most of my working time for a year.”

He added, “Outside that, though, it was the smoothest thing there is for a composer. A concept like that, I think I said somewhere, is actually a gift, because you can do everything. But usually everything means you do one thing at a time in a sandbox. Here the sandbox was suddenly cramped into one microscopic spot for a year.”

The 13-year journey from Alan Wake to Alan Wake 2 is well known. Alanko is one of the people who lived through it all.

Alan Wake
Alan Wake, a psychological survival horror game from Remedy Entertainment — 13 years ago.

“I started writing music right after the first one was finished. There were already plans to maybe do a sequel, but it would remain to see how the first one would go,” he said.

The mixed results of the original game’s sales stalled the sequel for a quite a while.

“I wrote music for 13 years, more or less. Not on a daily basis, but every year I did something. Every time Sam had an idea, I started writing music. I listened to his ideas and the pitches. I checked the concepts and everything, and I’d do something based on that,” Alanko said.

Alanko noted he had no interaction with the band, Poets of the Fall, as they performed Old Gods of Asgard’s Herald of Darkness inside the game. But he did need to write music that was near the performance within the game.

Asked about the ideas that the music communicated, Alanko told me, “I’ve been investigating and studying psychology for the last 10 years or so. That’s my hobby, listening and hearing about psychology. What makes people tick, what increases their anxiety, what makes them nervous. I tried to do all the possible hocus-pocus with the music in order to achieve a certain reaction.”

He added, “Of course music can work both ways. When you’re playing it, you control the music. It’s controlled by your actions. What we did in most cases, the music starts luring people toward the horror that happens inside the brain. It’s very easy, actually, to induce horror, or to walk people toward horror by just doing things like jump scares. They start to think, ‘Okay, something much worse will happen soon.’ Somebody mentioned that during the playtests, people’s hair started standing up after a few jump scares, because they kept anticipating what might be around the next corner. It’s a bit like Pavlov’s dog. When you learn, ‘Okay, this means something,’ you start anticipating it.”

During those sections the game used a lot of “unharmonic” music, he said.

Sam Lake is the creative director of Alan Wake 2, and the model for one of the characters in the game.
Sam Lake is the creative director of Alan Wake 2, and the model for one of the characters in the game.

“Just normal instruments, basic instruments, but processed so that their overtones were slightly off,” Alanko said. “It resembled the original cello, for instance, or brass section, but instead it was a little off. Not so badly off that it felt really bad. But when those sounds were processed through all the stuff we used, I think we found just the right mix of psychological–luring? I don’t know if that’s the right word. I need to translate everything from Finnish to English.”

Alanko said he was proud of the opening musical sequence at the start of the game where there’s the deer head in the middle, and then suddenly you realize that it’s actually raining on the surface of the lake. Then a dead man, Robert Nightingale, walks out of the lake.

Alanko was also proud of a scene when Alan Wake is driving alone in a car back to the town of Bright Falls in the middle of the game.

“The piece that can be heard in the background is the piece I wrote for Remedy back in 2004. That was a piece I did for the original game back in the day. I was supposed to be in the first one, but because they had to cut the budget and release the game, they needed to take out three levels. That was one of those levels,” Alanko said.

There was also a moment where Alanko dug out something he had written for the original game but it didn’t make it in. He put it in the second game and played it for Sam Lake, the creative director.

“Sam recognized it,” he said.

Saga Anderson in the creepy woods of the Northwest.
Saga Anderson in the creepy woods of the Northwest.

As for working on the same project across 20 years, Alanko said, “I like being on a project a long time. In the end it saves time and saves money. Most of all it saves time because the need for iteration is almost down to zero. You get to know the project and the concept and the people and how they behave.”

Alanko spelled out why it was satisfying to work on both games.

“I knew what had happened. I knew the depths of each character, which is very important here. You have the past and you need to build on top of that. You use that as a foundation and continue building new levels or floors or whatever,” he said.

He added, “The continuity there–we used the Alan Wake notes, the theme, quite sparingly with the first one. Here it can be heard in the warning sounds, for instance, the Scratch theme. When shit hits the fan with Saga you can hear an evolved version of those notes. We managed to squeeze quite a lot of use out of eight notes, or four notes really. The theme consists of eight notes, but it’s usually the first four ones that are heard in the advertisements and whatnot.”



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