Alan Wake 2's Final Draft Is a Brilliant Use of New Game Plus
Stuck in a loop.
Alan Wake 2 is already a psychological experience that makes you question reality. But its recently released New Game Plus mode cranks it up to eleven, making you question your own memory. Called The Final Draft, the feature adds a host of new story elements, while letting you retain all of your upgrades, charms, and weapons. It’s a subtle but brilliant use of New Game Plus that plays directly into Alan Wake 2’s narrative themes.
As a warning, because of the nature of The Final Draft, we’ll be discussing heavy spoilers for Alan Wake 2.
The Final Draft kicks things off wildly different, with a new opening cutscene that directly addresses the ending of the game. In it, Alan says, “Back to the beginning, with the memory of the past loop already fading fast.” He also references the huge revelation that the events of Alan Wake 2 are in fact a “Spiral” instead of a time loop, suggesting that things will eventually come to an end, instead of looping on ad infinitum.
The Final Draft explores the nature of memory. While there isn’t an overwhelming amount of changes in New Game Plus, really just two to four per chapter, the importance lies in how those changes are implemented. Saga can find new Manuscript Pages that describe a sense of deja vu, contain cryptic poems, or expand on existing events. Meanwhile, Alan can discover new videos that delve into his twisted psyche with this new knowledge, and there are some surprisingly-meta messages from Control’s Doctor Darling.
What’s significant about these changes is how and when the developers chose to integrate them in the game. You’re not finding something new all the time, but about every 30 minutes to an hour. This creates a sense of confusion about what’s new and what isn’t, making you second guess whether something was already present in the first playthrough or whether it’s a new discovery. At the same time, there are extremely subtle changes in a handful of cutscenes, like Alan mentioning feeling a sense of deja vu when he talks to Zane on the phone.
This sense of confusion is seemingly intentional on Remedy’s part, meant to emulate the bizarre situation that Alan and Saga find themselves in. These two characters have gone through the time loop multiple times, and they’re starting to be aware of it — the same can be said for players themselves. We’ve been through the time loop, we know what happens, but these subtle changes make the whole thing feel off, in a good way.
Alan Wake 2 is already so narratively and thematically ambitious, and it manages to succeed in nearly everything it sets out to do. Incredibly, though, The Final Draft feels like the last piece of the puzzle for seeing that ambition through, the key that lets you see the entire picture. It’s fascinating to see a New Game Plus that has such important narrative context, not only giving new story content but deepening your understanding of how the story plays out, and how the characters work inside of it. If you’ve played through Alan Wake 2 once, you owe it to yourself to see The Final Draft through to the end, as it cements an already phenomenal game in the annals of history.