I totally get that blockbuster-styled, so-called cinematic action-adventure games are widely regarded as some of the most linear, hand-holding, done-to-death titles out there. But I genuinely enjoy these kind of games when they're done right, when everything sings with a consistency—of in-game physics, narrative logic, and relatable characters in situations of palpable peril. Waist-high cover: optional.
Finnish studio Remedy Entertainment has delivered four such titles—Max Payne and its sequel, Alan Wake, and 2016's somewhat underrated Quantum Break, a game that I called "the superhero gaming surprise" of last year.
A disappointment, then, that so many saw it as Just Another Streamlined Cover Shooter, and didn't appreciate the flexibility of supernatural-styled combat the game afforded. And, as a direct result, didn't dig into a story of time travel used for malicious, selfish purposes, and family and friends torn apart in the backdraft. Granted, it wasn't without its clichés, but Quantum Break tried to be much more than a generic third-person shooter—and when you let it loose, deploying all the powers available to protagonist Jack Joyce, it really does feel a bit special.
Remedy is working on a new game in the style that it's founded its admirable reputation upon. And I, for one, warmly welcome that.
But it's certainly not the game that Remedy is most admired for. Since its release in 2010, fans of Alan Wake—a very Twin Peaks-y feeling affair in which the title character, an author of psychological thrillers, dramatically unravels the dark mysteries of a small American mountain town—have been crying out for a proper sequel, something more substantial than its twin slices of DLC and 2012's American Nightmare spin-off.
That's still nowhere to be seen, and when I met someone from Remedy at Gamescom last year, just for a casual catch-up, he was saying nothing on its chances of Returning for real. The conversation, instead, was about projects quite unlike the Remedy norm—in particular the making of a story mode for a sequel to the big-in-China multiplayer shooter CrossFire. Which isn't what any of us come to Remedy for, really.
But we do now know that Remedy is working on a new game in the style that it's founded its admirable reputation upon. And I, for one, warmly welcome that.
The working-titled "Project 7", which also represents the start of a new publishing partnership between Remedy and 505 Games (the name behind Abzû, Virginia, and Rocket League), is to be a "cinematic third-person adventure game" featuring "the deepest mechanics yet seen in a Remedy game", according to its makers (via gamesindustrybiz.com).
Remedy has also emphasized that Project 7 will be a "long-lasting experience", perhaps addressing criticism of Quantum Break's fairly brief running time of not much more than ten hours, minus its television show-like between-chapter clips. Or, perhaps that's a suggestion that, unlike Quantum Break, they're looking to go further, wider, with the universe of their next IP—with DLC and sequels sketched out from the start.
When I spoke to Remedy's creative director Sam Lake in 2016, he expressed an ambition to do more with Quantum Break, describing the game and its complementary show as "the first season". I think it's a shame that grander vision hasn't yet been realized—but then, who knows what the future holds alongside the development of Project 7.
You can absolutely count me in for Project 7 itself, though, which is destined for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4—making it the first Remedy game since 2003's Max Payne 2 to land on a Sony platform. "I don't think anyone else but us could do a Remedy game," Lake said to me, last year—and by "Remedy game," he means a certain breed of third-person experience, where narrative focus is as important as explosive action, as exemplified by Max Payne and Alan Wake.
Remedy were burned by Quantum Break's attempt to use television as a storytelling vehicle alongside its traditional interactive model—and that these Really Long Cutscenes centered themselves almost solely on characters peripheral to the game's events rendered them less than essential to the overall impression. If Project 7 sees the studio going back to what it does best, making awesome adventure games with pronounced filmic leanings, without going all-in on actual film production, then those impatient for more Alan Wake should have something to see them through a while longer.