It’s a long-standing horror tradition to unsettle the audience by using flash jump scares — terrifying images or short clips that break up the action on screen only to disappear as quickly as they came. It was the way to troll people online in the mid-2000s; play a regular video and then cut to a disturbing image with a scream over it that would blow out your eardrums. Alan Wake 2 uses them in spades, overlaying terrifying close-ups of Mr. Scratch with a loud music sting. I find them effective, but they’re not for everyone.
Thankfully, in a recent Alan Wake 2 update (1.15) the developers have added a feature that allows the player to tune these horror flashes. The adjustments aren’t robust, but you can now choose between low and normal visuals and audio intensity.
I tested the new features out by putting both visuals and audio on low. Thanks to an added chapter select feature also included in this update, I was also able to jump to an area I knew had a big jump scare — specifically one that even got me. I booted up a Saga chapter and headed to the Valhalla Nursing Home to talk to Cynthia Weaver, who you first run into while she’s staring out the window. It’s also the first time she makes it known that she’s possessed with a flash jump scare.
The new setting doesn’t remove this reveal entirely, but it slows it down, removes a lot of the flashing light, and lowers the volume of the music quite a bit. It just looks like the close-up of her face is moving in slow motion. I’ll admit that it doesn’t look as seamless as the regular ones do, but for somebody who can’t play Alan Wake 2 because of these moments, it’s a great alternative, similar to how arachnophobia settings in games like Lethal Company and Grounded turn spiders into floating orbs. It’s not the most natural-looking replacement, but it’s better than the original.
I know a lot of people who wanted to play Alan Wake 2 but couldn’t because of these jump scares. It’s definitely a horror game, but it’s not “scary” from start to finish. It has a lot of comedy, kitschy moments, and great atmosphere. I was always bummed they couldn’t experience “We Sing” as it was meant to be played. And now they can! Thanks to the new chapter select function, they can also play that level over and over again.
Of course, there are plenty of bug fixes in the update. Some of my favorites include, “Added audio for impacts when the Espresso Express hits the player. Don’t try it please. Coffee World is in enough trouble as it is” and “fixed the player character so they use arms as expected.”