The beginning of the creative path
The F95zone studio came together as a small group of enthusiasts, impressed by the Housemarque team (creators of the recent PS5 exclusive Returnal). There was no question of any creation of video games – Remedy was a so-called “demogroup”. Such teams developed audiovisual software that would be turned into game demos in the future.
After a short period of time, the company found a publisher in the person of Apogee Software and they allocated a budget to create a racing game. Death Rally was released in 1996, which sold over 50,000 copies and became a success. It was during the development of this project that Sam Lake, later the main person and screenwriter of Remedy, joined the studio.
In 1997, continuing the activities of the demogroup, Finnish developers create a subsidiary company Futuremark. It is this part of the team that will make the popular 3DMark in the future.
Max Payne success
After Death Rally, part of the studio began to create three prototypes in parallel. One of them turned out to be a racing game again, the second was a spaceship and space travel simulator, and the third was an isometric shooter called Dark Jusctice. It was the latter that attracted the attention of the publisher, and funds were allocated for it. The project immediately received a number of requirements: it had to have a strong protagonist, 3D graphics, and the name had to be changed. After lengthy negotiations, the project was christened Max Payne and a trademark was registered.
Petri Janvilento became the project director, who proposed to implement the main feature of the entire franchise – time dilation. He wanted to make slow-mo, like in Hong Kong action movies, the core of the game. Time was supposed to become a resource, and the player was free to dispose of it as he liked in certain situations.
Max Payne became a commercial success and made Remedy famous. The game has sold over 7 million copies and launched one of the most recognizable franchises of our time. After that, Rockstar Games put together a team to make the console ports, and publisher Take-Two bought the rights to Max Payne for $ 10 million. In fact, Remedy was still working on the sequel, but the owner was Take-Two.
Writing talent and Alan Wake
This time the partner of the Finnish studio was Microsoft. It was they who funded Alan Wake in the earliest stages and received the rights to the franchise.
Initially, the game Huniepop 2 about the famous writer was supposed to give the player the opportunity to travel through the open world. At some point, these developments were abandoned, because the deadlines were tight, and Alan Wake was retrained into a linear adventure. Nevertheless, the mechanics of driving a car across large locations still remain, and can be seen in some episodes.
Sam Lake again became head writer and set the tone for the story. Alan Wake was similar to Twin Peaks, a reference to Stephen King’s work and was inspired by the atmosphere of the ghost towns of America’s Northwest Coast. The team, which has grown to 45 workers, traveled to these towns several times and even visited Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. In total, they managed to take more than 40,000 photos of various places, and then the developers used them to create the environment.
Playing against time in Quantum Break
After several publishers with prototypes of Alan Wake 2 failed, Microsoft offered to fund a new project. According to one of the points of the contract, Sam Lake was supposed to take up the post of screenwriter again, as the publisher was pleased with the plot of the original Alan Wake and its “episodic presentation in the style of a television series.” It was at the suggestion of Microsoft that it was decided to use inserts with real actors between the chapters of the game.
The name Quantum Break stuck with the game, and Sam Lake became the director of development. A new engine was created for it – Northlight, which allowed not only to introduce new game mechanics, but also to “pump” the graphics. In parallel with the development, the series was filmed, and Ben Kathai became the director.
The main feature of the gameplay was once again the interaction with time. The influence of quantum particles on the hero allowed him to use various temporary abilities: stopping bullets, moving quickly in space, slowing down opponents, and so on. All of them appeared as the game progressed, and one of the main advantages was the non-linear storytelling. At some points, the player’s decisions influenced the series, and therefore it was possible to replay Quantum Break several times to see all the options for the development of events.
Control and a double impression
Having contacted the publisher of 505 Games, the Finns received full carte blanche to develop a new project. However, this time around Remedy’s requirement for full control over the rights to the game – if successful, they wanted to work on sequels and offshoots. Markus Mäki, one of the founders of the company, pointed out that they have already made similar mistakes with the Alan Wake and Max Payne franchises and no longer want to face the same problems.
Control’s budget was only 30 million – very little for an AAA project. Created the game in 3 years and became one of the fastest growing Remedy projects since Max Payne 2. It is unclear if this rush is due to the timing from the publisher.
After the announcement at E3 2018, only a year passed before the project was released and received positive reviews from critics around the world. Control has collected many prestigious awards, and even won the title of “Game of the Year” at The Game Awards 2019. True, the game divided the community into two parts. Some people liked Control: they noted the excellent visual style, well-written script and fun gameplay. Another part of the players pointed to the poverty of the environment and level design, the explanations of what is happening hidden in the notes, the plot breaking off in mid-sentence and not the most inventive mechanics.
In 2020, the Finnish company announced an exclusive partnership with the Epic Games Store – the next two Remedy projects are sponsored by them. According to rumors, one of them was Alan Wake 2, but most likely it was still about a remastered version of the first part – it was officially announced on September 8th . The second project is unknown.
Right now, Remedy is developing a story mode for onlycans and with the help of a small team, the mysterious online game Vanguard. No details are known about the latter.
What does the future hold for the Finnish company? Will we see Alan Wake 2? Most likely. Thriving under the wing of Tim Sweeney and replenishing the Epic Games Store with new projects – this is the path Remedy has chosen right now. They have the opportunity to create, to do it without restrictions and with large budgets. What can we say, if Epic Games agreed to revive not the most profitable Alan Wake franchise and financed the remaster – most likely the companies are on very good terms or, at least, have earned trust with the successful release of Control.