Remedy Entertainment has been around for almost twenty-five years, holding with it a rich history. From 1996’s Death Rally to 2019’s Control, the developer has proven itself as one of the best studios around.
A company does not simply emerge with such a reputation without decades of hard work and interesting stories, however. For a company that prides itself on immaculate storytelling, it may be surprising to see the stories behind the games be just as interesting. Remedy is already working on two new games as a partnership with Epic, so let us appreciate the past while looking towards the future.
10 Started In A Basement
Many companies have humble beginnings, and Remedy Entertainment is no different. Sam Lake has talked about how the company started in the basement belonging to one of the founder’s parents. Even though there were only about ten people in the company at the time, that was still a tight fit for a basement, especially after accommodating for computers. Mattresses were also in the room for people to sleep on for a few hours before getting back to work.
9 Roots In The Demoscene
While Remedy Started in 1995, its origins go back even further. Most of the founders were a part of a demoscene group called Future Crew. For those who do not know, the demoscene is a culture of programmers who create small audio and visual presentations meant to showcase programming expertise. There are also a specific set of rules for the subculture. This dedication towards coding excellence shows in how advanced each Remedy game is in its respective generation.
8 How Sam Lake Got Started
Sam Lake is the creative director at Remedy Entertainment. Not only has he written most of the games, including Max Payne, but he also provided the face and trademark grimace for gaming’s saddest detective. He got his start in the company writing for Remedy’s debut title, Death Rally.
At the time, he was studying writing and English literature, so it worked out that he got a job writing for video games. Max Payne in particular is considered way ahead of its time with its extremely dark and morose narrative.
7 Max Payne Was Called Dark Justice
After Death Rally’s surprise success, Remedy moved on to a more ambitious title that eventually went on to become Max Payne. It was first known as Dark Justice, and development initially started with a team not much bigger than the group who made Death Rally. Even looking at the 2001 shooter today, it is difficult to believe it was made by an independent company. It is big, intense, and visually impressive. The use of slow motion, or bullet time, was also a revelation for gamers.
In an interview, former managing director Mattias Myllyrinne talks about the advantages of having a studio in Finnland. He says the country’s culture, social systems, and securities give a safety net which allowed a smaller company like Remedy to take on more ambitious projects. At the same time, the company also makes it a point to take the best talent from abroad, as the same video showcases several foreigners who relocated to Finnland to work with the developer.
5 Alan Wake Was Not Successful Enough For A Sequel
Alan Wake was even more ambitious than its predecessor, going through a significant development cycle where they eventually partnered with Microsoft. Unfortunately, the supernatural thriller was not the success both Microsoft and Remedy hoped it would be, leading to a sequel never coming to fruition. In more recent interviews Sam Lake has said that the game ended up being more profitable over time, fortunately. Prototypes for a sequel were in the works, and some ideas from these went into Alan Wake’s American Nightmare.
4 Some Of Max Payne’s Innovation Was Due To Budget Constraints
Even though Death Rally gave the developer a little bit of capital, Remedy still had to be cautious with its money. Max Payne made several cuts in order to fit within budget constraints, but some of these turned into trademarks. Mainly, comics were done in place of cutscenes, something which heavily contributed to the film noir vibe. The team also went location scouting, photographing New York and other areas to use as inspiration.
3 Sam Lake’s Parents Are In Max Payne
In addition to comic book cutscenes, Remedy also had to cut back costs when casting roles for these story sequences. Sam Lake recruited local friends and family to pose for these. In fact, his mother played the villain, Nicole Horne. His dad played Alfred Woden. One cannot help but make a joke about Sam casting his mother as the main villain when he plays the hero. Max Payne 2 casted professional actors for the comic sequences.
2 Actors Are Often Reused
Remedy was ahead of the curb when it came to using actors in games. Each performer truly embodies the character, providing both the voice, likeness, and performance capture. Those who have followed the developer since its early days will notice familiar faces and voices throughout the years.
Going all the way back to Max Payne, the character’s voice, James McCaffrey, recently worked with Remedy again on Control, this time using his likeness as well. Control star Courtney Hope previously performed in Quantum Break, and Matthew Poretta who played Dr. Darling was the titular character in Alan Wake.
1 Remedy Uses Its Own Tech
Continuing from its early days in the demoscene, Remedy Entertainment prides itself on its tech. Even the first Max Payne was graphically impressive back in the day, and it was made on a small budget. Almost all Remedy games use the company’s own graphics engines, which explains the sometimes long development times. This dedication to technological excellent sometimes negatively affects console gamers. Max Payne 2 barely runs on the PS2, and 2019’s Control stutters and brings the PS4 to its knees.