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In an interview with Joystiq, Remedy’s Oskari Hakkinen admitted that the initial announcement of Alan Wake as a free-roaming, sandbox game was a mistake on the company's part.

When we announced Alan Wake, we announced it as an open world game, and that was a mistake.
We’re not even shy to say it. Remedy is a humble group of people and we will say it was a mistake. It was a tick-box back then, that was a trend. “Open-world,” “free-roaming” and “sandbox” was the way to go.
(...)
We tried that for about six months, trying to get the pacing right of a thriller in an open world setting. When you have the player turning up to a love scene in a monster truck when they should be showing up in a Cadillac you know something’s wrong. You know something is not working.

Source: Joystiq

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