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Tuesday, October 5, 2021

New Secrets In ‘Alan Wake Remastered’ Have Set My Fan-Theory Brain On Fire

“Beyond the shadow you settle for, there is a miracle illuminated.” Those words by Thomas Zane spoken in Remedy’s Alan Wake are not as often quoted by fans as some other go-to lines–something like “It’s not a lake, it’s an ocean” comes to mind as a fan-favorite. But I nonetheless had Zane’s line on my mind this past week when I dove into Alan Wake Remastered. In many ways, the game’s warm reception in 2021 is something I couldn’t see coming. 

Each year that passed since Alan Wake launched (fatefully) alongside Red Dead Redemption in May of 2010 has made it feel less likely that we’d ever get Wake’s proper sequel. But whatever the perpetually cryptic Zane meant when he said that line to Alan, I’ve looked at Alan Wake Remastered–and the obvious sequel we’ll now be getting–as one of gaming’s great miracles. Before I dive in head-first with more fan theories, note that this article will include several SPOILERS for Alan Wake and Control, so proceed at your own risk (and don’t mind my madness).

Alan Wake Remastered is a special kind of re-release. It’s one that alters the original not just visually, but with important new content. When playing the game for review over these past few days, I happened upon a few subtle nods that Remedy left for players, and whether you can’t play the game yourself or you maybe did and missed them, I wanted to break them down here so the theory-obsessed fan community can take a close look at these new “visions” of Alan Wake.

By my count, three times throughout the remastered version of the game, players can find new QR codes that were never in the game before. Scan them and each one will bring you to new footage of Alan–official whereabouts unknown, but we can assume the Dark Place. Sporting his longer hair and filmed in the same style that we saw during Control’s Wake-heavy second DLC episode, these so-called visions offer more of Remedy’s preferred brand of puzzling language that nonetheless leaves breadcrumbs for players to follow.

The first vision appears in the game’s opening moments. As Alan is taunted and chased by his first Taken, he retreats down a staircase and passes an outdoor board of flyers, signs, and a curious QR code. Vision 1 features Alan recapping, albeit vaguely, what sounds like the DLC episodes now packed in with the main game. Alan was trapped in the Dark Place, too deep to emerge from this apparently physical (or maybe not) realm.

So he learned how to write himself out of trouble, twisting his own words into weapons to push back against The Dark Presence which sought to use his own mind against him. This is exactly the plot of the second DLC episode, The Writer, so its placement in the first scene may seem odd, but it’s so cryptic that I think it works. If you’ve played before, you may pick up on what Alan is talking about. And if not, it’ll swiftly go over your head as you continue through the tutorial.

The part of this first vision I can’t figure out is Wake’s mention of a detective. He was made famous thanks to his Alex Casey novels, who himself is a stand-in for Max Payne, but Wake seems to suggest he needs a new detective to help him out of The Dark Place. Who is this detective? We don’t seem to have seen them yet, but we may have heard of them.. Nightingale is an FBI Special Agent and Sarah Breaker is the Bright Falls Sheriff. But her dad, Frank Breaker, was a police officer in New York years ago. 

control awe review 01

We learn this in Control, where we also learned he was something of a liaison for the Federal Bureau of Control when they appeared on the scene following Alan’s incident, declaring Cauldron Lake a Place of Power, or a geographic location sensitive to paranatural events. Frank himself used to be an FBC agent according to information discovered in Control, and in Wake is one of several people who Sheriff Breaker tells Alan’s agent Barry to call and issue the blunt message: “Night Springs.”

We never get to learn why Breaker meant with her message, but we can deduce she kept a list of townspeople on standby who would need to be alerted in the event of a brush with The Dark Presence. Put all this together and we have Frank Breaker, possibly a former detective and definitely in-the-know regarding the weirdness of Cauldron Lake. Could he be the one Alan is summoning in his newest manuscript as seen in Vision 1? I believe so.

Vision 2 feels even more cryptic than the first, but that may be because I’m trying to extract too much from a simple mood trailer for what is effectively Alan Wake 2. In this vision, Alan speaks of inspiration, how he takes it from reality and twists it to fit his story, thus making his “lies” come true. While this could be read at face value as simply a meditative thought on the writing process, I do sense Alan is also referencing Control in this second clip.

In the AWE DLC, it’s implied that all of the events in Control are actually the result of Alan Wake’s writing and thus not real. Some fans seemed disappointed by this, perhaps especially those who came to Control without having played Wake and then might’ve felt like their beloved Jesse Faden was relegated to imaginary status. But I think this second vision actually proves that’s not the case. Alan says he pulls from reality, adds in fiction, and the end result is an amalgam that makes the latter exist like the former.

It seems clear to me that Alan Wake and Jesse Faden both exist in the same universe and, importantly, neither is the figment of the other’s imagination. Alan is bending reality to set himself free after years in The Dark Place, but the kernel of truth remains: Jesse is real too. This should be good news for fans who hope to see both stories continue, as they no doubt will be, given Remedy’s official announcements regarding Control and suddenly frequent teases regarding Alan Wake.

In the final vision, Alan seems to write his escape from The Dark Place. He describes coming up to the waterline in Cauldron Lake, naked and suffering from amnesia. Nearby, a dead deer rests by the dock. Without any sense of why, he runs into the forest “to a fate worse than death,” and the vision ends. While I find most of this to be pretty clear and in line with what we’ve seen from his story before, with his amnesia maybe explained by how he says horror stories require sacrifice, the part that trips me up is the fate worse than death. Simply put, I have no idea what this could mean. 

While I love talking Remedy Connected Universe theories, I’m stumped by this phrase and would love to hear your thoughts. What is Alan’s fate worse than death? Is Alice dead? Is Alan’s mind never going to recover? Is he now “taken” too? It’s clearer than ever that we’re going to get Alan Wake 2 within the next few years, but that just means we have a few years to come up with our best theories. These are some of mine following the new content in Alan Wake Remastered. I’d love to hear yours.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/video-games/3685822/new-secrets-alan-wake-remastered-set-fan-theory-brain-fire/

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