Alan Wake Takes “Control”
In the AWE expansion, Alan rewrites his fate
The image of a man hunched over a typewriter flickers across the screen as you make your way towards the elevator. Someone from the beyond is making a call on the Hotline. It’s Alan Wake, and he’s where you’d expect him to be: sitting behind a desk, writing, and in The Dark Place.
Only this time, he’s writing about you.
“Faden sensed a drowning man, desperate to escape. She sensed something else, too. A hunger in the dark…”
Alan is on the Hotline and last we saw him in 2010, he was facing Cauldron Lake, which has the supernatural ability to transform art into reality. The implications give me pause.
In The Foundation DLC, we left Jesse confident that they can carve their own path as Director of the FBC. All of that defiance and free will comes to question the moment Alan — or so we hope is Alan — writes about Faden going to the elevator.
I don’t have enough information to draw any solid hypotheses, so I take the elevator and press the button that will take me to the Investigations Sector…following Alan’s script.
Afraid of the Dark?
Alan Wake entering the Control universe brings with it all the mechanics that made our heart race and gut drop: the darkness and limited sources of light.
There are rooms that are thrown into darkness that leech Jesse’s energy levels. The first time you step into one, you can’t help but scurry to any source of light. Just like in Alan Wake, the darkness is an oppressive and soul-sucking presence.
Cue the war flashbacks of 2010 me traversing through Bright Falls, chasing after every lamppost and hoarding batteries. Only this time, you don’t have a Clicker. You’ll have to seek out small lights to cut through the darkness or to remove the darkness that sits on walls like goopy tar.
My first darkroom has me hunkering down in an illuminated, industrial elevator. I hit the button and cautiously eye the gloom. The elevator refuses to move and the bulbs above begin to flicker. Pop. The bulbs go out and the entire room goes pitch black.
Just like in Alan Wake, sources of light do not last forever.
A red light pulsates a good forty feet away from the elevator. Cutting through the red in all black is a “stretched out,” eldritch shadow with a jutting rib cage on its back. It hurtles itself towards me. Dark mass slams into the elevator. I can only see what the dim, red light allows me to, but I can hear everything. My heart drops when I hear the elevator’s gate begin to rise…
In the midst of my panicking, I realize I already knew this would happen. Why? Alan warned me on the Hotline an hour ago. Or did he write that Jesse would be attacked in the dark?
Who is in Control?
Who is driving this story? Jesse? Alan? Someone else?
As darkness grows, so does the mystery that is introduced in this expansion. Oceanview Motel, despite its own elusiveness, gives me a hint.
There is a new door in the motel. Open it and we’re given a troubling scene of what may be Alan being stretched thin in The Dark Place.
Alan stands in The Dark Place but doesn’t stand alone. Someone else is with him, proclaiming to be Tom Zane. Not once does Alan notice the person before him is his double.
Throughout the scene, we see Alan’s face splitting and mirroring itself in the background, a kaleidoscope of inkblot tests one would see in a Rorschach test. The imagery is fitting. Not only because these tests examine our psychological interpretation of images, but because the test itself is controversial. The “Rorschach has been a shape-shifter, adapting to whatever psychological theories were in fashion” (American Psychological Association, 2018).
Alan: “Tom. The poet? The diver? You look different.”
Tom: “That was just a…role, a character. The protagonist I played in my old film.”
I wonder if this is Mr. Scratch taking advantage of Alan’s amnesiac state in The Dark Place. Or is this truly Tom Zane? Or are we thinking too small and it’s something far greater and powerful at play?
Alan’s doppelganger tries to jumpstart Alan’s memory as to how they know each other. They’re collaborating, remember? They’re trying to escape. Alan is writing.
Before we can see more, we’re kicked back into the motel’s hallways with more questions than answers.
Is the “artistic collaboration” really a deal between Alan and __________ in order to better their odds of escaping? Who is the one in control? Who is the one writing over the Hotline? Is it Alan? Thomas Zane? Mr. Scratch?
AWE Lets You Explore
This DLC gives you an expansive level in the FBC to explore as you try to unravel this Alan Wake mystery. The Investigations Sector is filled to the brim with gripping side stories and unique Altered Items and recreations of Altered World Events.
Become plunged in your own action movie on zooming platforms as you dodge obstacles and take down Hiss as you chase after an altered movie projector. Or step into a train carriage where interacting with items gives you an echo of a bloody attack by paranormal criminals. Or how about dealing with evils email chain letters once and for all?
As icing on the cake, Remedy writers even allow us to revisit unique enemies and The Ashtray Maze after you play around on the SHÜM arcade.
AWE provides a wide variety of quirky, unique, and haunting side quests that will keep you braving the darkness and wanting more.
Alan Wake: Creating A Believable Story
I become obsessed with the mystery laid out before me as I continue to explore.
Dr. Hartman, a psychiatrist who previously exploited Alan, haunts the Investigation Sector. He’s not part of the Hiss, but he’ll occasionally mutter their nonsensical chant and flare red. To me, he’s a walking connection to this Alan Wake mystery and I chase after him.
I hoard every file and recording collected, creating a mental timeline of the events. While I still wonder about Mr. Scratch and Tom Zane, Hartman takes priority. I naively believe somehow putting down Hartman will lead to all my questions being answered.
The battles with Hartman adds a new layer to combat in Control that will leave you on the edge of your seat. You have to navigate pitch-black rooms and turn the lights back on while Hartman chases you. Being strategic about how to use your energy levels and your Ranger ally (if available), is key to defeating him.
As I spend all my energy defeating Hartman, it’s Alan’s last Hotline message and a flashing ‘Activity Detected’ warning at Cauldron Lake, to realize that I was always just another character in Alan’s script.
Hartman’s metamorphosis into a rampaging monstrosity, Alice Wake’s visit, Investigation’s Sector fate, and even my own actions are revealed to be Alan’s writing at work. I suppose I should have always known, but the extent of how much was scripted by Alan still shocks me.
It’s why Alan’s message of how to create a gripping manuscript in the middle of the DLC went over my head.
“Be clever. Make them do the work. Form the image in their minds. They make it. You just imply. Incept. They are drawn to the mystery. Obsessed. You set it up, they put it together.”
Was I simply a distraction that led to Alan being able to set in motion his escape plan? Where was The Board in all of this? No way did Alan write Langston’s two-minute monologue on his cat Alfred.
As I listen, again, to Alan’s messages — but, now, in a different order — it dawns on me the carnage Alan set in motion. The Investigations Sector’s bloody end. Hartman’s unnatural transformation and attacks on Jesse and others. The methods to make this escape plan come to be were ruthless and strategic…
I even question if Alan is truly the writer, seeing he openly struggles with gaps in his memory and claims the only thing he trusts is what he has previously written. If he’s written them…
While Jesse Faden may not have been in control of this DLC, I’m hooked on this mystery. I can’t help but wonder what Remedy’s writers, Alan, or whoever it is behind the typewriter, will write next…
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