Alan Wake 2 is a sequel 13 years in the making, and fans of the cult classic horror game have been dying to know the fate of the game’s titular protagonist. It’s clear Remedy Entertainment has wanted to make this game for a long time, evidenced by how much Alan Wake has influenced the studio’s other projects like Control. It’s a central piece of Remedy Connected Universe, the idea that all of Remedy’s games are set in one giant multiverse. There’s a lot of history and narrative context that leads into Alan Wake 2, so whether you’re new to the franchise or simply need a refresher, here are all the details, across games, you need to know before jumping in.
The most important thing to know about heading into Alan Wake 2, of course, is the story of the first game and where it left things. There’s a lot of plot packed into Alan Wake, but we’ll try and just cover the major points.
Bright Falls and the Dark Presence
Alan Wake revolves around a prolific writer of the same name who takes a trip to the small mountain town of Bright Falls, Washington, to try and rehab himself and start writing again. Alan and his wife Alice are staying at a Cabin on Cauldron Lake when things take a horribly wrong turn.
While there, Alan discovers a dark supernatural presence that kidnaps Alice and starts bringing an unwritten manuscript of Alan’s to life, making the events on his pages happen in the real world. Alan finds himself trapped in his own horror story where the only way to stop the darkness is to burn it away using light. Meanwhile, FBI agent Nightingale, who’s convinced the writer is conspiring to murder a federal agent, pursues Alan.
As Alan tries to overcome the darkness and save Alice, he’s helped by his best friend and agent Barry Wheeler, along with some of the residents of Bright Falls. The writer eventually finds himself in The Lodge owned by Dr. Emil Hartman, known for rehabbing artists who have fallen on hard times, suffer from mental health issues, or both. Before long, it’s revealed that Hartman has been trying to manipulate Alan to take control of both the writer and the dark presence for his own gain. He even went so far as to have one of his cronies claim to have kidnapped Alice.
Hartman is destroyed by the Dark Presence as Alan escapes with the help of two aged rock and roll stars, Tor and Odin Anderson, of the band the Old Gods of Asgard.
The Poet and the Muse
In the final chapter, we learn more about how the darkness has toyed with artists in the past, particularly the poet Thomas Zane. The dark destroyed Zane’s wife Barbara Jagger and now uses her body as a kind of conduit to influence the world. Alan wrote Zane into his story, letting the Poet help him fight the darkness. With Zane’s help, Alan realizes he has to correct the poet’s wrongs, and won’t get the happy ending he wants.
Alan and Alice’s Fate
Alan learns he needs the help of the “Lady of Light,” who turns out to be Bright Fall’s resident eccentric old lady Cynthia Weaver. For decades, Weaver maintained the lights of Bright Falls and kept an item called The Clicker, by order of Zane, which is an item from Alan’s childhood.
After fighting his way through countless Taken (beings controlled by the darkness) Alan arrives back at Cauldron Lake where he can face the source of the darkness.
Alan uses The Clicker to severely hurt the darkness and pulls Alice out of another realm, The Dark Place. The tradeoff, however, is that Alan himself is now trapped in The Dark Place, sacrificing himself to save his wife. Alan writes a new ending to his story, not making the same mistake Zane did years ago by trying to get the perfect “happy ending.”
That’s where the first game ends, with Alan’s fate unknown and the darkness seemingly quelled for now. There’s one final line from Alan before the credits where he realizes something and says, “It’s not a lake, it’s an ocean.” This line is intentionally left up to interpretation, but it likely points to the dark presence itself not being contained to just Cauldron Lake and that it could actually change and influence the world at large.
The Signal and The Writer DLC
Navigating the Dark Place
Alan Wake had two DLC episodes that followed up on the ending, and while there’s not a ton that’s important, there are a few things to mention. In The Signal and The Writer, we see Alan trapped in The Dark Place, a realm that wants to destroy him and constantly shifts reality to do so.
Alan’s consciousness is split in two, with his “rational” self fighting to get back to his body and retake control. Here, we see how The Dark Place can alter reality and play with people’s minds, something that’ll be vital in Alan Wake 2.
During the DLC, we hear the first mention of Mr. Scratch, Alan’s doppelganger who embodies everything the writer hates about himself, his ego and his dark desires. The two episodes end with Alan regaining control of himself but remaining trapped in The Dark Place.
Alan Wake’s American Nightmare
Night Springs, Arizona
American Nightmare is more of a spin-off, but there are some fascinating details that could be very important for Alan Wake 2. At the start of the game, we see a confused Alan waking up in Night Springs, Arizona.
Night Springs is a fictional in-universe TV show that’s similar to The Twilight Zone. Alan soon finds he’s trapped in a time loop. Through some investigation, we learn Alan has somehow managed to use his powers while in The Dark Place to write Night Springs into reality, using a secluded town that he can transport himself, or at least his consciousness, into.
Mr. Scratch’s Takeover
Alan’s doppelganger Mr. Scratch can apparently manifest in the real world and has been wreaking havoc. The sadistic being has committed murders, caused mayhem, and toys with Alan’s wife Alice, appearing to her every once in a while, just enough to make her think she’s going crazy.
Mr. Scratch created the time loop to keep Alan trapped in The Dark Place, but through subtly changing events bit by bit, and with the help of a trio of young women, Alan is able to overcome the trap.
During the events of American Nightmare, we learn that Alice created a film as a kind of “love letter” to her husband, who she believes is dead. Barry has also taken over as an agent for the Old Gods of Asgard and is producing a new album. The band also previously had supernatural powers through the dark presence.
At the end of American Nightmare, things remain unclear and the game poses the question of whether these events really happened or if they were just Alan’s demented daydreams in The Dark Place. Remedy considers American Nightmare canon, however, so it’s possible these events, and Mr. Scratch, could be vital moving forward.
Control and AWE
This brings things to Control, the other vital pillar of Remedy Universe, one that’s inexplicably linked to Alan Wake.
The Federal Bureau of Control
The Federal Bureau of Control is a secret federal organization that captures, contains, and studies all things paranormal, extraterrestrial, inter-dimensional, etc. The organization makes its headquarters in The Oldest House, a building that constantly shifts and evolves, seemingly with a mind of its own. The game revolves around Jesse Faden, a young woman who experienced a paranormal event where her brother was abducted by the FBC, and she’s been searching for the shadowy organization ever since.
Jesse inadvertently becomes the director of the bureau and is forced to deal with an invasion by The Hiss, a hostile entity from another universe. There are hints throughout the game that Control is connected to Alan Wake, but those connections become crucial plot points in the AWE expansion, a piece of paid DLC released post-launch for Control. This expansion can be played after a certain point in Control’s main story.
It’s important to mention the bureau’s seemingly innocent and quirky janitor Ahti, who is actually some kind of inter-dimensional being that guides Jesse. Pre-release footage shows Ahti will appear in Alan Wake 2, singing karaoke in a bar in Bright Falls.
Altered World Events
AWE stands for Altered World Events, a classification the FBC gives supernatural events it investigates. The FBC noticed Alan’s event as an AWE, as well as Thomas Zane’s before him, and considers both to be some of the most dangerous AWEs the bureau has seen. This caused the bureau to intensely monitor the area around Bright Falls.
In the AWE DLC, we learn Alan is still missing after all these years, and Alice has been haunted by nightmarish visions of him, likely because of Mr. Scratch. The bureau also studied Dr. Hartman, who apparently dove into the lake to claim its powers but was turned into an Entity warped by the darkness. Hartman was captured and contained in The Oldest House, but his power grew enough that he broke free, forcing the FBC to seal off the entire wing of the building.
After The Hiss invaded, they merged with Hartman’s dark Entity and became a monstrous new creature, which Jesse had to fight and put down. As the DLC ends, we see a monitor blinking, indicating that a new AWE is taking place in Bright Falls, but years in the future (teasing when Alan Wake 2 takes place).
All of this means that the FBC and more importantly, Jesse herself, are intimately aware of what’s happening in Bright Falls.
More Hints For Remedy Connected Universe
While Control and Alan Wake are the two pillars of the Remedy Universe, there are other important details to point out. Remedy Creative Director Sam Lake confirmed that both Max Payne and Quantum Break aren’t part of the universe, but that doesn’t mean they won’t influence it in some way.
Alan Wake 2’s new protagonist, Saga Anderson, has a partner named Alex Casey, played by Sam Lake himself. Alex Casey is the name of the detective from Alan Wake’s in-universe novels, but it’s also obvious that Casey is inspired by Max Payne. He’s a gruff and weathered New York FBI agent who’s taken down cults and criminal organizations, and knowing Max Payne’s personality and past could provide hints into Casey’s character as a tortured officer with a dark secret.
At the same time, Alan Wake 2 introduces two new characters, the Sherriff of Bright Falls Tim Breaker and talk show host Mr. Door. Breaker is played by Shawn Ashmoore, the same actor who played Jack Joyce in Quantum Break, and some fans have noted that the name “Tim Breaker,” could serve as a reference to the term “Time Breaker,” which certainly applies to Joyce.
Mr. Door is mentioned in Control as the character that introduced Jessie’s brother to the concept of the multiverse, and he bears some similarities to Quantum Break’s secret real villain Martin Hatch. Hatch was seemingly some kind of time-traveling or dimensional-hopping entity that was manipulating everything. Again, fans noted that the words Door and Hatch both function as portals or gateways, and Mr. Door could play a role as a central character to the overall universe. Even if Quantum Break isn’t officially canon to Remedy Universe, it certainly seems like some of the themes and ideas of Quantum Break’s story could play into the future of Remedy Universe.