Alan Wake is an action-adventure game developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Microsoft Studios, released for the Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. The story follows best-selling thriller novelist Alan Wake as he tries to uncover the mystery behind his wife's disappearance during a vacation in the small fictional town of Bright Falls, Washington, all while experiencing events from the plot in his latest novel, which he cannot remember writing, coming to life.
In its pacing and structure, Alan Wake is similar to a thriller television series, with episodes that contain plot twists and cliffhangers. The game itself consists of six episodes, and the storyline is continued by two special episodes, titled "The Signal" and "The Writer", that were made available as downloadable content (DLC) within the same year of the game's release. Together, they make the first season of a possibly longer story. Additionally, a six-episode live-action web series called Bright Falls acts as a prequel to the game, and a number of related books also expand upon the Alan Wake story.
Chiefly written by Sam Lake, Alan Wake took over five years to create—an unusually long development time in the game industry. The game was originally developed as an open-world survival game as an anti-thesis to Remedy's prior linear Max Payne games, but struggled over three years in merging the gameplay with the action-thriller story they wanted to tell. After an intense two-month period, the team reworked the game to be a more traditional linear game broken into an episodic approach but which better supported the planned narrative structure and capable of reusing much of the open world assets already built. The game received positive reviews from critics, and is often praised for its visuals, sound, narrative, pacing, and atmosphere. Alan Wake was awarded the first spot in Time magazine's list of the top 10 video games of 2010. Alan Wake's American Nightmare, a full stand-alone title, was released in February 2012 on the Xbox Live Arcade service. A sequel was in development but was cancelled. However, the scrapped sequel became the foundation and inspiration of Remedy's next title, Quantum Break.
Plot[edit | edit source]
Alan Wake (voiced by Matthew Porretta) is a bestselling crime fiction author suffering from a two-year stretch of writer's block. He and his wife Alice travel to the small mountain town of Bright Falls, Washington for a short vacation on the advice of Alice and Alan's friend and agent Barry Wheeler. Before their arrival, Alan has a nightmare about shadowy figures who try to kill him, before an ethereal figure interrupts the dream and teaches him how to use light to fight the shadows.
Upon arrival in Bright Falls, Alan goes to retrieve the keys and map to their rented cabin from Carl Stucky, the cabin's landlord, but encounters a mysterious old woman, who tells him that Stucky had fallen ill and she was entrusted to give Alan the keys. The woman directs Alan and Alice to a cabin on an island in the middle of Cauldron Lake, a volcanic crater lake. As they unpack, Alan finds that Alice arranged the trip to help break his writer's block, arranging for him to see a Bright Falls psychologist named Dr. Emil Hartman, and leaving a typewriter in the cabin for him. Alan is infuriated and storms out of the cabin, but rushes back when he hears Alice crying for help. Alan returns to the cabin just as Alice is being dragged into the lake's waters by a mysterious force. Alan dives into the water after her, blacking out as he submerges.
Alan regains consciousness a week later, apparently having driven his car off the road, but with no memory of how he got there. He attempts to reach a nearby gas station, but his progress is hampered by murderous, shadowy figures resembling those in his dream. While fighting the shadows with light, Alan repeatedly encounters an ethereal figure in a diving suit similar to the one from his dream, which leaves behind pages of a manuscript entitled Departure, ostensibly written by Alan, which he has no memory of writing. Alan soon discovers that the events of the manuscript are coming true, and that the shadowy figures, or "Taken," are townsfolk possessed by a dark force. After killing a possessed Carl Stucky and reaching the gas station, Alan tries to alert Sheriff Sarah Breaker of his wife's disappearance, but Sarah states that there has been no island or cabin in Cauldron Lake for years after it sank following a volcanic eruption years prior. Alan is taken to the police station, and Barry arrives in Bright Falls in search of him.
Alan receives a call from a man purporting to be Alice's kidnapper, demanding the pages of Departure in exchange for her. Meeting at a nearby national park, Alan witnesses the kidnapper at the mercy of the mysterious old woman, confessing that he never actually had Alice. Alan and the kidnapper are then attacked by a dark tornado, which hurls Alan into Cauldron Lake. He awakens in the lodge overlooking Cauldron Lake under the care of Hartman, who claims that Alan is suffering a psychotic break, with the supernatural phenomena being fabrications of his imagination. Alan attempts to escape the lodge as the shadowy force starts to attack it, learning in the process that the fake kidnapper was employed by Hartman to lure Alan to him. Hartman tries to stop Alan from escaping, and gives the impression that he is aware of the supernatural events surrounding the lake. Barry helps Alan to escape the lodge before the shadow subsumes it and all those inside.
Alan and Barry gradually begin to learn the truth about Cauldron Lake from the other townsfolk. An entity known as the Dark Presence (taking the form of the old woman, Barbara Jagger) is trapped within the lake, attempting to escape by using the lake's power to turn fiction into reality. It had previously tried this with a poet named Thomas Zane — the figure in the diving suit — but Zane was able to resist its will and used his writings to cause the volcanic eruption that sank the island, stranding himself within the lake. The Dark Presence has grown strong enough to start to influence the townspeople and create the forces that have pursued Alan. That night, as Alan and Barry take shelter, they get drunk on moonshine, and Alan starts to recall memories of being forced to write Departure during the prior week, realizing that the Dark Presence is now trying to use his writings to escape, and is holding Alice within the lake in order to coerce him.
Alan and Barry are arrested by an FBI agent, but the Taken assault the police station and drag the agent away. Sarah, now convinced of the Dark Presence's existence, helps Alan and Barry reach Cynthia Weaver, a hermit who knew Thomas Zane and prepared countermeasures for the Dark Presence's return. She leads them to the "Well-Lit Room," containing a light switch known as the Clicker, which, through the power of Alan's writings, possesses the narrative ability to destroy the Dark Presence. Alan returns to Cauldron Lake alone and dives in, finding himself in a surreal alternate dimension known as the Dark Place, where thoughts and ideas become reality. Alan encounters Jagger and destroys her with the Clicker; realizing he must maintain balance in the story, Alan completes Departure by freeing Alice, but strands himself in the Dark Place in the process. Finishing Departure, Alan writes the final line - "It's not a lake, it's an ocean."