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Alan Wake Story Recap: How do Control and Alan Wake lead into the sequel?

Alan Wake Story Recap

The story unfolds in the fictional town of Bright Falls, Washington. We pick up in the Pacific Northwest in 2010. This is a logging and mining oriented town that harbours a dark secret. 

Alan and Alice arrive in Bright Falls for a vacation. Alan hopes that the serene environment will help him overcome his writer’s block. They are given the keys to a secluded cabin on Cauldron Lake by a mysterious woman.

What leads to Alice and Alan being separated?

Before we unveil more of this though, Alice surprises Alan with a typewriter in the cabin, believing that he’ll get more success with his writing with a change of scenery.

Alan, frustrated, storms out. Soon after, he hears Alice scream and rushes back to find the cabin dark and Alice missing, apparently dragged into the lake’s depths. Now, it’s also worth noting that Alice is actually afraid of the dark too so it’s fair to say Alan isn’t winning partner of the year anytime soon!

Alan dives in after her but blacks out. He then finds himself crashing a car, with no memory of how he got there, but a niggling feeling that he has to get to the cabin. He’s not only being stalked by a strange apparition in a diving suit, he’s also missing about a week of time.

What time period does Alan jump to?

He discovers manuscript pages scattered around, written in his own handwriting, which describe events that are happening or about to happen. These include axe-wielding maniacs and crazed birds coming after him. 

Alan manages to gain the attention of Sheriff Sarah Breaker, who shows up and delivers the devastating and shocking news – the cabin he was staying at hasn’t existed for decades. It was destroyed by a volcanic eruption. 

Soon after, Alan’s literary agent Barry Wheeler shows up in town to defend him. Alan spends a few more days in Bright Falls, with plenty of spooky goings-on during this time. To make matters worse, an alcoholic special agent from the FBI called Nightingale shows up and believes Alan is guilty.

Who is Dr Hartman?

Alan struggles against shadowy figures, known as the “Taken”, but is approached by a local who claims to have Alan’s wife. However, this is a red herring as the guy is actually lying and instead, works for Dr Emil Hartman.

Hartman is a local therapist that preys on creative victims, utilizing the darkness for his own nefarious goods. However, this dark entity is actually working against Hartman and in a shocking turn of events, attacks the therapist, leaving Alan scrambling to escape. When he does, Alan is encouraged to meet up with two old-timers in town at their farm, Tor and Odin Anderson.

What does Alan learn at the farm?

Alan naturally shows up with Barry, desperate for answers. It turns out the Dark Presence is actually empowered by art and manipulates artists to row itself stronger through the worlds they create, like a song the Anderson brothers made under their artist name of “Old Gods of Asgard”. Or maybe a story like Alan’s he was working on?

It turns out the Dark Presence has been feeding off the energy generated by Alan’s writing, growing influence beyond the “Dark Place”, which is basically like the hellscape from Silent Hill.

How does the Lady of the Light help Alan?

Alan seeks help from Cynthia Weaver, a woman dubbed as the “lady of the light”. She explains that she’s seen all of this happen before in the 1970’s, when a poet named Thomas Zayn was manipulated by this Dark Presence as well.  Unfortunately it took on the appearance of his partner, Barbara Jagger. Zayn was supposed to save her and failed. Now, it falls to Alan to try and do the same thing for his partner, Alice.

That creepy diver he’s been seeing? It turns out this is actually Zayn who has been guiding Alan to a better ending than his own. Weaver explains that Zayn left behind a shoe box for Alan to find years later. Within is something dubbed as “the clicker”. No it’s not a crazed fungal zombie but instead, a broken light switch that Alan used as a kid.

Naturally, the timeline goes a bit timey-wimey as it’s incredibly mysterious and trying to loop all of this to make sense within the context of the world, is like pointing at any of the timelines in Dark and figuring out which characters have beginning and end points!

What is Alan’s purpose?

Alan’s purpose here is to correct Zayn’s wrongs and save Alice. He takes the clicker and after heading through the Dark Place, comes face to face with the dark presence once again. Alan realizes that a story needs sacrifice and balance.

Alan decides to write a new ending to the story and puts the clicker inside the Dark Presence’s heart, which is still taking on the identity of Barbara Jagger at this point. 

The monster is defeated but certainly not dead. This small opening allows Alice to escape the Dark Presence. She emerges from the lake, swims to shore shaken but otherwise okay. As for Alan, he essentially switches places with Alice, allowing her to escape while he himself takes her place, symbolized by sitting at the typewriter. 

While Alan sits and prepares to write his ending, aptly titled “return”, Zayn informs that a doppelganger will take his place while he’s away from the physical world. The original game ends here, but the DLCs that follow do expand on this.

What happens in Alan Wake’s American Nightmare?

Alan starts to become more familiar with the Dark Place, bringing objects into existence and generally learning how the world operates. However, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, released back in 2012, goes in a bit more detail here. While it’s not a direct sequel in the traditional sense, it does continue the original story so it’s basically like Alan Wake 1.5!

In this game, players explore the town of Night Springs, while the doppelganger we mentioned before wreaks havoc in the real world. Alan has become something of an urban legend, with news spreading of a man (Alan) snapping on vacation and killing a while bunch of people while away with his wife. Essentially his doppelganger has now become a real-life serial killer.

In order to stop this, Alan is tasked with visiting three different women, all of whom aren’t familiar and they’re not Alice either. Oh, and they keep dying. Alan creates the perfect time-loop to save them and survive long enough to help Alan and defeat the doppelganger.

There’s a big showdown at the theatre, with a lovely reveal that Alan’s secret weapon was a movie Alice made that writes this doppelganger out of existence. Alan and Alice join together one more and share their happily ever after. The end… or is it? 

The narration then comes in, questioning whether Alan has really escaped or if he’s just daydreaming. 

How does Control tie into the Alan Wake universe?

8 year pass (in real time) and Control releases on consoles and PC, further throwing speculation that both games are set in the same universe. Well, Remedy has confirmed as much, and there are various connections between the two games. Control explores the Federal Bureau of Control (FBC), a secretive U.S. government agency investigating paranormal phenomena.

The game’s protagonist, Jesse Faden, is searching for her brother Dylan, who was taken by the FBC years earlier after a paranormal event in their hometown.

The real meat of this though comes from a DLC expansion called AWE. This simply stands for Altered World Event. These are the events that the FBC are sent out to investigate. But then some fans have also jokingly referred to this as the “Alan Wake Expansion” because, let’s face it, this is what the DLC is basically alluding to! 

In AWE then, we learn a lot more about he world at large. The events at Bright Falls, including Alan and Zayn’s individual issues, along with at least one unspecified event that predates both of these have been referred to as those aforementioned Altered World Events. 

Where is Alan in all of this?

Alan is still missing in the present day and Alice is haunted by images of her lover. However, it could well be that she’s seeing the doppelganger too and he may not have actually been defeated after all.

What happens in the AWE expansion?

Here though, we’re actually focusing more on Dr Hartman’s activities. Specifically Hartman’s activities surrounding Cauldron Lake’s special properties. Hartman originally jumped in the lake too, which caused the darkness to consume him, just like what happened with Jagger. 

Hartman was imprisoned within the oldest house, a shape-shifting headquarters for the FBC. Hartman broke free though, prompting the FBC to seal up the wing that stored a lot of the material regarding the investigation into Bright Falls. 

In Control, the protagonist, Jesse Faden, eventually tracks down and kills Hartman, after it’s merged with the Dark Entity.

At the end of the DLC, we get a little teaser for what’s to come. Computers in the “Oldest House” begin reporting on a new AWE occurring in Bright Falls. Only this is set in the future. And as we fade to black, the scene is set for Alan Wake 2 to pick up, in spectacularly twisty fashion!



And that’s pretty much it for the story to Alan Wake. There are, of course, extra intricacies to the narrative but this should be enough to whet the appetite for Alan Wake II.

You can check out our full walkthrough and game guide for Alan Wake 2 here!

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