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Alan Wake 2: Seven Lingering Mysteries The Sequel Might Answer

So what if "it's not a lake, it's an ocean"?

Part of the lasting appeal of Alan Wake is its number of dangling plot threads and unanswered mysteries. Fans love the game's atmosphere, its story, its characters, and plenty else--but many also just really want to know the answer to some of the questions Alan Wake poses but does not resolve. We recently spoke to Remedy's creative director and Alan Wake scribe, Sam Lake, who revealed his approach to answering mysteries--or not answering them, as is sometimes his preference. But given that some of the original game's mysteries will likely merit answers, we're taking inventory of where we left off and where the story might go next. Here are seven Alan Wake mysteries that might get answers in Alan Wake 2.

"It's not a lake, it's an ocean."

Perhaps the most famous of the game's mysteries is also its least likely to be neatly resolved. Alan's last words of the 2010 game (excluding DLC) are delivered like a revelation, but they weren't nearly as epiphanic to players as they seemed to be to Alan.

It may be that we'll get more clarity on what this means--maybe it relates to the vastness of the Dark Place and/or the corrupting influence of the Dark Presence--or maybe it's just sort of poetically interesting and we should stop wondering about it so much. It does, however, tie closely to Thomas Zane's poem that he recites when he appears to Alan in a dream at the start of the game--a poem that not coincidentally links to Quantum Break, too:

For he did not know, that beyond the lake he called home,

Lies a deeper, darker ocean green.

Where waves are both wilder and more serene.

To its ports I've been,

To its ports I've been.

Because of this oddity--referencing Beth Wilder and Paul Serene from Quantum Break--I think a third possibility is that it relates to the Remedy Connected Universe. I'm not sure Remedy had this in mind back when it made Alan Wake, at least not in name, but in either case it could sort of be retrofitted to the RCU anyway. As we learn in Control, Cauldron Lake seems to be a Place of Power, or a location that defies the natural world in ways the Federal Bureau of Control is tasked with investigating. Did Alan, amid his sudden burst of clarity, come to understand that the weirdness of Bright Falls is happening elsewhere, looks different in different places, and is all connected somehow?

Code word: Night Springs

In Episode 5 of Alan Wake, Alan learns from Sheriff Sarah Breaker that some of the town's citizens are aware of the strange goings-on of Bright Falls, even going so far to joke that it once served as the inspiration for Night Springs, the in-universe TV anthology series modeled after The Twilight Zone.

We learn in the game that Breaker and her "secret society" use the name of this series as a code word, almost like a call to action. In her group is local radio host Pat Maine as well as her father, a former detective and Federal Bureau of Control agent, Frank Breaker (presumably among others). What we don't know is what they did with this information. Once informed, what were their next steps? We won't likely see their actions as they transpired that night, but might we get more information on what this group knows and what it does with that information?

Thomas Zane

Perhaps the mystery that causes me the most and strongest headaches is Thomas Zane. In Alan Wake lore, he is a poet who visited Bright Falls in 1970 and had a similar experience to Alan when he arrived there 40 years later. Zane's muse, Barbara Jagger, was claimed by the Dark Presence, and Zane had to use Cauldron Lake's powers to make fiction a reality by writing his ending, which ended in self-sacrifice but only after leaving behind a shoebox for a character he created to find later. In the shoebox was an object: the Clicker Alan uses to defeat the Dark Presence posing as Jagger.

But the weirdest part--yes, somehow none of that was the weirdest part--is that the character Zane wrote into reality was… Alan Wake. Or was it? Later, when Alan is writing his own escape, it seems as though he writes Zane into reality. So which was it? Well, I think this is one we will never actually get an answer on, as Sam Lake has expressed his appreciation for time loops a lot over the years, including on the Alan Wake Remastered commentary track, and a lot of time-loop stories seem gleefully written to be vague about this particular "Stable Time Loop" paradox, so I do expect we'll never know for sure. But will it be toyed with some more in the sequel?

Mr. Scratch

Okay, actually this one gives me the worst headaches. Mr. Scratch, who derives his name from the noise that plays over Thomas's voice when he first introduces him to Alan near the end of the original game, is apparently Alan's doppelganger who is meant to replace Alan in the real world while Alan is stuck in the Dark Place--which he has now been stuck in for 13 years, though I suspect time moves differently there.

But Mr. Scratch gets a lot more confusing after that. He seems to have become some sort of twisted serial killer. According to 2012's quasi-sequel, Alan Wake's American Nightmare, as Alan disappeared, rumors stirred regarding the author's actions in Bright Falls. Those twisted urban legends took root in Mr. Scratch, who began to act out the fiction-turned-reality killings people gossiped about Alan having committed. This essentially allowed Cauldron Lake to birth a killer that looks like Alan.

Even if that's true, what's he been up to since then? Surely a serial killer of his apparent stature hasn't been running free for 13 years, or has he? Furthermore, why did Thomas Zane seemingly set him loose at the end of the game? Did he not see the dark turn coming?

No doubt, Alan Wake 2 will introduce plenty of new mysteries, too.
No doubt, Alan Wake 2 will introduce plenty of new mysteries, too.

Mr. Door

Unlike Mr. Scratch, Mr. Door doesn't seem to even appear in Alan Wake, at least not yet. First mentioned by Dylan Faden in an optional scene in Control, Jesse's brother alleges that Mr. Door is some sort of interdimensional being who teaches Dylan some of the ways of the multiverse with which Mr. Door is intimately familiar. I consider this monologue, which you can read below, to be the most important piece of the Remedy Connected Universe's puzzle, as it seems to tie all four of Remedy's most recent series together.

"I was in a dark place, and there was a dark man there. His name was Mr. Door, and he told me that there are many worlds--side-by-side, on top of each other, some inside of others. In one world, there was a writer who wrote a story about a cop. In another world, the cop was real. Door said he himself was in all of them at the same time, endlessly shifting between them."

If we take what Mr. Door says as true, I believe this character is one and the same as Martin Hatch from Quantum Break, played by the late great Lance Reddick. His name--Hatch/Door--seems to even be yet another Remedy-style name pun. Hatch was a "shifter," an interdimensional being, so I believe his likeness could look different in different worlds or timelines, something Quantum Break already touches on. I expect Mr. Door to appear in different forms in future Remedy games.

Where Hatch mentions a cop, he is speaking of Alex Casey, Alan's novel protagonist who is now somehow real in Alan Wake 2. Casey is also widely understood to be legally distinct Max Payne. We already know Control and Alan Wake are in the same universe, so this Mr. Door monologue appears to be the only instance of Remedy bridging all four of its connected games to date--though, like Max Payne, Remedy will need to forge ahead without direct ties to Quantum Break due to Microsoft currently owning the IP. Furthermore, when Dylan mentions being in a dark place, he may have literally been in the Dark Place.

But all of this is preamble to catch you up to the mystery we may see addressed in Alan Wake 2: Who really is Mr. Door, and what is his significance to the RCU? Might we see him, or mentions of him, in the sequel? Is it possible that he is even the RCU's version of the MCU's Thanos--the Big Bad who is merely referenced early on as the story builds toward a dramatic showdown?

The Oceanview Hotel/Motel

One of the oddest things in the latest Alan Wake 2 trailer is the sighting of the Oceanview Hotel, a vertically built city-style hotel that shares a nearly identical name with the much flatter, more rural-looking Oceanview Motel in Control. Why the venues have slightly different names, I chalk up to it blending into its surroundings. We know in Alan Wake 2, Alan's version of the Dark Place is playing off his memories of living in New York, so the Oceanview may be presenting as something fitting of its urban setting.

My bigger question with the Oceanview relates to its true nature. I believe the Oceanview to be a transit junction spanning all connected worlds in the RCU. Of the several locked doors we see in Control, each one has a different symbol on it, and we only see two of them definitively accounted for. We see Jesse enter through one of them, with an upside down triangle--the symbol of the game's mysterious Board--when dealing with the events of Control, and in the "AWE" DLC, it's implied that Alan's world is behind another, one with a spiral design.

It's also suggested that another door, with a symbol of two overlapping circles, is related to a paranatural terrorist group called The Blessed Organization, which might be a teaser for Remedy's next RCU entry. From all this, we can deduce that three of the Oceanview's six marked and locked doors are accounted for, and each one seems directly tied to a different RCU storyline.

This leaves three other doors marked with odd symbols and unexplained. Is the Oceanview the interdimensional nexus of all Remedy's shared worlds past and present? I do believe so, and with the Oceanview appearing in Alan Wake 2, I suspect we may get more clarity regarding its nature, whether my speculation is on the mark or way off.

Jesse Faden

As the star of Control, we maybe don't need to see Jesse featured prominently in Alan Wake 2. After all, we know hers and Alan's worlds are closely linked, with Bright Falls appearing to be the site of a recurring Altered World Event and Alan possibly responsible for creating the Hiss in Control--plus roughly two-dozen other ties, of course. But I do wonder if we'll see mention of Jesse at some point in Alan Wake 2. With Remedy working on a Control sequel, it would be fun for the most invested fans to get a glimpse of what Jesse is up to during the events of Alan Wake 2.

My guess is her name will come up in some documents that Saga finds in Bright Falls, and I would even expect to find the Federal Bureau of Control working in Bright Falls, perhaps butting heads with the FBI for jurisdiction. But will Jesse herself show up? Maybe in the DLC, but no sooner, I predict.

For more on Alan Wake 2, don't miss our exclusive deep dive on the game's co-protagonist, Saga Anderson.

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Mark Delaney

Mark is GameSpot's guides editor, meaning he tries to keep his backlog short. His favorite genres are battle royale, sports, and horror, but he'll play pretty much anything other than fighters. In his spare time, he likes biking around Portland, listening to Circa Survive, and advocating for animal liberation.

Alan Wake II

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