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Alan Wake 2's Night Springs DLC Is Somehow Even Weirder Than The Base Game

Remedy is leaning into the best parts of Alan Wake 2 to make an expansion built with its most devoted fans in mind.


"If you thought we were meta before, wait until you see this," Remedy's Thomas Puha told me at the start of a recent Alan Wake 2 DLC preview. The first expansion for one of 2023's best games is on the way, with the Alan Wake 2 Night Springs DLC launching for all Expansion Pass owners tomorrow, June 8. It's the first of two expansions and is split into a trio of hour-long episodes, each made to look like Night Springs, the in-universe television anthology inspired by The Twilight Zone. In a hands-off demo I attended, it quickly became obvious that Puha is correct. Somehow, despite the chaotic, ouroboros-like metanarrative that is Alan Wake 2, the DLC seems even weirder.

The premise of the DLC is players experiencing three failed attempts by Alan to escape the Dark Place before the events of Alan Wake 2, meaning exactly when they land in the 13 years he's been trapped there is a bit unclear at this point. As Alan fought with fiction to create his own exit strategy, twisting and morphing three scripts from his time as a TV writer became his next effort, which lends itself very well to the high strangeness Remedy has leaned into more and more since 2019's Control.

In one episode titled Number One Fan, The Waitress--who looks like Rose Marigold but who is not literally her--steps away from her shift at Nite's Diner (an echo of the Oh, Deer Diner) to rescue her lover, the Bestselling Writer. The episode opens with a pastel pinkish filter, a saccharine monologue narrated by The Waitress, and our hero of this episode dispensing to her loyal customers both delicious coffee and "really good advice."

She doesn't know each customer by name, but she oddly has a level of intimacy with each of them, as the subtitles jokingly refer to names for speakers like Lady With Seven Corgis and Guy Who Works With Computers. The idyllic opening is soon stripped away across a 12-minute demo that starts with this sweetness and ends with The Waitress shotgun-blasting a dozen or so Taken on the shore of Cauldron Lake.

For players who may play these episodes as they experience the base game for the first time and discover the TVs that lead to them, the shift in tone may cause whiplash, and that's intentional.

"Coming from working on survival-horror for five years, yeah, you know, it [let us] have a bit of fun with this," said game director Kyle Rowley. "We've talked about how, because the base game is so important from a narrative perspective, everything [must] connect together and make sense. So we had a lot of ideas that were like, 'This is a cool idea, but it just doesn't make sense in the context of what we're trying to do.' Whereas in this, we're like, 'That sounds cool. Let's put it in.'"

"And I love how that gives us an avenue to explore different themes that we have established before but then lean into them heavily," added level designer Nathalie Jankie. "I love Rose, so playing a character that's inspired by her, The Waitress--it's such a good power fantasy, because I think a waitress is maybe a less glamorized job than an FBI profiler or a best-selling author, but it's a power fantasy that a lot of us really relate to. And we just had the best time fantasizing like, what does it mean to be a fan? We throw quite a few enemies at you, and that's all to reinforce this fantasy that you're in control. You're saving the love of your life, you know? I think it's something that we've all maybe felt, being meaningful and being important to someone."

By bringing familiar faces into the framework of Alan Wake 2, the Remedy Connected Universe continues to unfold in unpredictable ways.
By bringing familiar faces into the framework of Alan Wake 2, the Remedy Connected Universe continues to unfold in unpredictable ways.

Each of the other two episodes brings its own distinct genre touches, too. In North Star, players will control The Sibling, who looks like Control's Jesse Faden, as she searches for her brother in what lead writer Clay Murphy called "the creepiest" of the trio. The synopsis reads like Control, which would lend itself to the fan theory that Alan wrote the events of Control into existence, though creative director Sam Lake told me just last year that Remedy does not intend to say Control's story is sincerely born from Alan's mind. That suggests this funhouse-mirror version of Control's leading lady and the events she'll experience in the DLC aren't meant to be taken too literally--not for Jesse Faden, at least.

Perhaps no episode feels more fan-service-driven than the sci-fi-flavored Time Breaker, which also perfectly illustrates just how meta this DLC will be. In it, players take on the role of actor Shawn Ashmore--yes, he's playing himself--who portrays a character named The Actor, who is an echo of Tim Breaker from Alan Wake 2, who himself is--fans would argue, anyway--an echo of Quantum Break's Jack Joyce. In this episode, The Actor "must track down the Master of Many Worlds" and prevent him from murdering the many versions of The Actor existing throughout spacetime.

To a lore obsessive like me, that surely reads like allusions to Jack Joyce and Martin Hatch (now all but confirmed to be Alan Wake 2's Warlin Door). In one possible reading of the text, that could make Time Breaker a quasi-continuation or even epilogue to Quantum Break, an IP that Remedy can't actually work with but still ripples out into current Remedy Connected Universe stories. But the team says, squint as some fans may to see such a closing chapter for Jack Joyce, that's not exactly what's going on.

"I think in the most technical sense, they could [theory-craft that], but they'd really have to squint," said Murphy. "After you play the episodes, you'll see, but there's not a lot of, you know, straight connective sequential tissue between these stories and maybe the elements they're inspired by. I'm sure I'll read that theory on Reddit at some point, but I'll downvote it," he joked.

Perhaps no episode feels more fan-service-driven than the sci-fi-flavored Time Breaker, which also perfectly illustrates just how meta this DLC will be.

And he's right; the fan theories will pour in no matter what, as they always have since 2010's Alan Wake. It comes with the territory and is part of the fun. "I've talked about this before, but seeing people's speculative videos or posts on Reddit or articles, sometimes we look at them and go, like, 'They're so wrong' or 'Okay, they're kind of getting somewhere,'" Rowley told me. "But you know, I think we like that. As a studio, a lot of our stories are mystery-driven, and even internally, some people are like, 'What the hell is going on here?'"

What if, I wondered out loud, Remedy happened upon a fan theory that got most everything right and cracked the case before Remedy is able to unveil it through its many interconnected games? Would they find it deflating or inspiring? "I don't think it's possible for them to crack the case," Rowley confidently said, "so we don't worry about it."

Alan Wake 2's Night Springs DLC launches tomorrow, June 8, for those who own the game's Deluxe edition on Xbox Series X|S, PS5, or PC via the Epic Games Store. The second DLC, The Lake House, is currently scheduled for October. A physical edition, as well as a collector's edition from Limited Run, are each on the way.

Mark Delaney on Google+

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