When Alan Wake 2 releases on October 17, it will be the culmination of more than a decade of planning. Though Alan Wake 2 is a project that creative director Sam Lake says he always believed would happen one day, it didn't always appear that way on the outside, and in that time it's taken on different shapes--most of them never seen by the public. 13 years is a long time between a story and its sequel, especially for a game so wrapped up in Remedy's tangled web known as the Remedy Connected Universe. Now that it's finally real, we thought it would be worth a refresher on exactly where we stand at the start of Alan Wake 2 when it comes to its place in the wider Remedy story world.
Naturally, some of what the game will dive into is not yet known to us, and we can expect a few twists, too. However, there's plenty we do know, not just from Alan Wake, but from 2019's Control and even some other Remedy projects. If you're wondering how Alan Wake 2 fits into the wider Remedy Connected Universe, here's what you need to know. And please note that this article contains spoilers for 2010's Alan Wake and 2019's Control.
How Alan Wake connects to Control
Alan Wake 2 takes place in 2023. We know this because of some clues we spotted in the debut trailer. But in between those 13 in-game and real-life years, the events of Control occurred. Remedy used Control as the first overt admission of a Remedy Connected Universe, though narrative ties do predate the award-winning 2019 game--we'll get to those, too.
In Control, and especially its Alan Wake-themed "AWE" DLC, we learn that the Federal Bureau of Control--which I like to consider The X-Files' X Division with much better funding--is well aware of the events of Alan Wake. In fact, the FBC had been investigating the events of Alan Wake's disappearance as a possible Altered World Event (AWE), an in-universe term for the weird "paranatural" stuff that happens around the country and which the FBC is tasked with investigating. Bright Falls, and particularly Cauldron Lake, according to the FBC, is the site of a "recurring AWE" with other possible events having taken place there in at least 1970 (Thomas Zane's incident) and 1976 (event unknown). Thus, it seems to be that Cauldron Lake is a Place of Power, a physical location which is especially attuned to the universe's strange happenings. Of course, this may only be the FBC's way of viewing the world, and they could be wrong about how Cauldron Lake derives its special properties.
It's not clear why Cauldron Lake is such a "special place," to quote the game's villain, Barbara Jagger. We only know it's ground zero for Bright Falls' high strangeness. At the end of the Control "AWE" DLC, protagonist Jesse Faden receives a notification in an AWE monitoring station that another Bright Falls-set AWE is set to occur in the future. Jesse isn't sure why the system is delivering information from the future, but in a meta sense, this was Remedy confirming Alan Wake 2.
It's not just these top-level details that connect the two games, however. The ties run much deeper. Frank Breaker, father of Bright Falls' Sheriff Sarah Breaker, was formerly an FBC agent and, though he seems to have retired by the time Alan visits the town, Frank relays details of the Bright Falls AWE directly to the bureau, according to a document found in Control. In Episode 5 of Alan Wake, Sheriff Breaker, via Alan's agent Barry Wheeler, contacts a number of people with a particular code word, "Night Springs," though what they do with that information is never seen or explained in that game. It seems this is part of what her dad Frank did; he alerted the FBC, who would later arrive on the scene in the Pacific Northwestern town according to additional documents in the game.
On that note, Night Springs is itself a crossover connection. In Alan Wake, we first see Night Springs as a black-and-white TV anthology blatantly paying homage to The Twilight Zone. In Control, we learn that Night Springs was created by the FBC as a public persuasion psy-op of sorts--a way to ease ordinary citizens into familiarizing themselves with and ultimately accepting paranatural concepts they wouldn't otherwise understand or believe in. You know how some UFO enthusiasts believe UFO videos are sometimes leaked by the government to ease us into accepting the existence of extraterrestrials? Night Springs is basically that in the Remedy Connected Universe--a way to upend a populous' worldview without it fracturing their collective psyche all at once.
Some also believe, due to some suggestions in the "AWE" DLC, that Alan may be directly responsible for creating the Hiss, the human-like enemies in Control that take over the FBC's headquarters, The Oldest House. I'm merely noting that here, as I'm not sure I agree with it just yet. It would fit with what we seem to know of Alan's powers, though; he seems able to nudge reality in different directions. In Control, it's suggested that Alan birthed the crisis within The Oldest House for Jesse to resolve. The popular theory says that this crisis would help Alan escape the Dark Place, but if true, we haven't yet seen how that's the case in any Remedy game.
In Control, we also come to learn of the Prime Candidate Program, which was established by the FBC to help identify people with parautilitarian abilities--basically folks who can wield the world's weirdnesses as powers. Jesse Faden and her brother Dylan are two Prime Candidates, and it's learned in the main game of Control that Alan Wake was considered for the program following the events of the 2010 AWE in Bright Falls. The program identified several candidates, but according to in-game documents, all proved fruitless until the Fadens, candidates six and seven, came along, though Alan's own candidacy was considered after the Fadens', who were first marked for observation as kids, so it seems he may still be a Prime Candidate himself.
There's one other major tie between Alan Wake and Control: Ahti the janitor. The mysterious Finnish custodian always seemed to know more than he let on in Control, and by the end of it, players who perform every side mission he sets out are treated to an additional teaser. Ahti, whose name is derived from the Finnish god of the sea, leaves The Oldest House and heads for Watery, Washington, the rival town to Bright Falls. This is important, though I admit it's not exactly clear why yet. What we do know is Watery will be an explorable location in Alan Wake 2. We also know that the beer Ahti is drinking in his postcard, Ahma, is a brand seen in Alan Wake 2 trailers. Ahma is the Finnish word for wolverine and Watery is considered "Little Finland," so it may be that the beer is brewed in town. If so, this would seem to hold great importance, as Coffee World, an establishment based in Watery, also seems to be prominently featured in Alan Wake 2 (and was retconned into the Remaster in the form of new flyers around town).
To this point I've largely laid out facts, but allow me to speculate: There's something wrong with the water in Watery, and the encroachment of Watery businesses such as Ahma beer and Coffee World, both of which likely use Watery's local water reserves for their supply, may be partly responsible for the murder and mayhem going on in Bright Falls when Saga Anderson arrives to investigate.
How Alan Wake connects to Max Payne
Officially, they don't connect. But it's clear that Remedy didn't want to totally lose the hard-boiled elements of Max Payne when it moved on to make Alan Wake. Enter Alex Casey, Alan's crime fiction protagonist who Alan kills off in the last book in his series in 2008, which happens before the events of the game. Casey is, for all intents and purposes, legally distinct Max Payne. Excitingly, Remedy has even been tasked with remaking the first two Max Payne games under Rockstar's continued assistance, so maybe we'll see new, stronger ties that connect Max Payne to the RCU.
For now, what we know is that Casey is meant to be an homage to Payne, but isn't truly meant to be considered the same character. But they sure do have similar bad luck with women--and who knows what those remakes have in store for us?
How Alan Wake connects to Quantum Break
The Alan Wake-Control ties are strong and overt. The Alan Wake-Quantum Break threads are much looser, but hard to deny. From an out-of-game perspective, Quantum Break's ties to the Remedy Connected Universe are basically over with, it would seem, as Microsoft still owns the IP, much like Rockstar owns Max Payne. Remedy did negotiate to take the rights to Alan Wake from Microsoft a few years ago, allowing for the remastered edition and the sequel--both published by Epic--but that's because it had plans to use it. It doesn't seem as though Quantum Break 2 is on the table, making it unlikely Remedy will seek to claim ownership of the time-traveling IP.
Still, there are ties that connect this game, and they're thankfully all done in ways that don't disrupt the RCU canon. The most obvious connection is the inclusion of several direct references to Alan Wake. Early in Quantum Break, players can find the Return trailer (embedded below), which includes earlier versions of Alex Casey and Saga Anderson searching for Alan Wake. Later, a whiteboard inside a college lecture hall is filled with Wake-centric theories that look sort of like Charlie Day's Pepe Silvia monologue in Always Sunny. The scribblings don't tell us a lot of concrete new things, but in 2016 when the game came out, they existed as sort of a meta Easter egg to tell players that Wake was not forgotten about.
There's also the oddity of Beth Wilder and Paul Serene deriving their surnames from Thomas Zane's cryptic poem at the beginning of Alan Wake, which you can read about more here. For now, I find this to be merely a cheeky reference and not hiding any more important lore details, but we'll see if that proves to be wrong later, I suppose.
The biggest connection tying Quantum Break to the Alan Wake and Control world is not one Remedy has confirmed yet. Martin Hatch, played in the game by the immortal Lance Reddick, was found to be a "shifter," or an interdimensional being who could travel across Quantum Break's multiple fractured timelines. It's suggested that these beings--assuming Hatch isn't the only one--are not friendly, and if we had seen a Quantum Break 2, we likely would've learned more about them. Instead, we learn about them in Control--or at least I strongly believe we do. Meet Mr. Door.
First mentioned by Dylan Faden in an optional scene in Control, Jesse's brother alleges that Mr. Door taught him some of the ways of the multiverse with which Mr. Door is intimately familiar.
"I was in a dark place, and there was a dark man there,"Dylan says to Jesse. "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."
The cop he mentions is Alex Casey, pseudo Max Payne himself. Here Dylan is referencing how Casey is both a fictional character in Alan's books and seemingly a real-life FBI special agent in Bright Falls during the events of Alan Wake 2. As for the shifter himself, the obvious ties in their names--Mr. Hatch and Mr. Door--suggest that these characters are the same singular being, and furthermore suggest to me that Mr. Door will be relevant in all RCU games--Alan Wake 2 included--as he seems to be the only one with intimate knowledge of each of them to date.
In this way, Hatch lives on as a mysterious shapeshifting character who needs not look like the Hatch we know from before. This lets the Quantum Break mythos stay relevant in Alan Wake 2 and beyond, even if Remedy has to, in large part, leave it behind. I expect to see or hear of Mr. Door in Alan Wake 2, tying these games ever more tightly together.
What's next for the Remedy Connected Universe?
What you've just read are all the major (and some granular) ways that Alan Wake 2 is connected to other Remedy games. But we also have some theories on what Remedy's next RCU game might look like. Join us this Friday, June 9, for a look at all of Remedy's announced and ongoing projects--as well as one additional project that seems to be hiding in plain sight.
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