Control Is Filled With Details About Alan Wake's Fate
Warning: This isn't a lake, it's an ocean--of spoilers! This piece discusses several plot points in both Control and Alan Wake, exploring the connections, Easter eggs, and expansion possibilities between the two games. Read on at your own risk, preferably once you've at least finished Control.
Control takes place in a world where alternate dimensions bleed into our own, objects of supernatural power disrupt lives with often-deadly consequences, and a building with shifting rooms is an everyday workplace annoyance. It's also filled with story items that turn Remedy Entertainment's slate of games into one big ongoing universe, both directly and indirectly. But no game has as much influence and connection to Control's world as the studio's 2010 supernatural horror story, Alan Wake.
As it turns out, Control is nearly bursting with Alan Wake callbacks, but they go beyond just giving Remedy fans some fun Easter eggs to find. Control gives real story clues about what has happened in Alan's story since the release of the original game almost a decade ago. The clues you find in Control also give more context to several of the events in Alan Wake. And now we know for sure that Control's final DLC expansion, AWE, will cross its story over with Alan Wake in a definitive way.
Here's a rundown of every bit of Alan Wake-related info that's hidden in Control and what it might mean for the future of Remedy's games.
Alan Wake's Story Was An Altered World Event
The Federal Bureau of Control specializes in investigating, containing, and covering up the existence of Altered World Events, or AWEs. These are basically moments when other dimensions creep into our own, with varying supernatural results. The document "Bright Falls AWE" found in Control show that the Bureau responded to the events of Alan Wake, but arrived after the events of the game. During Alan Wake, Sheriff Sarah Breaker tells Wake's literary agent, Barry Wheeler, to make some calls and give the code phrase "Night Springs." Apparently, that was Sarah's way of notifying people close to the Bureau of what was happening--specifically her father, Frank, who Control reveals to be a retired FBC agent.
According to the FBC, Cauldron Lake, where the Dark Place resides in Alan Wake and the place from which Alan's power to rewrite reality comes, is a Threshold. These are locations where dimensions bleed together, and we see in a few places in Control.
The documents say the FBC investigated Cauldron Lake more than once in the 1970s, and the years mentioned seem to line up with other events. In Alan Wake, poet Thomas Zane discovered the Dark Presence, the game's antagonist, in the 1970s, and wrote the story that would lay the groundwork for Alan's arrival in Bright Falls. More on Zane later.
The Bureau also notes that Alan's power to rewrite reality was isolated to Bright Falls and limited in how long it lasted--but given the events of Alan Wake and the far-reaching effects of Zane's and Alan's writing (especially with Alan showing up elsewhere in Alan Wake's American Nightmare), it seems like the Bureau doesn't understand quite how big of a deal the Bright Falls Threshold actually is.
In the meantime, the Bureau left a monitoring station in Bright Falls to watch for additional AWE activity. That might be the group Barry notifies with the Night Springs codeword--the list Sheriff Breaker gives him to call includes a number of people in the town.
Alan Was A Prime Candidate For FBC Director
The FBC has quite a bit of information on Alan as a person, tracking his movements and capabilities, and specifically his ability to shape reality through his writing. The Bureau never found Alan, however--we know from the events of Alan Wake that he gave himself to the Dark Place in exchange for the release of his wife, Alice. The Bureau seems to think that Alan is a person with paranatural abilities, someone who can control Objects of Power and Altered Items. According to the other documents, they have a file on his potential as a Prime Candidate for a new Director, just like Jesse and Dylan Faden.
We know from Alan Wake the game that Thomas Zane, the poet who originally encountered the reality-shifting power of Cauldron Lake, used that power to write Alan into existence--or at the very least, to guide him to defeat the Dark Presence. That could mean that Alan himself is some kind of interdimensional being or an Object of Power; the concept tracks with the Bureau treating the objects as being alive. Another read on the situation is that Zane was Alan's father, who left the family before the events of Cauldron Lake. The FBC also considers the Clicker, the weapon Zane created with Cauldron Lake's power to help Alan defeat the Dark Presence, an Object of Power that Alan was able to use, much like a Director candidate would.
Dylan Mentions The Events Of Alan Wake And His Books
In Alan Wake, Alan is a famous and well-known author, with his biggest claim to fame being his series of novels starring a police officer named Alex Casey. Dylan alludes to both Alan and Casey during one of his conversations with Jesse, in which Dylan talks about his dreams. In one dream, Dylan describes Mr. Door, an entity that can travel between alternate dimensions. Dylan describes Alan as being from one of those realities, but also notes that in another reality, the cop is real. Alex Casey sounds a lot like another Remedy game protagonist: Max Payne. Dylan mentions on another occasion that he dreamed Jesse was in a game; the Board also breaks the fourth wall briefly to allude to Jesse being in a video game. So it seems very possible that Dylan is literally talking about not just Remedy's other stories, but literally their other games. Alan Wake seems to directly share Control's universe, but Max Payne and Quantum Break can also be considered other dimensions that might intersect with Control too. Which brings us to...
Alan Wake TV Show Night Springs Is Under Bureau Control
... Night Springs, the creepy Twilight Zone-like TV show that appears in Alan Wake. In fact, Alan wrote for the show early in his career. In the "Television Proposal" document, we find out that the Bureau uses Night Springs to test out the idea of letting the public in on certain "paranatural concepts." The existence of Night Springs is another link between Alan Wake and Control, but it also ties in Quantum Break--you can find episodes of Night Springs in that game, too.
The Bureau Has One Of Alan's Manuscript Pages And It Reveals His Fate
Manuscript Pages are key to the events of Alan Wake--the pages actually change reality in the game, making them essential to the plot of the story. Though the Bureau didn't find Alan in Bright Falls after the events of Alan Wake, they did eventually find one of his Manuscript Pages in the Oceanview Motel and Casino. You can find the page hidden in the Panopticon. Approach it and you'll see a Hotline-like message from Alan himself, in which he reads the text of the page (you'll find it transcribed in another document).
On the page, Alan reveals that he's still trapped in the Dark Place, 10 years after the events of Alan Wake. That's where we last saw him in the Alan Wake DLC and in Alan Wake's American Nightmare--he's unable to break himself free of his own nightmares, and he's continually remaking the reality around him, so he's never sure if he's actually escaping or still just caught in the fantasy.
The Bright Falls AWE report also mentions that FBI Agent Robert Nightingale and Dr. Emil Hartman, two Alan Wake characters who seem to be nabbed by the Dark Presence, are still missing.
Alan Calls The Hotline
Approach the Typewritten Page and you'll see what could be its effects--the actual rewriting of reality. Finding the page in the Panopticon triggers a Hotline message from Alan. He doesn't present any new information, unfortunately; rather, he just reads the text of the page. But this seems like actual contact between Jesse and Alan of the same form as Jesse's interactions with Trench or the Board.
Ordinary Is Also Tied To Alan Wake
Originally, the town of Ordinary, from which Jesse and Dylan Faden hail and where the Ordinary AWE took place, was supposed to be the setting of Alan Wake 2. The location was set up in the Alan Wake ARG "This House of Dreams" as being related to Thomas Zane, and the town is mentioned in a hidden message that's part of a song by the Old Gods of Asgard (more on them in a second) in Alan Wake's American Nightmare. Ordinary also gets a mention in Quantum Break, placing it in Maine.
The connection suggests that the Dark Place might be a dimension accessible through the Slide Projector. You could even go a step further and draw a line between the Darkness and the Hiss--both of which act similarly, possessing people's bodies and saying spooky things. There's also a lot of similarity between the Bright Presence in Alan Wake and Polaris, the entity that guides and protects Jesse--which she named after the North Star.
And in one of her recorded therapy sessions, Jesse mentions a poem by Thomas Zane. The therapist tells her that no such poet exists, but we know Zane was the first person to encounter the Dark Presence in the Cauldron Lake Threshold. He wrote himself and the evidence of what happened to him out of existence to fight the Dark Presence, causing most people to forget him--but for some reason, Jesse is capable of remembering him when other people apparently can't.
Thomas Zane's Shoebox Is Missing From The Bureau
In Alan Wake, Zane leaves behind the Clicker in a shoebox for Alan to find, and it turns out, that shoebox is important. Though Zane used the reality-altering power of Cauldron Lake to destroy all evidence of himself and the Dark Presence, he created a contingency, writing that anything he left behind in a shoebox would be protected from the power and still exist. Evidence of Zane is later discovered in Ordinary, as detailed in the "This House of Dreams" blog. A woman named Samantha Wells details on the blog how she discovers photos and poems of Zane's in a shoebox in her attic. Apparently, the Bureau later obtained the shoebox after becoming aware of the blog.
Reddit user Kia001 discovered a whiteboard in Central Research that details the Bureau's tests on the shoebox, which at least one researcher believed to be an Altered Item. They discovered something strange, though--they experienced an Altered World Event in the lab, which affected everything but the shoebox. They also replicated the tests with more than just one particular shoebox. That might explain why Zane's shoeboxes show up in multiple locations, like in Ordinary, and also suggests that either Zane or Alan are continuing to influence the rest of the world from within the Dark Place. Perhaps most interestingly, the whiteboard suggests that Zane's shoebox has gone missing.
The Old Gods of Asgard Send A Message
Alan Wake features Tor and Odin Anderson, two old rockers who make up a band known as the Old Gods of Asgard. You can find one of their album covers in Control, which causes Jesse to remark that she's a big fan. In Alan Wake, the Andersons gained the power of Cauldron Lake by drinking its water in the form of the moonshine they made--and their songs give Alan clues about what to do.
Control has a similar instance of the Old Gods helping out the protagonist. Jesse listens to "Take Control," an Old Gods of Asgard song that talks about the Oldest House and helps her navigate the Ashtray Maze. She hears the song on Ahti's Walkman, and he mentions that the song is by a couple of his friends. There's also a hidden message in the song: if you listen, you can hear someone speaking between verses, but the audio has been reversed. Here's what we're hearing in the message (others have speculated what it all means on Reddit):
"In their drunken fevered state, seeing double, profoundly, the pyramid in the stolen file becomes a spruce tree."
"The diamond will tell you where 1-19-7-1-18-4-9-19 (an A1Z26 cipher that translates to 'Asgard is')."
"Then from the pillar star (or start?) and rushing on to the red room, find the cord to take you to a secret rendezvous."
Could that be a secret rendezvous with Alan himself?
The Olds Gods And The Poets
The Old Gods' songs are actually played by a real band called the Poets of the Fall (who are friends of Remedy's), and interestingly, they also exist in the world of Control, separately from the Old Gods of Asgard. You can find a room in the Research Division that talks about the Poets' song "My Dark Disquiet," which apparently has some paranatural powers over people who listen to it.
The Bureau Also Has One of Alan's Thermoses
There are 100 collectible coffee thermoses scattered throughout Alan Wake, all of which come from the Oh Deer Diner in Bright Falls. The FBC has one of the thermoses in the Panopticon (near Alan's Manuscript Page), which it considers to be an Altered Item, according to a document about it.
The thermos doesn't have a gameplay applications in Alan Wake, and the FBC file notes that, while strange, the thermos doesn't exhibit any effects as an altered item. It does, however, keep liquids warm for a surprisingly long period of time, and "the coffee from the thermos is always refreshing and strong, no matter the quality before being poured into the item."
Alan Is Still Trapped In The Dark Place--But Maybe Not For Long
Taking all this together, we can say pretty definitively that Alan has been trapped in the Dark Place ever since the events of the Alan Wake games--10 long years. Most of what's in Control adds greater context to the situation: what happened to Alan is the kind of thing the FBC specializes in, and the Dark Presence seems very similar to the Hiss and other entities you encounter in Control.
The question of how much influence Alan Wake has on Control is a big one, though. With the latest trailer for the next installment of Control's DLC, AWE, we know for sure that Alan is going to be a part of the story. What we have no idea about yet, however, is what is role in Control will wind up being.
Here's a potential bombshell: What if Control is a story Alan is writing to get himself out of the Dark Place?