If, like me, you don’t necessarily have the time to replay earlier games in a series before a highly anticipated sequel comes out to rediscover the story, searching around for a more time-friendly and easily digestible recap of the narrative is often preferable. With that in mind and with Alan Wake 2 already proving to be one of the most interesting sequels we’ve seen in a good while, here’s a story primer to get you ready for the return of gaming’s most troubled author.
Alan Wake – The Story So Far
Seemingly afflicted with an extended bout of writer’s block (aren’t we all, eh?), Alan Wake kicks off with our titular protagonist taking the sagely advice of his agent, Barry Wheeler, to pack it all in for a bit and visit the seemingly quaint mountain town of Bright Falls, Washington, with his wife Alice. Prior to his arrival however, Alan suffers a horrifying nightmare where a group of murky looking figures attempt to end his life. Thankfully, salvation comes in the form of a mysterious figure that invades the nightmare and provides Alan with a means to fight back against these dark apparitions – a trusty flashlight that allows Alan to strip away their darkened shrouds and lay waste to their physical forms with conventional weaponry.
Once Alan finally touches down in the Twin Peaks-esque Bright Falls, he takes a short trip to the local diner to meet with the landlord of his cabin, Carl Stucky, in order to retrieve the keys to his seemingly charming holiday home. Surprisingly, rather than Señor Stucky being present and accounted for, Alan instead runs into a distinctly creepy older woman who quickly spins him a yarn about Stucky being under the weather and thus by proxy, reveals she has apparently been trusted with the cabin keys before handing them over to Alan and Alice.
As it turns out, the cabin that this old lass directs the couple toward just happens to be in the middle of Cauldron Lake – an expanse of water that has come to form in the depths of a volcanic crater. All good omens so far then. Just as the Wakes are making themselves at home, Alice lets it slip that the main reason why they’ve taken this vacation to Bright Falls in the first place is to cure Alan of his writer’s block. Resolutely miffed by this revelation and the resultant bruising of an already bruised ego, Alan marches out of the cabin but then charges back in again when he hears Alice screaming for aid, only to see her pulled down into the murky waters of the lake by a dark presence. Distraught, Alan decides to hop into the drink after her, only to blackout as he sinks into the murky depths.
Regaining consciousness in his car, which he had seemingly driven off the road without having any memory of how he ended up there, Alan makes for a gas station that is closeby, only to be attacked by the same sort of dark, ethereal figures that attempted to murder him in his earlier nightmare. After he overcomes these enemies, the mysterious figure from that nightmare returns once more, this time leaving behind pages of ‘Departure’, a manuscript written by Alan that he predictably has no memory of writing. Essentially chronicling the events yet to come and revealing that not only are the darkness-shrouded enemies known as the ‘Taken’, but they’re also actually the good townsfolk of Bright Falls that have been possessed by an unseen evil to boot.
Sadly having to put a wretchedly possessed Carl Stucky into the dirt after reaching the gas station, Alan then reaches out to Sheriff Sarah Breaker regarding Alice’s disappearance. The kicker however, is that only does the good sheriff inform Alan that neither the cabin, nor the island that it sat upon exist any longer, but she also believes him to be a mental health risk and so takes him to the nearby police station just as Alan’s agent, Barry Wheeler, arrives in Bright Falls.
During his time at the police station, Alan receives a call from an individual who claims to be Alice’s kidnapper and somewhat cryptically, the kidnapper wants all of the pages from Departure in exchange for Alice. After tracking them down to a park closeby and engaging in a scrap that sees the kidnapper flee the scene, Alan regroups with Barry to track down more pages of Departure, alerting FBI agent Robert Nightingale to their activities in the process. Once all of the pages have been collected, Alan tracks down the kidnapper to trade all of the pages for Alice – only to stumble upon the mysterious old woman from earlier torturing the kidnapper into admitting that he never took Alice hostage. Before Alan can react, a massive tornado emerges out of nowhere, catapulting Alan into the depths of Cauldron Lake.
Awakening in a nearby lodge, Alan finds he is under the care of Emil Hartman, a psychiatrist who tells Alan he is going through a psychotic break brought about by the trauma of Alice’s disappearance. As a horde of Taken attack the lodge, Alan begins to make his escape, discovering that the kidnapper was a ruse used by Hartman to bring Alan to his lodge. After escaping the lodge and observing the shadow shroud consume the entire structure behind them, Alan and Barry start to uncover the truth of Cauldron Lake from the cowed denizens of Bright Falls.
Chiefly, the duo discover that an unseen horror which goes by the moniker of the ‘Dark Presence’ is locked within the deep watery expanse of the lake, leveraging the ancient powers of the lake to merge reality and fiction into one. As it turns out, the last time the Dark Presence did this it afflicted Thomas Zane, an old poet that just happened to be the mysterious figure that helped out Alan earlier on during his first nightmare, showing him how to destroy the Taken in the process. Furthermore, it’s also revealed that the old woman which Alan met at the local diner, was actually the Dark Presence taking on the appearance of Barbara Jagger, the wife of Thomas Zane who had drowned in the lake many years before.
Realising that history is repeating itself with the Dark Presence leveraging Alice to coerce Alan into the lake so that he can essentially use his writing abilities to blur fiction and reality yet further still, Alan and Barry set out to confront the Dark Presence. However at this point, the ever-persistent Agent Nightingale has caught up with them and promptly arrests the pair, only for the Taken to attack the police station and drag the hapless agent into the grim darkness.
After meeting up with Sheriff Breaker, who has seen enough of this insanity to be properly on board with the whole thing, Alan and Barry are pointed in the direction of a hermit who was an acquaintance of Thomas Zane and has long been preparing for the return of the Dark Presence. A big part of that preparation is a place known as the ‘Well-Lit Room’ – an ethereal area into which the ‘Clicker’ is embedded. An immensely powerful light switch that can channel the power of Alan’s scribble power to wreck the Dark Presence, Alan takes the Clicker and then quickly dives into the depths of Cauldron Lake by himself.
Finding himself seemingly trapped in an extra-dimensional plane of existence known as the ‘Dark Place’, Alan quickly realises that mere thoughts can be made real in this dimension and so after confronting Barbara Jagger, ruins her completely with the Clicker and seemingly expels the influence of the Dark Presence in the process. The stinger of course, is that in order to keep a semblance of balance in the story, Alan must sacrifice himself by finishing the final pages of Departure, stranding himself in the Dark Place while his wife Alice goes free in the waking world.
Trapped in the Dark Place, Alan soon realises that he is the cause of his current predicament and must reconcile the many elements of his now shattered persona in order to use the power of his writings to free himself. In doing so, Alan returns to his typewriter and begins feverishly typing away on an all-new story titled ‘Return’.
Alan Wake II – A Synopsis
Unfolding some thirteen years after Alan Wake was reported missing, FBI Agent Saga Anderson is tasked with visiting Bright Falls to investigate a spate of occult murders that have been reported in the town. Upon arriving, she soon finds herself drawn into a terrifying story of seemingly endless horrors that Alan has written in order to engineer his escape from the Dark Place. In Alan Wake II players will control both Saga Anderson and Alan Wake as the two sides of their very different stories converge.
Now you should be ready to catch up with our missing author and discover the true mysteries that lurk beneath the surface of the world. Head over to the Green Man Gaming store and pick up Alan Wake II for PC today.