Picking up 13 in-game years after the original, the survival-horror game follows the parallel journeys of FBI agent Saga Anderson and writer Alan Wake as they fend off a slew of horrors that blur the line between reality and fiction. Aside from continuing the story that first began in 2010’s Alan Wake, Alan Wake 2 is also the latest installment in the Remedy Connected Universe: a shared continuity of stories that includes both Alan Wake games and the 2019 supernatural action game Control.
Alan Wake 2 feels as much like a sequel to Control as it does to the original Alan Wake, with various references and cameos that call back to the adventures of the Oldest House and Jesse Faden’s battle against the preternatural entity known as the Hiss. Because of this connection, several of the biggest twists and turns in Alan Wake 2 not only foreshadow the future struggles of Alan and Saga, but hint at the increased stakes and scope of Control 2 as well. Even more interesting is that the (arguably) most consequential twist in Alan Wake 2 was already foreshadowed all the way back in Control.
[Ed. note: Spoilers follow for Alan Wake 2 and Control.]
Alan Wake 2 opens with FBI profiler Saga Anderson and her partner, Alex Casey, en route to the Pacific Northwest town of Bright Falls, Washington, in order to investigate the latest in a series of mysterious disappearances and murders seemingly linked to a criminal organization known as the Cult of the Tree. Shortly after arriving, Anderson and Casey stumble upon a series of manuscript pages that eerily predict the future, and also appear to have been written by Alan Wake, who disappeared in the proximity of Cauldron Lake over a decade prior. (Time in the Remedy Connected Universe progresses simultaneously with the real world.)
Saga’s investigation leads her to Watery, a fishing town neighboring Bright Falls that’s home to both a coffee-themed amusement park and a trailer park. While tracking down the cult’s last known whereabouts, Saga comes across pages of the manuscript that suggest that both she and her partner have been written into a horror story that is slowly coming to life.
Upon arriving at the Lighthouse trailer park, Saga realizes the terrible truth: The horror story whose manuscript pages she has been collecting are in fact gradually warping reality itself. Some effects: the apparent death of her daughter Logan; her divorce from her husband; and her role as the protagonist in this nightmarish story. With no other recourse, Saga makes it her mission to find the Clicker — a so-called “Object of Power” that allowed Alan to defeat the Dark Presence during the events of the first game. Saga wants to bring it to him in the hopes that he can rewrite the story and bring her daughter back to life.
This is arguably the most dramatic turning point in Alan Wake 2’s story. It frames the stakes of the plot on both a personal and existential level. What’s even more fascinating, however, is the way this twist ties back to a small yet important moment in Control.
In the seventh story mission of Control, “The Face of the Enemy,” Jesse Faden is sent to explore the Containment Sector of the Oldest House in order to find the Slide Projector which allowed the Hiss to invade the building through an interdimensional doorway. While exploring the sector, she comes across a surveillance recording of herself talking to a psychiatrist about the disappearance of her brother Dylan and a line from a poem by one of her favorite poets, Thomas Zane. Said poet also appeared in the first Alan Wake — he aided Alan in his fight against the Dark Presence, despite being trapped himself in the Dark Place beneath Cauldron Lake. Jesse is told by her psychiatrist that there is no such poet by the name of Thomas Zane, but rather, a European filmmaker who immigrated to America in the ‘60s.
In case you’re a bit confused right now, don’t worry; you’re not misremembering things. Jesse is right! The character of Thomas Zane was a poet in the original Alan Wake. The reason why the rest of the world, including her psychiatrist, believes that Zane was a filmmaker instead is because of the effects of Alan’s horror story, which he has been writing on-and-off in his attempt to escape the Dark Place since 2010. Like Saga, Jesse is one of a handful of characters who can remember details about the version of the world before Alan’s horror story began to warp reality.
While it is never explicitly stated, it’s heavily implied that the reason Saga and Jesse are unaffected by the reality-skewing effects of Alan’s horror story is because they are both “parautilitarians.” These are individuals capable of wielding supernatural powers, typically, though not exclusively, through the act of binding themselves to “Altered Items” known as “Objects of Power.” Saga is the granddaughter and great niece of Tor and Odin Anderson, two longtime Bright Falls residents and former members of the rock band Old Gods of Asgard. Saga’s “Mind Place,” along with her ability to see into the minds of others and form uncanny deductions through profiling suspects, is a supernatural ability that she inherited from her mother, Freya Anderson. It’s also possible she inherited it from her father, who is implied to be the mysterious entity Warlin Door.
What does this have to do with Control 2? A whole lot, potentially. As Saga learns in Alan Wake 2, Altered World Events — events in which paranormal forces intrude upon reality, most often through the misuse or corruption of an Altered Item — are primarily localized events that the Federal Bureau of Control resolves through the containment of said Altered Item. The fact that the Altered World Event (AWE) of Alan’s horror story is not confined to the immediate vicinity of Bright Falls, as evidenced by the recording of Jesse’s conversation with her psychiatrist and that Saga’s now ex-husband in Virginia believes that Logan is dead, suggests that Saga and the Federal Bureau of Control are dealing with an AWE that is unprecedented in its scope and severity. The connections run even deeper: Certain collectible items and manuscript pages in the “AWE” DLC of Control imply that Alan Wake himself wrote the Federal Bureau of Control (FBC) and the threat of the Hiss into existence. He did so by writing his horror story near Cauldron Lake, from which the Dark Presence can bring art to life.
As revealed in Alan Wake 2, the headquarters of the FBC, known as the Oldest House, has been closed off from all other branches of the agency in the wake of an undisclosed “internal emergency.” This is a reference to the events of Control, which canonically take place in October of 2019. The Oldest House was still under lockdown at the end of the aforementioned DLC, which means that Jesse Faden has been separated from the rest of the bureau for over four years. As of this writing, we still don’t know when Control 2 is set to come out, or what state Jesse will be in once it does. But going off of the first piece of concept art released alongside the announcement of the game’s development, it’s likely that the events of Alan Wake 2 will have tremendous consequences on Jesse’s tenure as the newly-christened director of the FBC, and the threat of the Hiss on the rest of the world.