Control’s Many Explicit Connections to Alan Wake
Control contains many references to the events of Alan Wake, and even sheds light on the ending and Wake's current status.
Alan Wake is a very beloved game, not only by its fans but by its developers Remedy Entertainment as well. Alan Wake was temporarily delisted from digital storefronts due to a license expiring in 2017, but was able to restore the game thanks to help from publisher Microsoft in October 2018. It was also free on the Epic Games Store and Remedy obtained publishing rights for Alan Wake in July of this year.
While a TV show is in development with Remedy and Contradiction Films, the developer also wants to let you know they aren’t quite done with Alan Wake through various collectibles in their latest game, Control.
Spoilers for Alan Wake and hidden sections of Control lie ahead. For those who want to find these things on your own, do not read further.
Control centers on the Federal Bureau of Control, a clandestine portion of the government that rounds up and contains various supernatural items and events for the safety of the masses. Jesse Faden enters their headquarters in the midst of a hostile invasion by the Hiss and becomes the new Director, required to solve the Hiss threat while also learning about this highly secretive organization at the same time. Throughout the game, you’ll come across various reports, supplemental documents, letters, and FMV videos explaining the many facets of this world.
One key feature is Altered World Events, essentially points where humanity’s collective unconscious creates a crossover for the Astral Plane, and other planes of reality, into our world. The events of Cauldron Lake and Bright Falls are referred to as an Altered World Event, where “a fictional story written by the author Alan Wake…in which reality was altered to match that of the story, though only locally and for a limited time.” This pretty much sums up the events of Alan Wake, and the Bright Falls Summary report names multiple characters from the game such as Barry Wheeler, Sarah Breaker, Thomas Zane, and Odin and Tor Anderson. The Anderson brothers’ band Old Gods of Asgard even have another single within the world of Control: “Take Control,” which plays during a key sequence of the campaign within the Ashtray Maze.
The light switch, a gift from Alan Wake’s mother, is speculated to have been an Object of Power. Zane’s nonexistence is also connected directly to Jesse, as in one of her therapy tapes she recites a poem by him, but the therapist claims he doesn’t exist.
In the aftermath of the AWE, Alice Wake was found though traumatized and that both Special Agent Robert Nightingale and Dr. Emil Harman are both missing. Due to Wake’s abilities during the event, he was flagged as a potential parautilitarian, and a prime candidate for the position of Director, though due to his missing status, was cast aside in favor of Dylan Faden, and later Jesse.
Clay Steward, who appears in American Nightmare and wrote “The Alan Wake Files” is mentioned as well, with him being, “placed under indefinite surveillance.” A cheeky reference is thrown in for the collectible coffee thermoses in Alan Wake, as one appears as a potential altered item, though its only effects are that it “[keeps] liquid warm for surprisingly long periods of time.” and, “the coffee from the thermos is always refreshing and strong, no matter its quality before being poured into the item.” The last sentence references its collectible nature as Wake is noted to have been collecting them but for a “[redacted] purpose.”
One of the most interesting connections is a Typewritten Page Supplement you find while within the Oceanview Motel and Casino during a late game segment that gets pushed out from under a locked door. It describes an altered item that definitely came from Wake post-ending.
“For ten years I’ve tried to write my escape, only sinking deeper. I used to know where fiction ends and reality begins. Here, they are all the same. It’s a hideous trap, my every thought made real. Fear. Desire. How can I ever know for sure I’ve escaped and not just lost in my own fantasy of it? That thought alone can drive you mad.”
The final sentence is “You’ve been warned.” according to the supplement, boding that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Wake or the Dark Place that has held him for the past decade. The containment location is Panopticon – Floor 05, Unit 06, which leads you to a hidden location where approaching the window to the Typewritten Page will cause an overlay of Wake reciting the text. Nearby is the containment procedure for the Typewritten Page that notes water damage and only the top lines being legible. It comes from Wake using the same typewriter that all the pages of Departure were written on during the events of Alan Wake. In Unit 05 you can also see the thermos, though nothing happens.
Lastly are a few references to Night Springs, the television program that would periodically appear during your playthrough of Alan Wake, six episodes in all, and were riffs on The Twilight Zone. A Television Proposal in-game wants to purchase the Night Springs license in order to reboot it as a testing grounds for presenting reality as fiction to the public and observing their reactions. Night Springs is said to have, “been off the air for a few years now.” Though not named explicitly, another report called Urban Legends states that, “We have additionally proven that urban legends can even be artificially [redacted] in popular culture using [redacted] (our Bureau-made anthology television program).”
There are many more references to Alan Wake than I ever expected, and it shows that Remedy has it prominently on its mind and is not quite done with it yet, despite the cancellation of Alan Wake 2 many years ago. It also helps to have Dr. Casper Darling played by Matthew Porretta (aka Alan Wake), in a prominent role and appearing in multiple pieces of FMV, including a few that show they had a fun time making this game and are still among the best at using FMV in games.
As a big fan of Alan Wake, it was really nice to come across so many explicit references to that game in Control. I don’t think this is a call for the Remedy extended universe as that concept has severely worn out its welcome, but it definitely has me aching for a replay of Alan Wake and reignited hope for a follow-up, whether in game form or television.