Fridge / Alan Wake

Fridge Brilliance

  • The game is full of symbolism. The Dark vs Light is just another way of saying Chaos vs Order, Subjective vs Objective. The shadows represent uncertainty, like how the dark can twist the things you see at night. Is it a chair or a monster? While the light solidify things. Alan as a writer can move between those two contrasts, giving shapes to chaos.
  • Say "Barbara Jagger" with a Finnish accent. You get something that sounds a lot like Baba Yaga. Where does she send Alan? To Bird's Leg Cabin. What do Tor and Odin call her? "The witch". Where is the cabin? Cauldron Lake.
  • Why is American Nightmare an action story, different from the survival horror of the first game? Alan is writing his own story, and he normally writes pulp action, not horror. Alan is now in full control of his story.
  • The amorphous malevolence which harries Alan throughout the plot with neigh-limitless power to form and control the world he is fighting through, is a Lake.
  • See the below Fridge Horror about free will. Consider also the resemblance of the blobs (and for the matter most manifestations of the Dark Presence) to... ink. What's Alan's profession again and what's the basic premise of the story?
  • The "Quantum Suicide" episode of Night Springs suggests that when you die and reload your save, you're just switching to an alternate universe where you didn't die that moment.
    • From various POVs, it can be seen as Alan re-writing the initial manuscript, the idea of a narrative universe having alternatives, or what have you. And given how that episode ends, that too can be taken as a interpretation of the Xbox 360 itself. It is the magic box that keeps the protagonist alive... until you pull the plug (turn off the power). When you turn on the power again... that's just another universe.
    • Alternatively, but basically the same idea, dying could be explained as Alan giving into the Dark Presence and killing off himself while writing the manuscript, losing all hope for his wife and the end of the Presence. He then scraps the page, having no way to delete characters with a typewriter, meaning checkpoints are just ends of pages in the manuscript.
  • Odin and Tor help you escape. Now, back in Max Payne, there were heavy Norse themes and included a character also named Odin (well, Wodan but it's just a different transliteration) who helps Max out. See also the Take That below.
    • Also, the manuscript implies that they know about the Dark Presence and and have fought it before. That would explain why they built that massive stage on their farm as well as why their farm was stocked with enough weapons and supplies to equip a small army.
    • While we're on the topic of the battle on the stage, fighting off a hoard of monsters on stage while music blares like that doesn't make sense in a horror story, but would make perfect sense in a metal song. A metal song such as the kind that Tor and Odin would've written near a certain lake. Another song we know they wrote is Lady of the Light, which also turned out to be true to a point.
      • Okay, knowing this, let's now look at the lyrics of the two songs we hear of theirs in game:
        Warriors, torchbearers, come redeem our dreams
        Shine a light upon this night of otherworldly fiends
        Odin's might be your guide, divorce you from the sane
        Hammer's way will have its say, rise up in their name
        Oh, Memory and Thought
        Jet black and clawed
        Children of the Elder God
        Scourge of light upon the dark
        Scratching hag, you can rake your claws and gnash your crooked teeth
        You've taken slaves like ocean waves, now feel the ocean seethe
        Father Thor, bless this war, between the dark and light
        In their songs let their wrongs bring dissolution's night
        Oh, Memory and Thought
        Jet black and clawed
        Children of the Elder God
        Scourge of light upon the dark

        There's an old tale wrought with mystery, of Tom the Poet and his muse
        And a magic lake which gave a life to the words the poet used
        Now, the muse she was his happiness, and he rhymed about her grace
        And told her stories of treasures deep beneath the blackened waves
        Till in the stillness of one dawn, still in its misty crown
        The muse she went down to the lake, and in the waves she drowned
        And now to see your love set free
        You will need the witch's cabin key
        Find the lady of the light, gone mad with the night
        That's how you reshape destiny
        The poet came down to the lake to call out to his dear
        When there was no answer he was overcome with fear
        He searched in vain for his treasure lost and too soon the night would fall
        Only his own echo would wail back at his call
        And when he swore to bring back his love by stories he'd create
        Nightmares shifted in their sleep in the darkness of the lake
        And now to see your love set free
        You will need the witch's cabin key
        Find the lady of the light, still raving in the night
        That's how you reshape destiny
        In the dead of night she came to him with darkness in her eyes
        Wearing a mourning gown, sweet words as her disguise
        He took her in without a word for he saw his grave mistake
        And vowed them both to silence deep beneath the lake
        Now, if it's real or just a dream one mystery remains
        For it is said, on moonless nights they may still haunt this place

      • I could be here for hours going over it all, but suffice to say, both songs came true. Every word of them. The latter was a sotry of a forgotten past, the former a prophecy.
  • If you ask why the Taken don't just take out the transformers so they can assault the power plant, try leading one into the hanging or horizontal wires you've seen.
  • Ok, Alan Wake is a writer, so how do they explain how good of a shot he is? He mentions that he's 'never fired a gun outside a range before', so, he's clearly handled guns. Plus, he uses the flashlight as a crosshair, which is the player's crosshair too, besides, he has probably handled a good amount of guns to know how they work in his Alex Casey books. Along with that, people can adapt quickly to their current situation, so Alan's almost improbably aim could be him using his experience and survival instrincts to make sure he doesn't miss. Unless the player misses.
  • The Sudden Stop opens with the sentence "It's true what they say about the fall and the sudden stop at the end." It's mentioned elsewhere in this article that Alex Casey is an Expy for Max Payne, and killing off Alex is Sam Lake's way of considering Max Payne 3 a Franchise Zombie. So what the page is saying is "It's not Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne that'll kill him, it's the sudden stop of Max Payne 3."
  • The messages 'The Darkness controls the taken' as well as 'The Darkness wears her face', among others that explain things like how to kill the taken are spread evenly throughout the game. This is despite the fact that the player has long learned most or all of these things— many in the tutorial no less. The reason? Cynthia had no way of knowing where the battle with the darkness would start, so she instead placed the caches and messages everywhere. Overlaps with Crazy-Prepared.
  • Alan's Captain Obvious moments make a lot more sense if you realize that they're the narration of the book he wrote while trapped in Cauldron Lake.
  • Why are there coffee thermoses scattered around, some even being in obscure areas? They were left there for Alan if he needed re-energizing to stay up through the night!
    • And while they don't do much in-game, they could more or less be a reference to Twin Peaks, considering that Alan is probably living within our real world, where Twin Peaks exist.
  • A bolt of lightning saves Barry and gets the Anderson's stage running. Now what is Thor god of?
    • The protection of humanity, oak trees, destruction, and fertility!
      • The rockers, being questionable scholars, call him the god of thunder at one point. It's likely their knowledge of Thor is from Marvel comics as much as any books on mythology.
      • It's not even questionable scholarship; Thor is legitimately associated with thunder and lightning, along with a ton of other stuff nobody outside of Norse lore fanboys remember. If anything, it might be a sign of the brothers being *good* scholars, especially given the Lightning, Thunder, Destruction, and Protection of Humanity bits.....
    • That lightning bolt could be the line "Father Thor, bless this war between the dark and light." from "Children of the Elder God" coming true.
  • If the Dark Presence can take over things, why doesn't it just crack open the ground or other such things (Lawful Evil restrictions not withstanding)? After all, it possess objects all the time. Because it works on living beings or the creative output of living beings such as the technology they use (a sort of minor variant on how it can use the creative power of artists). Why then a tornado? It's not a tornado of air, it's a tornado of pollution!
    • The Darkness is also only gathering its power. It's at its strongest at the end of the game and isn't trying to kill Alan for the majority of the game. By the time the end of the game occurs, Alan has already literally written it into a corner.
  • Thomas Zane's avatar is a man in a space/diving suit. The last song of the game? Space Oddity, a song about an astronaut who is lost to oblivion by a mistake during his mission, named Major Tom. Holy crap!
    • That song came out the year before Tom's disappearance. Perhaps Bowie got a little inspiration at Cauldron Lake.
  • How come no one in Bright Falls noticed countless people going missing and all the chaos and destruction caused by the battle between Alan and the Taken? Because while writing Departure, Alan didn't write them noticing it and carrying on as normal. They couldn't notice it until Alan's narrative let them notice it. They're just as bound to the letter of the novel as the Dark Presence.
    • The game's action sequences also take place over the course of one or two nights. It's quite possible that, after Deerfest, everyone will notice the place looks like the Apocalypse happened.
      • Alternatively, the Dark Presence is keeping them from noticing.
  • The Dark Presence's Taken and Poltergeists are vulnerable to light because Tor and Odin wrote that they would be vulnerable to light in "Children of the Elder God."
  • A meta-Fridge, but why Poets of the Fall, a Finnish band, for the sound track? Because despite the fact that Max Payne and Alan Wake are perhaps iconic American games... Remedy (the developers) are actually a Finnish company.
    • Also, the lead singer, Marko Saaresto, is a friend of Alan Wake's writer, Sam Lake.
  • Take a look at Imaginary Barry near the end of The Writer. One will notice that he's not wearing his Christmas lights any longer. Thus marking the transition from good guy to bad guy as the light (even if the light itself is imaginary) no longer protects his imaginary existence from the manipulation of the Dark Presence.
  • A lot of the gameplay contrivances can be explained by A Wizard Did It. How is Alan able to cast magic missile into the darkness, so to speak, with a standard household flashlight? The Light Presence empowered him. Why do flares and batteries have much shorter effective lives than they should? The Dark Presence. Why don't he and Barry die or suffer any significant effects from injesting a massive dose of sleeping pills? The Light Presence protected them. Why didn't they taste something funny in the first place? Ol' DP. And so on.
    • There's another force at work. Alan Wake is a crime writer writing outside his genre, and is just coming out of a two-year case of writer's block. And he's living through his own writings. For once, the fact that the writer is a complete hack is a valid in-universe explanation.
    • It gets better. Not only is the writer a complete hack (or at least fears that he might be), his editor is a Made of Evil Humanoid Abomination who wants to use the power of Self-Insert Fic to turn herself into a God-Mode Sue, perhaps literally. The wonder isn't that the story has some less-than-impressive elements; the wonder is that it turned out as well as it did.
  • Doctor Hartman considers video games to be "trash" because the process of developing video games generally involves a large development team - something which he can't really work with in his tiny lodge/clinic. Not to mention a development staff of a half-dozen to hundreds of people would be much harder for him to control and turn to developing something he can use to his own ends using Cauldron Lake. Not to mention it would be hard for him to get enough mentally-unstable game developers with the right skills and equipment together, especially considering he has trouble simply keeping a lid on two demented old men like the Andersons.
  • Alan's health meter isn't his physical well being, but his psyche. When it runs out, he's weak enough for the Dark Presence to take him. The Taken's weapons aren't exactly physically "real" anyway. Remember, the DP says it's trying to recapture Alan, not kill him. So his apparent "deaths"...aren't.
    • Pay close attention to the weapons being used by the Taken. They're covered in the darkness just like the Taken, and disappear once the Taken is killed or they've been thrown. This may also explain why the Taken can keep chucking axes and knives and hammers at Alan over and over again.
    • This also explains why standing in Safe Havens replenishes his health: he's thinking, "I'm in the middle of a spot of bright light, they can't hurt me." Smaller lights, on the other hand, don't restore health because they're not as reliable or safe.
    • Why aren't Alan's clothes or body visibly damaged by the Taken's attacks? Because they're damaging his soul, not his physical wellbeing.
  • Why don't the Taken use guns? Muzzle flash.
    • Jossed by American Nightmare. Taken are dumbasses and guns are too complex for them to use. Besides, it's not like they needed to use guns anyway. They could throw those damn axes with Cheating Bastard accuracy.
  • Awfully convenient that Old Gods of Asgard use so many pyrotechnics, right? It's almost as if they were meant to kill Taken. But that's exactly what they were meant to do. Odin and Tor, after fighting the Dark Presence, want to keep it away, so their band uses the biggest, baddest light show in history (aside from that of Trans-Siberian Orchestra) to do so.
    • Don't tempt them; they might try to oneup the T.S.O next game....
  • Why does Tom wear a diving suit and glows so brightly you can't even see him inside? Because Alan had to write him into the story in order to talk to him. But since Tom had already erased himself from existance, Alan had no form of reference with which to describe him by and since simply making something up or leaving it out would allow the Presence to take over, Alan simply created an appearance that represented Tom without ever having to have to try and describe him.
    • Plus an entity glowing that brightly would be impossible for the Dark Presence to suborn.
    • Plus Alan is subconsciously aware that he's stuck at the bottom of a lake, so he writes Zane into a suit that could reach him there.
  • The name "Night Springs" is almost the exact opposite of "Bright Falls". Night isn't exactly bright, is it? Spring is the season of renewal, fall is the season where everything starts dying. Falls and springs are both associated with water (like lakes), but water comes up from springs, while it goes down falls.
    • They're also both pretty subtly depressing. Brightness, or light or the sun or whatever, the only thing that keeps us safe from the Dark Presence, always falls away to the darkness. And Night always springs to replace it. You can't beat the darkness anymore then you can keep the sun from setting.
  • The Deerfest helps explain why even convenience stores carry firearm ammunition.
  • The Taken in American Nightmare aren't as talkative as they used to be, which is disappointing, since a lot of their lines were Crowning Moments Of Funny. But when you find the first TV in the game, you find out that Mr. Scratch likes things quiet (the sound of his own voice notwithstanding), so of course his Taken are pretty much mute.
    • Also, he is a fair bit smarter than the Dark Presence, so he may have strategically made his Taken hold off on dispensing health tips and livestock trivia in order to make it easier for them to catch Alan by surprise.
  • During the first Observatory level, Mister Scratch tries to talk to Alan and Cannot Spit It Out about making peace between one another. It becomes Fridge Brilliance when you realize he's struggling with the fact he's a Card-Carrying Villain in Alan's story (being a literal Expy of Alan he'd be aware of this) but ultimately can't stop being one because that's the way he was written.
    • Additionally, if you take the Alan Wake you play as a character written by the Alan Wake doing the writing, this makes Scratch's desire to team up even more poignant. Scratch knows he's going to die at the end of this story. But does the character Alan Wake know he's going to die at the end of his adventures, when the writer Alan Wake is able to leave the Dark Place? How does he feel about that?
  • A moment of Fridge Heartwarming in Hindsight; Barry found all those Christmas lights and whatnot and realized they made the perfect armor against the Dark Presence, yes? But everything that happened was written by Alan. So it makes sense to assume that Alan put the supplies there and the idea into Barry's mind to make absolutely sure, as much as possible, that his best friend wouldn't be in danger no matter how hard the Dark Presence tried to twist his work.
  • Some people have complained that Alan isn't a very good horror writer. That's because a)he was mind-controlled when he was writing, and b)he's a crime writer.
    • He also had to write all of it within a week, and had no time to revise.
      • And as Ernest Hemingway pointed out, "The first draft of anything is sh**."
  • All that Verizon product placement sure was annoying, right? However, despite being in a small rural town far from any big cities, nestled in the mountains, every characters' cell phone calls went through without a hitch. All of those Verizon ads probably mean the company recently put up a cell tower in the area and want to make sure the residents know it, so the billboards and local TV commercial are well justified.
  • The game writers did something brilliant, they managed to write in a in-universe, built-in, failsafe against Fridge Logic, Headscratchers, and idiot tropes. Why does a character do this instead of this much more intelligent thing? Why does the Big Bad avoid capturing or killing Alan when it's been shown more than capable of doing so? It's because that's the way the story was written. The game writers can basically write in any contrived situation into the games that they feel like because it will make sense due to this plot point.
  • In American Nightmare, you have the naive and (initially) inexperienced young hippie Emma, the independent Serena who is sexual (against her will), and the intelligent and remarkably calm scientist Rachel. Gosh, this sounds familiar.

Fridge Horror

  • Those weird but basically harmless pools of darkness you've been burning away? One Night Springs episode implies that these pools are actually the free will of people.
    • It could also be spilled writer's ink... which is basically the same thing.
  • Alice is afraid of the dark, and gets taken by the Dark Presence. By the end of the game, she's been in there for two weeks. Imagine being surrounded by nothing but your worst fear for two whole weeks...
    • One of the manuscript pages even directly states that the only reason Alice doesn't scream herself insane by the end of all this is because she can sense Alan looking for her and is holding on to that hope. This means that if the player fails and Alan dies or is captured during the game it means she completely loses it.
  • You know all the Taken you fight against throughout the game? Those are real, perfectly ordinary people who have committed no crime you are effectively destroying so thoroughly that no physical trace of their bodies remain, which means that they will remain forever missing and their loved ones without closure whatsoever. Which also means that Bright Falls is now missing several dozen of its residents with more on the way.
  • This one overlaps with Fridge Brilliance, but... You know how there's all sorts of abandoned cars just waiting to be driven? Doesn't really make sense does it? Not until you remember that Taken used to be real people, so they probably got sucked out of their cars, keys still in.
    • And one of the vehicles left stranded by the roadside? A school bus.
    • On a similar note, it explains the vacancy of certain areas in the game. Why else would the train depot in Episode 3 be void of any other people? Why else would the small camp in Episode 4 be left unattended?
  • In the 5th Night Springs episode, "The Dream of Dreams", there was no end of episode commentary, and the static fades out like a normal TV Show would normally fade out. Why? The narrator was probably part of the dream too.
  • Another horrifying realization is that Rusty and the literally hundred or so other people killed over the course of the game did so, solely because Alan Wake felt it would make a better story that way. He explicitly mentions at one point there needs to be casualties to make the story work.
    • However, if the story isn't believable, then the Dark Presence can do whatever it wants with the plot holes and poor writing, and would have free reign to kill and turn everyone
  • Lost in all the chaos of the story, you have to wonder what exactly Sheriff Breaker must've felt when fending off the Taken. As previously said, most of them are people from Bright Falls and local hunters, not to mention all the cops assaulted during Nightingale's chase, which she explicitly says are her men in a radio conversation. She's been shooting at the very townspeople she swore to defend, and her own police force all night. It's odd that the game doesn't go into detail on this, because she must be devastated.
  • Taken are often screaming out lines referring to their occupations when they were still alive, which are just superficial memories leftover from the Dark Presence possessing them. By listening a few more times to Rusty and Nurse Birch's dialogues, something clicked: they speak while screaming - and, in the "special" Taken's cases, hamming it up - because the last thing they did while they were still alive WAS scream. Because the Dark Presence assaulted them directly before possessing them (the hunters were attacked during their night out camping, Stucky was cornered in his garage, Nurse Birch was locked in a room when Cauldron Lodge was invaded, etc). Those really are just superficial memories coming out, because the screaming was the last thing that happened and they were on duty during it.
    • This does add a new angle of fear and sadness in the fights with the "special" Taken. They're not being loud and psychotic because of the Dark Presence itself. They were Taken when fearing for their lives, and fear is now the default expression in their voice.