A "psychological action thriller" for the Xbox 360 from Remedy, the developers of Max Payne, this game tells the story of Alan Wake, an author of popular and best-selling thrillers who suffers from a long case of writer's block. On a vacation to the peaceful town of Bright Falls with his wife, Alice, things start to get strange when his wife is kidnapped. Alan forgets an entire week and begins finding pages of a new book that he apparently wrote himself, but which describes the events that he is currently living.These events revolve around a terrifying force of elemental darkness possessing the townspeople and attempting to kill him. Alan must fight back against the darkness by using light to weaken its hosts, while attempting to save his wife and discover the terrible secret of Bright Falls.Influenced heavily by other major horror/mystery works, you could say it is Stephen KingmeetsTwin Peaks, with a large dash of H.P. Lovecraft. Others have described it as the House of Leaves of video games, and they are not that far off from the truth.Most reviews of Alan Wake have been positive. In particular, many critics like the game's genuinely scary atmosphere, the creative uses of light as a weapon, and the episodic nature of the plot. It was chosen as Time Magazine's 2010 Game of the Year and nominated for 8 categories by Gamespot including Best Story, Graphics (Artistic) and Writing.The game was going to be a PC exclusive that would melt quad-cores with it's amazing graphics and physics. That was then scrapped when Remedy teamed up with Microsoft to make the game an Xbox 360 exclusive. They were later greenlit by Microsoft and produced a PC version for release nearly two years later in February 2012. It received similar critical reception as the Xbox version and paid back the porting costs within two days from release.
An Xbox LIVE Arcade spin-off, Alan Wake's American Nightmare, came out February 15, 2012. You can see the trailer here. Rather than the first game's Stephen King, psychological feel, it was inspired by Quentin Tarantino, pulp and sci-fi horror, and urban legends. Remedy has stated that this is not Alan Wake 2, but a stand-alone title. Following the events of the first game, Alan finds himself inside one of his own Night Springs episodes and has to do battle with the darkness once again.The series has many pop culture references and is exceptionally meta; Breaking the Fourth Wall is practically built into the plot and it sometimes goes several levels deep. Warning: Due to the game's story-heavy nature, some of the trope names below may be spoilers by themselves.
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Alan Wake Provides Examples Of:
100% Completion: Collect all the manuscript pages, all the coffee thermoses, knock over all the can pyramids, kill enough birds, and kill enough enemies with each type of weapon. There's achievements for each individual task. Mercifully, progress is cumulative, so they can be done over multiple playthroughs. Coffee thermoses even disappear in subsequent playthroughs if you've collected them once before; manuscript pages don't, but don't need to be picked up again to unlock them.
It's hard to stay mad at Mott the fake kidnapper once you realize that the only reason he tried to wrestle a manuscript out of Alan was because Hartman was manipulating him to. Additionally, he runs into the Dark Presence shortly before he and Alan meet for the last time. We don't see what the Dark Presence does to him, but by the time Alan catches up to him, he's broken and sobbing, begging for mercy.
This can also apply to Agent Nightingale if you have access to The Alan Wake Files from the Limited Edition. He feels guilt over his partner's death and is taking it out on others on the job. Of course, Alan receives the full brunt of Agent Nightingale's behaviour.
Mister Scratch of all people is a helpless slave to the way he's written. As a self-aware fictional character, it bothers him enough that he tries to bring it up with Alan but can't.
You'll miss out on a ton of the backstory if you don't read the manuscript pages you keep finding, including certain characters' names and what was happening when Alan Wake was preoccupied or unconscious.
Arrow Cam: If you hit a Taken directly with a flare from the flare gun, as opposed to simply nearby, the game goes into Bullet Time and the camera follows the flare through the air until it hits the Taken.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Alan's on his way to meet the kidnapper when he sends Alan a text message. What's the first thing Alan notices? The demands he hurry up? The insults? Nope. The spelling errors. Possibly justified, as he is a writer, but still. Spelling errors in a text message.
Artificial Brilliance: Taken will always attempt to spread out and flank you while you're distracted by another Taken, and Elite Taken will constantly zip around to avoid your flashlight and attack from behind.
Even in cases where they should know better, your allies will unload on darkness-shielded Taken, even if there's an unshielded one available to kill. They seem to prioritize the closer targets regardless of viability.
On the enemy side, fallen power lines are like Taken bug-zappers. They are incapable of seeing them and will walk right into them. This is in contrast to path-blocking lines at the transformer yard, which are treated as obstacles the Taken will not attempt to cross.
Possessed objects are incredibly stupid, both hurling themselves off of cliffs and into chasms as well as getting stuck behind obstacles constantly.
Wake is loosely based on Sam Lake, Remedy's lead writer, and he writes a novel starring himself as the protagonist. And to top it off, Sam Lake also appears as... Sam Lake during Alan Wake's late show interview... See also the Take That since, for Max Payne 1, Sam Lake did double duty as the basis for Max's face.
Also, for more Mind Screw for your buck, the Dark Presence itself which defines and dictates much if not most of the plot of the game.
Most Taken wield sharp weapons from axes to sickles to chainsaws. More specifically, as with their crazy chant, Taken use profession appropriate weapons. So a former deputy will be using nightsticks while miners will be using pickaxes and so forth.
More than one person suspects AgentNightingale of being this, although he prefers a gun.
Then again, as it is assumed Nightingale will be the new face of darkness, he will probably just switch into tornado mode whenever he shows up.
Badass Normal: Most of the cast who survives anything more than a single encounter with the Taken.
Badass Grandpas: It is implied that the Anderson brothers had fought the Dark Presence before and were able to hold the Presence back for many years until Alan came. They didn't exactly get away unharmed either; while not crazy (they never actually make up any thing that isn't true), they aren't exactly stable either. Regardless of their involvement with the Dark Presence, their music, rock stage and crazy banter definitely earn them this title.
Badass Unintentional: For a writer on vacation, Alan Wake has a hell of a time fighting off the many forms of the Dark Presence, including tornadoes and bulldozers.
Bag of Spilling: Between episodes and sometimes even during them Alan may lose his flashlight, his weapons, or both. In most cases it's justified. It doesn't make it any less annoying. While the weapons don't matter so much, losing a good flashlight for the basic one is a real kick in the pants, and that's often not justified to boot.
And come on, people. Don't store your loaded sidearm on the dashboard of a car. You mean Alan never found a suitable holster while he was hanging out in a small Washington town? This is just common sense.
A small town that is celebrating Deerfest (i.e. hunting season) no less. Meaning there's a very high population of hunters and the stores to support them.
Believable — Alan Wake is a (pardon the expression) member of the east coast literary elite. It's doubtful that he'd had much experience with a firearm before coming to Bright Falls.
Alan stated after his first encounter with the Taken, he said, "I've never fired a gun outside the firing range." So he does have some experience shooting. Carrying, on the other hand, he has none.
Battle in the Center of the Mind: Both DLC are this, particularly when it's revealed that the 'Alan' the player controls is actually a manifestation of his own rationality, which has to physically fight its way to the emotionally-distraught and self-destructive Wake to help him.
Beard of Evil: In "The Signal" one of the flashbacks Alan has involves Alice suggesting he try to look more menacing for a dustjacket picture, because in the latest book he was going to kill Alex Casey and ought to look "...like a murderer." As a result, she compliments his decision to grow a beard.
Bear Trap: All over the woods. They can be spotted with the flashlight. If you get caught in one, a Taken will spawn to try and score some cheap hits on the incapacitated Alan.
Big Bad Ensemble: The main antagonists are split between the Dark Presence, Agent Nightingale and Doctor Hartman, but the first one has the most weight over the story. And because evil is NOT one big happy family, none of the three are working together. In fact, it's the Dark Presence that physically kills Hartman (although in the Comic he survives) and possesses Nightingale.
Big Damn Hero: Alan gets a chance to do this himself late in the game. Sarah and Barry's helicopter has been taken down, so Alan decides specifically to leave the safety of the lit concrete pipe he's traveling in to go help. He arrives as Taken are swarming the other two. Sarah notes "You sure know how to make an entrance. Barry and I were just about to make like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."
Big Damn Villain: The Dark Presence intervening to save Alan Wake from the cops in Episode III.
Big "NO!": Alan yells three of these in succession plus screams after learning from the Dark Presence that Alice drowned in Cauldron Lake.
Bittersweet Ending: Alan defeats the Dark Presence and saves Alice, but at a price. He is stuck under the lake writing to appease the darkness... for now.
Although part of one level has you going through a church, the only fighting takes place in the rather small cellar.
The Signal turns the small cellar into a larger boiler room, with LOTS of boilers to take advantage of and earn the "Words Will Never Harm You" achievement in the process by blowing up every single one of them.
Bond One-Liner: When Barry one-hit kills a Taken with a flare gun, he says, "Guess that one saw the light!"
Book Ends: Taking into account the main story and the DLCs, Alan begins and ends the game heading for a lighthouse.
"Alan... wake up."
"My name is Alan Wake. And I'm a writer."
Break the Cutie: Rose never quite recovers after being touched by the Dark Presence.
It's not just that, either. Rusty, the man with whom she had secret feelings for (and vise versa), was murdered by the Dark Presence. And as if that and being Mind Raped weren't enough, she's apparently being haunted by a possessed Agent Nightingale, who had previously had a Jerk with a Heart of Gold moment when he comforted her during an interrogation.
Brick Joke: Crossed with a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment when you remember Rose's joke about how Ranger Rusty "used to be human, but now he's just black coffee wrapped in skin" after you face him as an elite Taken. One of the achievements lampshades this: "Under a Thin Layer of Skin".
Usually occurs with a Scare Chord to warn of incoming enemy ambushes and to signal when the last enemy in a wave has been killed.
Dodging just before you get hit can also cause a brief spurt of Bullet Time. You get an Achievement for pulling off twenty of these.
Lighting up a flare while surrounded by Taken sometimes causes a sudden slowdown, with the camera dramatically spinning around Alan as the Taken recoil from the sudden light. It's pretty much pure awesome everytime this happens, because the only time it happens is when there's three or more Taken, and Alan is in serious trouble.
Call Back: When you first meet the Anderson brothers in the Oh Deer Diner, one of them asks you to play "Coconut" on the jukebox. In Episode 5, at one point you pass the diner. It's unlocked, so you can go in and turn on the jukebox. Guess which song plays. And it's an achievement.
Came Back Wrong: Invoked by name, no less. Thomas Zane attempted to rewrite his lover Barbara Jagger back to life, but she was corrupted by the Dark Presence.
Captain Ersatz: Alex Casey, Alan's much beloved hero in his best selling book series, is a fairly clear parallel to Sam Lake's own grumpy detective Max Payne. Some excerpts from a Casey novel are even read by Max's original voice actor, James McCaffrey.
The "magic clicker" Alan used to have as a child to drive away the darkness turns out to be the only weapon that can hurt the Dark Presence. As with many things in the game, this is also a Mind Screw because the only reason the Clicker can do so is because it was written to do so and the Dark Presence made it so.
The standee of Alan Wake. It survives a lot and pops up during the plot in unexpected places. If you thought it would be important or at least play some sort of role, the devs got you. It's really a Red Herring.
Chekhov's Gunman: Everyone. Seriously, there are no characters introduced in the first chapter that do not turn out to be important in some way.
Fridge Brilliance seeps in when you realize the below examples are true because apart from the sheriff, these are the only people he's met in Bright Falls in the short amount of time he's been in town before he's forced to write a story about the place. You can bet he'd include more locals into the plot if he could have met them.
That quiet man at the back of the ferry? He's the kidnapper.Or is he?
That cool old radio host who wants to interview Alan? He helps Alan escape Agent Nightingale at one point.
That cheerful waitress who happens to be Alan Wake's biggest fan? She drugs Alan and Barry under the influence of the Dark Presence.
That gas station owner who was supposed to give Alan the keys to the cabin? He gets the honor of becoming the first known elite Taken.
That friendly park ranger who recommends the coffee? He becomes the second known elite Taken.
Those two crazy, lovable old rockers who put de lime in de coconut? They allow Alan to escape from the clinic, while pointing him towards the Lady of the Light.
That smug psychologist with the punchable face? He tries to trick Alan into believing his wife was just kidnapped, then later kidnaps him and tries to convince him that he's clinically insane and that his wife is dead.
That sheriff who found Alan at the gas station? She helps Alan find the Lady of the Light and may have known about the Dark Presence all along.
She's so central to the plot and so much aware of the ongoings that the implications are that Alan created her, maybe as a backup plan in case he fails - just like Alan himself was Thomas Zane's plan B.
That harmless old woman Alan meets in the diner who seems to be afraid of the dark? She's the Lady of the Light you keep hearing about.
That floating guy in the diving suit? He's Thomas Zane, the light that has been guiding you through the game.
That creepy old lady in funeral garb who gives you the keys to your cabin? She's the Big Bad.
Chiaroscuro: The Safe Havens act both as healing points and checkpoints. Any enemies in the area will also vanish once you reach them. However, vanish and defeat are two different things. Enemies you haven't killed may reappear after you've left a Safe Haven.
Christianity is Catholic: Averted. The sign outside the Bright Falls Church mentions an upcoming visit by a Presbyterian congregation.
Ironically, the Novel reveals he was the exact opposite of this trope alongside his partner, to the point where he didn't even touch Alcohol. His partner was either killed or abducted by the Dark Presence, which turned him into The AlcoholicCowboy Cop we see in the game.
Cynthia leaves behind a number of Safe Havens and supply caches as well as a secret way to find them in preparation for the battle against the darkness which the player can take advantage of. There's also the Well-Lit Room, which is so well lit that there are absolutely no shadows inside it. To keep it that way, Cynthia regularly replaces every single bulb and working part in the room. To add to the crazy part, she's memorized exactly which bulbs need replacing when by serial number, manufacturer and so forth.
Barry, when fighting Taken, grabs the biggest flashlight he can get his hands on, a headlamp, and wraps himself in Christmas lights for "protection. Like garlic against vampires".
Creator Cameo: Sam Lake appears as a guest on the talk show that Alan also visits.
Creepy Monotone: Both Rose and Alan's voice actors try to do this when under the influence of the Dark Presence.
Critical Existence Failure: Averted. If Alan's at low health, the screen becomes black and white and he walks around slouched down and holding his chest, but he does as much damage as ever.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Barry. He's a boorish, slightly overweight New York literary agent. He's also Alan's best friend, and when things start getting trippy he steps up to the plate with gusto.
Deadpan Snarker: Alan isn't the best example of this, but he's got his moments. Special mention goes to a moment where Barry, after attempting to convince Alan he's nuts, hears the Dark Presence moving through the woods.
Barry: What - what the hell was that? I saw it from the window - I saw - I saw something.
Alan: Forget about it, Barry. It's just me going crazy.
Death by Genre Savviness: Nightingale becomes Genre Savvy by reading the manuscript pages. All this really means, though, is that he realizes that the Dark Presence is going to grab him about two seconds before it actually does. Also a case of Death by Irony since after Alan escapes from him the second time, he shouts into the night something along the lines of "I'll catch you even if it kills me!"
Death Seeker: By "The Signal" until the end of "The Writer", part of Alan has apparently decided that he wants out of the And I Must Scream situation he's in... by any means necessary.
Manage to trick a Taken into following you into a Safe Haven? They die instantly.
Some characters have lines that are only triggered by certain actions, like shining the flashlight in Barry's face.
Did You Just Rewrite Cthulhu: Alan's master plan at Episode Six's conclusion. "The Signal" shows Alan is a little too busy to enact this, but "The Writer" has Alan getting ready to go at it.
Difficulty By Region: The "Normal" mode of the PC version is actually the "Hard" mode of the Xbox 360 version. Apparently, this was to address the added advantage of the mouse-keyboard setup, as well as fan input that the original Normal mode was too easy. The achivement set-up for Steam, however, wasn't fixed, giving players an extra achivement for completing "hard" mode.
Disappeared Dad: Alan never knew his father. No reason is given for his absence. When Alan was seven years old and suffering from nightmares, his mother gave him the Clicker. She told him that his father gave it to her, making it more mythical in Alan's mind. In The Signal, a raving Alan in one of the televisions admits his denial that he does not care that he never knew his father.
Disconnected Side Area: A few areas from the main game cannot be explored until "The Signal" and "The Writer". In The Signal, you get to visit the Oh Deer Diner's bathroom and kitchen. In "The Writer", you get to properly enter and climb the lighthouse.
Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: At several points, the Dark Presence takes the form of a tornado and chases down Alan, but he is still able to run away from it unless it gets too close. Near the end of the game, he must get close enough to one to shoot it up with flares. He even has to jump across several platforms to reach it, all while dodging the swirling junk.
Elite Mooks: Some of the Taken are more powerful than others. It takes much longer to burn off the darkness protecting them, some of them can turn invisible and run around you at high speed, and some are big and have nasty weapons.
Played straight and inverted simultaneously. At one point in Episode 2, Alan loses his gun but is saved by Mott, the kidnapper. Mott has a gun, but refuses to give it to Alan, instead giving him flares. The next part of the level requires you to destroy the darkness on the Taken so Mott can blast them.
In Episode 5, Sheriff Breaker escorts you to a helicopter. She has an infinite ammo shotgun.
The Dark Presence has made numerous attempts to escape using artists to write its freedom before, holding their loved ones captive to control them.
The manuscript implies that the Anderson brothers know about the Dark Presence and have fought it before.
It is implied that Zane actually wrote some of Wake's life before vanishing.
It's more than that - it's implied Zane actually wrote Alan writing the events of the game.
Equivalent Exchange: Alan buys Alice's freedom from the Dark Presence by taking her place at the bottom of the lake. He even states that a lack of equivalent exchange is what caused Barbara to come back wrong.
Fake Band: The Old Gods of Asgard, played by the real life band Poets Of The Fall. Lampshaded by the radio host who comments that for some reason Poets of the Fall reminds him of the Old Gods of Asgard.
Dr. Hartman, since everything he tells Alan about himself is a lie to perpetuate his own hidden agenda. Somewhat subverted since Alan suspected this, although it was not easy since he was under the influence of Dr. Hartman's sedatives.
The Dark Presence can also count since it tricked Alan into writing the horror story, saying it would save Alice if he did what it wanted.
Alan faces the Dark Presence - as a tornado - dodging objects being hurled around by it while having to jump on planks to get close enough to shoot several flares into it. All the while, the Dark Presence tornado is flinging insults at him.
"The Signal" ends with Alan battling an army of TVs with his face on them plus some Taken and a large boat.
"The Writer" ends with Alan battling Imaginary Barry who has become pissed off that Alan is following Thomas Zane instead of him, backed up by similar projections of Dr. Hartman, the Anderson Brothers who wield their "axes" as weapons, and an endless legion of crows.
Flare Gun: Against the light-hating enemies, this is functionally equivalent to a rocket launcher, easily destroying whole groups of weaker enemies and producing enough light to drive away any survivors. You won't find much ammo for it, but it comes in very handy when you get swarmed.
The entire game can be thought of as one huge flashback considering Alan's eventual fate as well as Alan's interactions with himself through the televisions.
Flashlight Of Dependency: Alan's flashlight fends off the Taken and Dark-touched objects. While his pistol and other weapons are important, they would be completely useless without using the flashlight to neutralize the Darkness first. The flares and flashbang grenades can also apply.
Flawless Victory: "Night Life In Bright Falls", "The Signal", and "The Writer" all have achievements for getting through them in one go without dying or reloading a checkpoint. They are likely the game's most difficult achievements, with Signal's being the toughest.
The Signal gets extra asshole points for placing a bunch of the "tools" words next to bottomless pits, causing the supplies that fall out of them to most likely bounce or roll into the pit and possibly kill any players trying to grab them in time.
Also, there's a shoebox of books by Thomas Zane in the cabin, and if you can read their titles, at least one says something related to the story of the game.
The woman who gives Alan the key to the cabin is standing in one of the darkest places in the Oh Deer Diner and is dressed completely in black.
There is also this remark:
Alice (to Alan): Can you believe this place? This would make a wonderful setting for a book.
Through use of the collectible manuscripts, the game also does this to the player, hinting at events that are about to come. It's both humorous and very unsettling.
Manuscript: The flashlight was heavy in my hand, and each pull of the trigger sent a painful shock up my arm. But I was finally out of the woods and things were looking up. That's when I heard the chainsaw.
Some of the Night Springs episodes reference coming plot points.
The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: After a big plot-revealing moment, the Dark Presence's avatar looks down on the protagonist and then briefly glimpses at the camera before suddenly teleporting right into the player's face!
Gainax Ending: Arguably. It's deliberately ambiguous and open-ended.
Gargle Blaster: Two aged rockers created a bunch of moonshine using water from the decidedly mystical lake in the center of Bright Falls. Not only does it get you totally drunk, but there's a high probability of you tripping out on the stuff. As Barry puts it: "I feel like my brain is comin' outta my nose."
GASP!: This first happened in the beginning of the game when the hitchhiker Alan runs over disappears. Afterward this usually occurs after Alan wakes up from a nightmare.
Genre Savvy: Alan. It's a borderline superpower given the setting. Then again, he is a writer and did write the story so it's probably justified.
It also becomes apparent that Sheriff Breaker is pretty genre savvy as well. Aside from curbing Nightingale's Cowboy Cop tendencies, she is also aware that the lake has some unusual effects on their surroundings, and has plans in place to deal with them. Plus, she doesn't even ask questions when Alan starts talking about the Taken. Her most important question essentially amounts to "How do we kill them?"
Genre Shift: This happens indirectly in the game with direct consequences. While Alan was writing his manuscript at the cabin under the influence of the Dark Presence, the Dark Presence heavily edited it to change the genre into a horror story, giving it more power.
Geographic Flexibility: Bright Falls is apparently the kind of town where "everybody knows everybody", but the town and surrounding area have a dormant volcano, a logging camp, a national park, an abandoned mill, a radio station, a coal mine converted into a museum, a psychologist's lodge, two ghost towns, a decommissioned power plant, and a large dam. Given that the game is set in the Pacific Northwest, this isn't as far-fetched as it sounds.
Many collectibles here including manuscript pages, coffee thermoses, can pyramids, chests, radio shows, TV shows, and signs. Many of these require the player to stray off the obvious path.
"The Signal" DLC has you collecting alarm clocks and finding cardboard Alan Wake standees.
"The Writer" DLC has you picking up Night Springs video game copies.
Got Volunteered: Barry often gets Alan to do all of the hard tasks between them. Then again, Alan really cannot complain since he is the protagonist of the story he created that is coming to life in Bright Falls.
Guns in Church: Given a nod with a sign outside the Bright Falls Church that explicitly states, "No concealed firearms allowed."
Harder Than Hard: Nightmare difficulty, in which not only do enemies do and take twice as much damage, it takes over twice as long to burn their shadows away. Most of your time on Nightmare will be spent dropping flares and running like mad.
Hazardous Water: Cauldron Lake as the Dark Presence resides there, yet the Anderson brothers still put it in their moonshine.
The Taken, the mooks of the Dark Presence, fall into this category quite well: They're shells of people animated by darkness. One manuscript page suggests that their mind as well as body has been Taken from them. A TV episode suggests another possibility altogether.
Barbara Jagger is literally this after a distraught Thomas Zane, realizing that she Came Back Wrong after writing her back into existence, carved her heart out. The hole in her chest even goes through her black clothing.
Heavy Mithril: The two songs by Old Gods of Asgard imply that they're this. Their name and their decorating tastes pretty much confirms it. Also, Poets Of The Fall, which even has a song that's playing in the middle of one of the more difficult fights in the game.
It's worth mentioning that the two songs by the Old Gods are performed by Poets of the Fall.
In order to save Alice and defeat the Dark Presence, Alan stays behind in the lake to uphold the Equivalent Exchange.
In order to stop the Dark Presence in his time, Thomas Zane wrote himself and everything involved with him out of existence. He did, however, add a loophole...
Hollywood Darkness: Semi-justified though; in the backwoods where the game take place away from the buildings and light pollution of the city and under the bright moon, you can actually see about as well as Alan can sans flashlight.
Averted. Alan gets a small cut on his head near the beginning of the game, and for the rest of the game, he has a bandage on the cut.
In a rather subtle example, Dr. Hartman starts wearing a splint on his nose after Alan punches him. For a writer, he must have a mean right hook.
Actually, one of the manuscript pages reveals Alan punched him again after Hartman captured him.
Hope Spot: Safe Havens are literally this. In the case of this trope they apply when some of them break just as Alan is about to reach it. This can be quite vexing when Alan has a horde of Taken on his tail, is at low health, and can't run any more.
One of the manuscript pages describes Alan leaving the dark forest behind him, and explicitly says that things were looking up. Then he hears a chainsaw...
Horror Struck: Alan is speechless when he tries to show Sheriff Breaker where he and Alice were staying at Cauldron Lake, only to find that the island isn't there any more.
Humanoid Abomination: The avatar of the Dark Presence, which looks and acts like an old woman in mourning clothes but is anything but human.
Though not as massive as some arsenals, Alan Wake will generally end up carrying a shotgun or hunting rifle with about thirty rounds, a revolver with more than forty rounds, a flare gun with up to ten flares, an additional twenty flares and ten flashbang grenades, along with his flashlight and twenty batteries for it. That jacket has got to have some deep pockets.
He also seemingly stuffs the shotguns and rifle into his pockets.
To be fair, he does have three jackets on.
Taken who throw weapons will never run out of hammers, axes, or knives. This is most likely due to being Taken, as they can readily teleport thanks to the Dark Presence.
Suuuuure, Alan, going into the very dark trailer owned by the monotone-speaking person who knows you're looking for manuscript pages even though you never told them is obviously the smart thing to do! Made far, far worse by the fact he's Dangerously Genre Savvyconsidering he wrote it. How many times does he fall for the oldest horror story tricks in the book, again?
But then again, remember the rules of the setting - it's a setting ruled by the letter of the manuscript. Thus, even if he didn't want to, he would have to abide by what was written anyway. Also, it may very well be that the poor writing/justification of the scene as written the manuscript is the very reason the person in the trailer was Taken in the first place.
I Have Your Wife: Spoken nearly word for word by the fake kidnapper and later by the Dark Presence.
Indy Escape: This occurs near the end of the game when Alan is on a car bridge dodging and destroying various objects as well as trying not to fall through loose planks.
Indy Ploy: "I had no real plan." Alan admits this to himself while on his way to meet the kidnapper for the third time. He also admits this while traveling toward the final showdown with the Dark Presence.
Ineffectual Death Threats: The kidnapper keeps issuing threats to Alan that he will kill Alice if he does not get the manuscript. It's later discovered that the kidnapper never had Alice and was just working under Hartman's plan to take and publish Departure.
Inferred Holocaust: Hundreds of townsfolk from the surrounding landscape are Taken and gunned down over the course of the story. However, in "The Signal" Alan states that he wrote a "happy ending" for the town, and we know that the dead can be resurrected if you know what you're doing when writing a story; the ending implies that Alan brought everyone who was Taken in Bright Falls back to life.
Debunked in The Alan Wake Files. Clay Steward saw three funerals his first day in Bright Falls, and that he heard there were numerous deaths and disappearances leading up to Deerfest.
All of the flashlights will last forever in standard use, but can be boosted to deal more damage and daze foes. Boosting eats through the batteries quickly, but the power will actually regenerate if left to recharge or filled up with batteries to recover it faster.
The prequel series features the latter trope where someone shines a light on a Taken deer only to have the flashlight fail shortly thereafter.
Informed Ability: Some people find Alan's writing too cheesy to believe that he's a best-selling writer. Apart from the well-documented fact that there is no necessary connection between commercial success and literary quality, one of the first things we learn about Alan is that he has deep-seated fears of having become, or perhaps having always been, a talentless hack.
I'm Your Biggest Fan: Rose, the waitress at the Oh Deer Diner. She's even got a life-sized cardboard cutout of Alan Wake right in her diner.
Inspector Javert: FBI Agent Nightingale, at your service and to your dismay. Subverted in the "everyone believes him" part - his Cowboy Cop tendencies quickly puts him in the Ax-Crazy bin for the townsfolk (even though he's technically right about Alan being responsible for what's going on, due to the latter writing the manuscript).
Instant Sedation: Very possible due to Dr. Hartman sedating Alan at the Cauldron Lake Lodge.
However, while running for the helicopter with the sheriff, Alan must protect her while she unlocks the gate to a fence. The fence in question is at head-height, made of wood, has boards missing, and the sheriff has a shotgun. Even so, it cannot be bypassed until unlocked.
There are a lot of obstacles which look like Alan could easily climb over, or even move a nearby object in order to climb over, but you instead have to take a large detour in order to get past them.
Interface Screw: Alan gets one during a flashback, simulating a hangover, in the form of a pulsing screen with over-saturated light and a persistent buzzing sound. Upon putting on a pair of sunglasses, the visuals clear up, and upon taking a few painkillers, the buzzing fades, too.
The few times you have allies, they help take out the Taken.
At the Old Gods of Asgard stage, Barry helps a lot with the stage lights.
In Episode 5, Alan and Sarah Breaker are looking for keys to a helicopter in the town hall. Sarah says she'll look for the keys and asks Alan to repair the fuse box, but Alan complains he already got electrocuted that day, referencing an event earlier in the level. Sarah relents, and Alan goes looking for the keys while Sarah fixes the fuse.
Jump Scare: Thankfully this game generally avoids using these, save for when Barbara Jagger appears right in front of the camera in a cutscene. Also unknowingly stepping on a bear trap is guaranteed to send most players leaping out of their seats.
Although, there is one instance near the start of chapter 2: When Alan is making his way down to Lover's Peak from the cabin, as you walk down the road a bin to your right will, without warning, explode in the loudest way possible, which will make you absolutely soil yourself, even if you're prepared.
Also, in the same area, if you walk into one of the empty houses, you may randomly take damage. Made even scarier if watching the Night Springs episode and it happens during that.
Any time you walk into a puddle of darkness you haven't seen yet counts too.
There is one instance where a Taken will appear the second you open a door, right in front of you.
Extremely frequent during the later part of the last chapter, where the image of Barbara Jagger holding Alice jumps out on the screen, accompanied by a screeching noise, before every instance of her speaking to Alan. It get's old really quickly.
Karmic Death: Dr. Emil Hartman traps Alan in his clinic to force him to continue writing. Alan returns the favor by trapping the psychologist in his office and letting the Dark Presence take him.
Kick the Son of a Bitch: At one point in the game, Alan locks Dr. Hartman in his own office and lets The Dark Presence take him away.
Kill It with Fire: One sequence in "The Signal" DLC allows you to incinerate Taken with blast furnaces.
Stucky. For someone who gets barely a few minutes worth of appearance, he's very charismatic. And loud.
The insane side of Alan in the DLC episodes.
Mr. Scratch in American Nightmare, full stop.
Laser Sight: Played with. It's not perfect, but both Alan and the player use the flashlight's beam as a makeshift set of crosshairs.
Lens Flare: When you shine your light on one of the Taken, a lens flare effect pops up over them as a sort of indicator. It contracts in size as you burn away the darkness protecting them, leaving them vulnerable to conventional weapons when it vanishes.
Lighthouse Point: Alan's destination in his first nightmare, and again near the end in "The Writer".
Light is Good: And it's the only way you can destroy the layer of darkness around every Taken.
Lightning Can Do Anything: It's a bit hard to see, but a bolt of lightning saves Barry at the Anderson farm by striking the dragon spotlight and turning the stage lights on.
Light 'em Up: Alan doesn't have elemental powers, but nonetheless has to use light to make the possessed minions of the darkness vulnerable — usually flashlights.
Little "No": Alan says this in response to Dr. Hartman telling him that Alice died from drowning in the lake.
You get TWO PILLS IN THE MORNING and then YOU'LL BE CALM ALL DAY LONG.
Male Gaze: On occasion, the camera tends to give put female body parts significant screen real estate. That said, partially justified since it's implied that many of these instances (which involve Alice) are to suggest Alan's gaze.
Married to the Job: In a flashback, tension arises between Alan and Alice due to all of the time Alan dedicated to his book tour for his last Alex Casey novel The Sudden Stop. Alan apologizes and suggests the two of them take a vacation after the tour ends. This, plus his temper over his writer's block, put him in his current predicament in Bright Falls.
The Maze: Alan has to go through a hedge maze in the garden of the Cauldron Lake Lodge, fighting Taken along the way.
Meaningful Name: The aforementioned initials of the protagonist (and his wife). But there's also Sheriff Breaker - as in the electrical component.
There's also the name of the town as compared to the town of the in-game TV show. Bright Falls, Night Springs.
Many, many more exist for the knowledgeable troper: Pat Maine (Maine being the location for many Stephen King novels), Randolph (as in Randolph Carter, H.P. Lovecraft's Author Avatar), Barbara Jagger (a name reminiscent of Baba Yaga, tying in with Bird's Leg Cabin and her being called a "witch") and even even Thomas Zane (reminiscent of Lovecraft's Erich Zann).
Medium Awareness: Played with. The characters realize they're in Alan's book, but not that they're within a video game.
It gets even more meta once you notice the game is formed to resemble a season of a TV series.
Medium Blending: The people you see on televisions are all done in live-action, including Alan Wake himself (who is portrayed by the physical model for his character with his voice actor dubbing the lines over).
In American Nightmare, Mr. Scratch is always shown as a real person. This includes when he shows up on TV screens to taunt Alan AND when he shows up physically for confrontations.
Gabe: Alan Wake is about a writer, writing about another writer, who is writing about himself and ANOTHER FUCKING WRITER!
Is Alan crazy? What is the Dark Presence? How can his manuscript describe events that haven't happened yet?
The ending is very hard to understand. Who/what is Mr. Scratch? Why did the clock in the lodge start spinning backwards? And what does Alan mean when he says "It's not a lake... it's an ocean."?
Nightingale has a lovely one himself. To wit:
Alan Wake, Reading: "Nightingale tried to make sense of the manuscript. It was disjointed and strange. He didn't understand half of it, but it all rang true, impossibly true. He took out his hip flask when he reached the page that described how he reached the page that made him take out his hip flask. It wasn't the booze that made his mind reel."
The manuscript page titled "Wake Reads a Page". Here it is in its full glory:
Alan Wake, reading: "I lifted the page in front of my eyes and read it. In it, I lifted the page in front of my eyes and read it. In it, I lifted the page in front of my eyes and read it. In it, I lifted the page in front of my eyes and read it. In it, I lifted the page in front of my eyes and read it. In it, I lifted the page in front of my eyes and read it."
The ending has Alan trapped in the cabin writing a manuscript... the same thing that happened at the beginning. Combined with the odd rewinding clock, this may mean that Alan, upon finishing the manuscript, writes that he erases the whole thing and starts a new better manuscript, locking him and the Presence in a loop while the rest of the world can continue normally.
Let's not even get started on the live action prequel Bright Falls...
Minecart Madness: Only one of which happens with an actual minecart. Otherwise done with cable cars.
Missing Time: One moment, Alan's diving into Cauldron Lake to save Alice, the next, he's in his crashed car hanging over a cliff a week later. He later finds out He spent that week writing Departure under the influence of the Dark Presence.
The Muse: Barbara Jagger was Thomas Zane's, and Alice is Alan's.
Narrative Filigree: In between walking through dark forests and blasting away Taken, you can find signs and plaques scattered around Bright Falls that give a bit of backstory to the town - for example, when Alan enters the mine in Episode 3, you can read that Bright Falls started as a coal mining town, and a bridge you can cross later on was named after a police officer when he sacrificed his life to save people from a car accident. Additionally, there are radios for you to listen to, both giving updates on the non-Alan side of things and having unneeded stuff like Pat Maine interviewing a psychologist.
The Nicknamer: Agent Nightingale, who derisively calls Alan by a different author's name every time they meet.
Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The Taken are basically Zombie (unliving shells of the people they were) Demon (possessed by the DP) Vampires (supernatural durability, aversion to light, only come out at night).
Weapons and supplies as well as coffee thermoses flash for easy spotting, while manuscript pages are simply lit up by an unknown light source. These may be justified given the nature of the game world. Alan's flashlight will also occasionally reveal hidden graffiti left by Cynthia that leads him to hidden chests or his goal.
Can Pyramids, on the other hand, do not glow or shine and are easily forgotten about. There's only twelve in the game, and odds are you'll only find or remember to shoot at least two of them. It's telling that while there are Achievements for getting 100% of all the other collectibles, the one for shooting tin can pyramids only requires five out of all twelve.
Alan yells this one out loud when a boxcar drops in front of him only inches away.
Agent Nightingale gets such a moment upon realizing that he is reenacting events from the manuscript shortly before the Dark Presence takes him away.
Even players aren't safe. The moment Barbara Jagger suddenly jumps at the screen is sure to soil quite a few trousers.
Anytime a safe haven goes out.
"The flashlight was heavy in my hand, and each pull of the trigger sent a painful shock up my arm. But I was finally out of the woods and things were looking up. That's when I heard the chainsaw."
Ominous Fog: You could be under attack at any given time, but once fog starts blowing through the surrounding area, you know you're in big trouble.
And in some cases, the fog will occasionally create silhouettes of things that aren't there, such as multiple-story-tall monstrous things, odd shaped people, or other weird things.
One Bullet Clips: Justified, as none of the guns use magazines, and so each bullet has to be loaded one at a time.
One-Hit Kill: Flareguns, especially if fired at a group of tightly clustered Taken, next to shooting the propane tanks, flashbang grenades, and clearing the boiler room at the church's basement in "The Signal". The lighthouse in "The Writer" on open spaces after clearing away the blocking boulders, and it's very satisfying to see a large group of Taken disintegrate as they try to bum rush Alan. The downside: it's a lighthouse, so the light sweeps. The upside: two beams, so Alan's fine as long he has extra flares, flashbang grenades, and batteries as backup.
The flare gun and flashbangs are so powerful they're essentially a "No, I don't want to partake in this encounter, thank you" button.
One-Hit Polykill: The two-round shotgun can potentially blow away two lined up Taken, but this usually only works with the weaker Fragile Speedster types. The standard knife-throwers will absorb most of the blast unless previously wounded and the axe-wielders take two shots to kill.
Ontological Mystery: In the first episode, you find yourself in your own wrecked car on the edge of a cliff, with memory of what you've been doing for the last week.
The meta-fictional narrative of the game leaves open questions like this all over the place. Did Tom Zane write Alan into being? Did Alan's story dictate everything that everyone in Bright Falls did, retroactively changing things? Did Alan write Zane writing Alan? Who knows?
Open Says Me: Alan kicks at least a few doors/boards down. Luckily for him, the doors and their frames are usually old, and not as strong as they would be.
Well yes, Remedy is from Finland. Which means that they are the right people to consult on how to do design and construct a town like Bright Falls in a state such as Washington in the first place. Finland is extremely well known for its own endless forest ranges. They wouldn't really have to travel halfway around the world to get the idea; they were in the idea all along, and it truly shows in the game.
Culturally Finland is a lot like the Northwestern US too, with pastime activities such as hunting and fishing, the love of coffee and whatnot. In fact, one should not be surprised if most of those Twin Peaks -like character quirks you see in the game was Remedy simply inserting stuff they see everyday back at home.
There's also the Poets of the Fall music video for "War", which was shot in Finland, but you really couldn't tell it from the game location just by looking at it. Sort of nails the point of Finland and Washington state being alike. A lot.
Our Zombies Are Different: The Taken have a lot in common with traditional zombies, being former humans reduced to an undead puppet state. However, their ability to appear out of thin air and (as shown by Stucky) even teleport around gives them a phantasmal element as well. They're also crazy fast and a lot smarter in combat than most other survival horror zombie enemies.
Overprotective Dad: On the way to the Anderson farm, there is a secret stash in a house. After leaving the house, a Taken greets you with "You stay away from my daughter!"
Passing the Torch: The ending implies that Rose has taken over for Cynthia as the new Lady of the Light.
Paused Interrupt: Averted. When one character interrupts another, their speech briefly overlaps.
Perma Stubble: Alan. Notably, he's clean-shaven during the flashbacks.
Pet the Dog: During Agent Nightingale's interview with post-possession Rose, she suffers a breakdown. Nightingale, up to this point established as quite the Jerkass, stops the interview to calm her down.
Plot Hole: Arguably caused the entire thing. Zane wrote about Barbara Jagger coming back without any justification or reason. The Dark Presence was very eager to provide an explanation for this plot hole.
One of the Night Springs episodes also has a literal plot hole. In the short, the apparent writer of the story has conceived a scenario in which two old women enter their basement to check out something strange. What's there is a hole, an absence of plot because the writer cannot conceive just what he intended them to see upon arrival. He then shoos them away and contemplates ending the story, at which point the short ends.
Plucky Comic Relief: Barry Wheeler, Alan's agent. However, he grows a bit more involved in the fight as the game progresses while still being the comic relief.
Posthumous Character: We learn far more about Stuckey as a Taken than we ever do as a real person. His extreme fondness for hot dogs, for one thing.
Post Modernism: Directly mentions and blatantly references authors and shows that have inspired it several times.
The Power of Rock: One of the best parts of the game has Alan and Barry defending a concert stage from waves of Taken. With a kickass song blaring away. And very impressive pyrotechnics. And ammo everywhere.
Prequel: Remedy created a 6-episode live action prequel mini-series to cover events before Alan arrives. Depending on fan feedback, this may be extended to a second season. The first season ends literally at the beginning of the game with Alan driving up to the wrecked car (the result of the end of the prequel).
Pretentious Latin Motto: The phrase written on the sundial at Dr. Hartman's clinic says "In tenebras cadere", which roughly translates to "To fall into darkness".
Justified, as it was created by a certain Thomas Zane.
Previously On: The game is set up as if it was a television show, complete with both cliffhanger endings cutting to a relevant song and "Previously on Alan Wake" segments to explain the story so far.
Primal Fear: This game plays up fear of the dark for all its worth.
Might be justified in that the game plays like a TV show. What do TV shows have? Product placement.
One TV, instead of showing a Night Springs episode, shows an ad for Verizon Wireless after a faux movie trailer. There's also a conspicuous shot of the brand of batteries Alan uses (Energizer) early on.
Later on, you start off staring at a billboard for Verizon. It's not even a good billboard just the word Verizon.
Ford Motor Company provides some of the in-game vehicles, both drivable and non-drivable. The Wakes' Lincoln MKX, a Ford Fusion in the Bright Falls PD parking lot, and a drivable Ford Super Duty pickup.
In the DLC, "The Signal", you get a Verizon phone at the start of the episode. The batteries, however, are not Energizer, but they appear to be some sort of in-game, generic brand. Plus, Thomas Zane asks, "Can you hear me now?" right after Alan gets his phone.
Alan used a Tivo to record his appearence on a talk show.
Properly Paranoid: Cynthia Weaver knows to be afraid of the dark, as Alan and the others eventually realize.
Barry as well. When he isn't able to contact either Alan or Alice for a week, he immediately heads for Bright Falls.
Pun: In the game's slogan no less, "I am A. Wake." Used again at the end of the game with, "Alan, wake up." This veers into potential Mind Screw territory. Alan's wife is named Alice, which also forms the initials A. Wake. Thus if one wants to be ambiguous, one can take any reference to A. Wake as referencing Alice and not Alan.
Railing Fall: While meeting with the kidnapper on a wooden viewing balcony, at one point Alan punches the kidnapper hard enough to break the railing he's leaning against and send them both falling to the ground below.
Real Is Brown: You may notice that many objects are shaded brown during daytime scenes.
Reality Warper: The Dark Presence targets artists, manifesting their creativity in reality while influencing their creations to make itself stronger.
Reasonable Authority Figure: Sheriff Sarah Breaker is pretty reasonable, especially considering the freakish events following Alan around. Her initial reaction to the Dark Presence snatching Nightingale is to ask Wake how to fight the Presence, and she doesn't bat an eye once Wake tells her that they need to find Cynthia Weaver.
Recursive Reality: One of the pages you find talks about Alan finding a page and reading from it that he found a page and read from it that he found a page and read from it that...
Revolvers Are Just Better: Or, in this case, the only thing available at all. While the double-barrel/pump-action shotgun and hunting rifle outstrip it in terms of firepower, they can't carry as much ammo as the revolver does and their shells aren't as plentiful (except in the shotgun's case during the final battle in "The Writer"). Flare guns are ridiculously rare, except at a certain boss fight.
Rewriting Reality: Cauldron Lake allows anybody to do this, but the Dark Presence influences the writing to its own ends.
Room Full of Crazy: At one point Alan enters a room completely scrawled with the strange graffiti repeating the name Tom over and over. If you look around the room even more, you'll find other phrases distinct from the normal glowie graffiti that suggests a more complex relationship between Thomas, Barbara and Cynthia.
Agent Nightingale refuses to call Alan Wake by his real name, and instead keeps calling him by the names of other famous writers, like James Joyce or Stephen King. He never re-uses any of them, either.
The Alan Wake cardboard cutout, which Barry sees fit to drag along to the clinic. Heck, he even carries it to the farm and beyond!
Barry likes threatening to sue people.
People making fun of Alan's elbow patches and tweed jacket.
Alan Wake: That's the sanest thing I've heard in a while.
Played straight in "The Signal" and "The Writer" where Alan has gone completely insane and self-destructive, and the protagonist is the rational part of his mind trying to bring him back to his senses.
Scenery Porn: Washington's mountains and pine forests are beautiful, both during the day and at night. They're pretty accurate representations of rural areas of the Pacific Northwest too.
Schmuck Bait: At one point in Episode 4 that sticks Alan without weapons, he gets chased down a path by a trio of Taken toward a Safe Haven. Halfway to the Haven, there's a generator-powered light. However, the Taken are accurate with their weapons and fast enough that you won't have time to start the generator before they attack you; not that you'd know that on your first playthrough.
Barry: Hey, Al. Lots of hours before dawn. Might as well get some rest. And by rest, I mean drunk.
Alan: Come on, Barry. This is — Yeah, what the hell.
Screw The Manuscript,I Write It!: Zane wrote himself and everything he created out of existence to stop the Dark Presence but purposefully put in a loophole to pass knowledge on.
Security Blanket: When he was young, Alan was afraid of the dark, so his mom gave him a light switch called "the Clicker" to drive the monsters away. At the end of Episode 5, Alan finds the Clicker in a shoebox with a page written by Thomas Zane that basically gives it the power to defeat the Dark Presence.
Emerson, one of the patients in Hartman's clinic, is a video game developer. He tries to scare people by "sneaking" up on them in plain view muttering "Scary, scary, scary, scary, BOO!" You can find him again soon afterward, where he's babbling a series of amusing Take Thats at producers and writers. Also counts as a Take That against practically all past horror games that use the slasher/gore style of horror where things are scary because they're gross and unexpected. Did we mention that his room has an Xbox 360 and a copy of the Night Springs video game?
Dr. Hartman's reaction to Emerson adds to the self-deprecation. His voice is full of disdain when he mentions that Emerson makes video games, and he says that Emerson is allowed to stay at his clinic for artists because making video games takes "some small creative effort". It is also a Take That against critics who say video games aren't artistic (if not art). After all, this is a game that draws heavily upon some critically acclaimed pieces of media as well as drawing from media that are huge Mind Screws. So this is a Mind ScrewTake ThatSelf-Deprecation joke.
Night Springs, a thinly veiled homage to The Twilight Zone, which was apparently inspired by events that transpired in Bright Falls.
Departure, the novel Alan keeps finding pages of, also counts. One of the pages takes this and runs with it, saying nothing but, "I lifted the page up to my eyes and read it. In it, I lifted the page up to my eyes and read it. In it, I lifted the page up to my eyes and read it. In it..." and so on.
Smug Snake: Dr. Emil Hartman attempted to convince Alan that he is one of his patients in order to get him to continue writing the manuscript. Alan distrusted him from the get-go, so he never had a chance.
Spooky Painting: Alan sees several of these around Cauldron Lake Lodge and many more stashed in Dr. Hartman's office, after Alan is committed there. They were painted by a patient at the lodge, who tells Alan that he could not find inspiration to paint until Alan arrived. Earlier in the scenario Dr. Hartman tells Alan that the patient's paintings have been dark in theme since he started painting again.
Sprint Meter: An invisible one. Sprinting for too long causes Alan's speed to drop before eventually he's barely running. Standing still in this state causes Alan to put his hands on his knees and pant a while.
Stealth Parody: Maybe. Barry talking to Alan about Taken vanishing on death could be this at video games and enemy disappearing shortly after death.
Steel Eardrums: Averted through emphasis when Alan monologues on how his ears are ringing when he first fires a revolver (probably to remind players he's normal). Then played straight when it never happens again (undoubtedly to avoid annoying the player, but made kinda obvious through drawing unnecessary attention to it).
Story to Gameplay Ratio: High, but lower than you might think considering that the game is very story-driven. While each episode has its own mini-story, plenty of it is given during gameplay.
Stylistic Suck: Arguably any narrative contrivance, plot hole or silly dialogue you might find has a very comfortable explanation. Reality itself has been scribed by an insecure hack.
Subliminal Seduction: When Alice and Alan are arguing at the beginning of the game inside the cabin, Barbara Jagger briefly appears on screen in the darkness.
Survival Horror: Though given one discussion over at Gamasutra, your mileage may vary on whether Alan Wake is survival horror or whether it would be better to call it a psychological thriller. The distinction being along the lines of Halloween versus The Shining. In some ways, Alan Wake is best played like System Shock 2 or Bioshock rather than Max Paynein the woods.
A discussion that seemingly isn't hampered by the fact that Alan Wake bills itself, right on the very cover, as a Psychological Action Thriller. It isn't helped that some game reviewers / websites take any remotely scary game and slap "survival horror" on it, then complain that it isn't scary or horror enough.
Suspiciously Apropos Music: During the set piece where you fight on a stage in the middle of the field as music plays. Without spoiling too much, let's just say that this is one of the few cases that this is a Justified Trope.
A subtle one. As mentioned above, the character from Alan's books, Alex Casey, is an Erzatz of Max Payne. In the last book Alan wrote he killed off Alex, seeming to imply that Sam Lake has washed his hands off the character and wants no part in Max Payne 3, which is being developed by Rockstar Vancouver rather than Remedy (and that interpretation would seem to imply that, in turn, Max Payne has technically become a Franchise Zombie to him.). For that matter, Thomas Zane and Alex Casey are voiced by Max Payne's voice actor.
For that matter, the game as a whole can perhaps be taken as a Take That from Remedy to past publishers it has worked with.
A manuscript page has Rose saying Alan should ignore the trolls online who say Departure will never be released. Given that a certain game was in Development Hell , this could easily be seen as a Take That against the gaming community.
In Dr. Hartman's clinic, you meet a game designer by the name of Emerson. Hartman explains his role and describes video games as "trash," but took him in since they require "some small creative effort." Considering the game has a high story-to-gameplay ratio with many Shout-Outs to famous books and films, and how art plays a role in the game's plot, it seems to be a likely Take That towards detractors of the Video Games As Art argument.
Talkative Loon: Plenty of Cauldron Lake Lodge's inhabitants fit this description.
Tentative Light: Some Safe Havens break when Alan reaches them, plus he constantly has to change batteries for his flashlight.
Theme Naming: A couple of the characters are named after authors. Agent Nightingale? Florence Nightingale. The crazy game designer Emerson? Ralph Waldo Emerson. There's probably others that haven't been picked up on too.
The members of Old Gods of Asgard are named for deities in Norse mythology: Odin, Tor, Loki, and (Fat Bob) Baldur.
Theory of Narrative Causality: If you don't come up with a good reason why things happen while writing in Cauldron Lake, the Dark Presence will come up with a reason for you.
Alan groans "You've got to be kidding me!" when he hears the combine harvester spring to life.
This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Driven by his desire to save Alice, Alan leaves the safety of the Well-Lit Room in order to confront the Dark Presence once and for all. He says these words almost exactly.
Those Two Guys: The Anderson brothers. Also the two deputies you only encounter via the radio and a single cutscene.
Time Travel: After drinking the Anderson Brothers' moonshine, Alan somehow travels back in time to the point at which he blacked out after jumping into Cauldron Lake.
More in the sense that Alan's finally able to remember what happened during the week while trapped under the Dark Presence after Alice was taken.
Title Drop: Interestingly, not to the game, but to Alan's book, Departure. During the TV interview in Episode 6, Alan mentions that his next book will be "a departure from the old for me." Well, it was...
An episode of Night Springs, the show Alan started his writing career with, drops the name of another book Alan would later write, Sudden Stop.
Also, Alan himself. In Episode 1, he spends a lot of time running from the first Taken he comes across. In Episode 5, he deliberately leaves the safety of a well-lit pipe to save Sarah and Barry from a horde of Taken, and upon defeating several poltergeist objects, lets out a snarky, "Down, boy." On a more subtle note, if one pays attention, Alan's ability to sprint improves over the course of the game, allowing him to run longer.
Too Awesome to Use: Generally averted, as at the start of each episode Alan's gear from the previous is lost for one reason or another (i.e. being arrested by the police). This means that hoarding those flashbangs and flare guns instead of using them won't help. If you're hitting the climax of an episode, burn through that ammo!
Unfortunately, that doesn't stop players from hoarding them just in case. Flare gun ammo and flashbangs are hard to come by in some levels and it's difficult to predict when you are going to lose all your gear.
After the cable car crashes Alan, loses his gun and flashlight and is surrounded by numerous Taken. Suddenly, a flare is dropped into their midst, and the Taken are destroyed in a hail of pinpoint gunfire. Who is Alan's savior? The kidnapper. Even though technically he's just a con-man.
After escaping Nightingale in the trailer park, Alan is fleeing from the police at night with no flashlight and no gun. Gradually, the Dark Presence takes over the officers, and when Alan is fleeing from a helicopter along a narrow cliff, Taken crows cause it to crash. Of course, soon the Taken officers attack Alan, but by then he's got a new toy - flashbang grenades.
Weakened by the Light: Alan has to use his flashlight to get rid of the shadows protecting the Taken before he can take them down. Flashbang grenades will kill the normal Taken and most Poltergeist Objects while softening up the stronger ones such as the Elite.
The people of Bright Falls don't seem to notice that scores of people are constantly disappearing, that there are dozens of abandoned cars choking the roads, and several buildings are completely demolished by what can only be supernatural forces. One of the manuscript pages does describe two deputies investigating an abandoned logging camp with tons of collateral damage caused by the Dark Presence attacking Alan, and both of them basically agreed that it wasn't their problem.
In the prequel, one of the two above deputies, Deputy Mulligan, is called in when the protagonist of the mini-series has trashed his motel room while under the influence of the Dark Presence. Mulligan notes that the wreck was caused by a 14-point stag and even points out some telltale signs of antler pierces in the debris.
Barry, Sheriff Breaker, and Cynthia Weaver don't appear at all in Episode 6 or the ending.
A Mouse is subverted in Episode 1. A caller on a night radio show says that his dog Toby had run after something rustling in the bushes and is now missing. This is a What Happened to the Mouse? until you play again on Nightmare Mode and unlock an extra manuscript page. Toby's fate is not happy.
What You Are in the Dark: Believe it or not, Agent Nightingale gets such a moment. At the Anderson brothers' farm he has the opportunity to murder an inebriated and passed out Alan but chickens out at the last minute, despite having tried to gun him down twice before.
Wild Wilderness: The whole setting has a feeling of this just like the Geographic Flexibility entry states, but the main portions of it are in fact that Bright Falls is deep in the mountains, hidden away from view of the 'normal world', and no one outside of it even knows it exists.
Could also double as a slightly self-deprecating Shout-Out to the Max Payne series, in which Max's ally from the first game, Vladimir Lem, becomes the villain of the second.
Words Can Break My Bones: Literally near the end, in "The Signal" and "The Writer". Alan takes damage if he runs into the Typewriter words that hasn't been been cleared by light yet. On the flip side, "boom!", "roll", "flash", "tools", "drive", and "red box" helps him out against the Taken.
Word of God: According to Word of God, the "Night Springs" episodes were actually written by Alan earlier in his career. Which might explain some things about his current predicament.
Barry actually mentions this in-game if you watch the episode that's on a TV when he travels with you, but states this particular episode isn't one of Alan's.
Wreaking Havok: The game's physics engine becomes increasingly obvious in the last part of the last level, where the darkness starts throwing really big things at you like a school bus or a boxcar.
You Are Too Late: In this case, after Alan finds an injured Rusty in the dark, he attempts to find the generator to put the power back on, only to find an ax has been put through it.
You Can't Fight Fate: Wake saving the day has been written into the manuscript from the beginning. Player fumbles aside, he's basically predestined to succeed.
You Owe Me: Barry says this to Alan while driving. Alan tells him that they have to go to the Anderson farm when Barry would rather leave town after Alan fought Taken in the Cauldron Lake Lodge garden hedge maze, while Barry kept tabs on their whereabouts for Alan.
I am done with darkness! You're gonna buy me a tanning bed, and I'm gonna live in it!
And Your Reward Is Clothes: The game comes with several avatar awards and even a few gamer pictures to unlock for various accomplishments such as unlocking the first nightmare arcade level.
Arbitrary Skepticism: Alan remarks that "Just because I say crazy things doesn't mean I believe everything." when explaining why he doesn't put a lot of credit in Emma's New Age beliefs, despite his own talk of reality alteration, monsters made of darkness, and time travel.
Asteroids Monster: The Splitter, a new type of Taken can be hurt without burning away its darkness — because if you shine too much light on it, it splits into two more Taken. And these can further split, leaving you with up to four axe-wielding Taken to deal with.
Back from the Dead: Emma, at least twice. She starts to remember her deaths by Act 2, and she and Alan finally figure out how to prevent it in Act 3 by keeping the Taken from knocking out the fuse box to her garage.
Badass: Surprisingly, Alan is upgraded into being one as of American Nightmare, albeit a very polite badass who shows a great deal of concern for people around him caught in his dangerous tale. What makes him badass is how together he is in this game compared to the previous, and how casually he treats fighting the Taken.
Batman Gambit: Mr. Scratch has Alan in a time-loop trap at the beginning of the game, knowing that eventually Alan's odds will run out and Scratch's Taken will get Alan. However, Alan's manuscript notes that Scratch is trapped in the time loop too, which means Alan now knows exactly where he'll be at any given time, and had in fact counted on this, using it as part of his plan to finally escape the Dark Place.
An odd fact may be that Mr. Scratch is aware of this too and is deeply annoyed by the fact.
Bigger Bad: Alan mentions that Mr. Scratch is just a tool of the Eldritch Abominations living inside the Dark Place (of which the Dark Presence was just one), whose purpose is to open the doors of reality to let them into the real world.
Brainwashed: Serena, who's been Darkness touched by Mr. Scratch into being an unabashed slut. She instantly gets better once you turn on the lights to her building, but still retains full memory of it. It's implied that she may have had sex with Scratch, which would make it effectively supernatural date rape.
Card-Carrying Villain: Mister Scratch is aware he's one of these. Bizarrely, he seems to resent it on some level.
Consistency / Rule of Drama: Brought up between Alan and Dr. Meadows, when she asks why Alan can't just give himself superpowers.
Cool Guns: Quite a few of them. Possibly the coolest is the last unlockable gun, the combat shotgun, which is easily identifiable as an AA-12.
Cue the Sun: When you finish a Fight Till Dawn session, the sun rises incredibly quickly and destroys all the Taken still around.
Disc One Nuke: The crossbow, which you can get on your first visit to the Drive-Thru, and doesn't even require any manuscript pages to unlock. It's a one-hit-kill against every single enemy except for the Giant, and even penetrates through darkness shields.
Earn Your Happy Ending: Maaaaaaybe? The ambiguity is lampshaded by the narrator. After all, nothing ever is as it seems... in Night Springs.
Elite Mooks: The game has 4 special types of Taken; Grenadiers that throw grenades at you, Splitters which have enhanced health and divide into multiple Taken when hit with the flashlight, Spectres which also have enhanced health and can "teleport" around by turning into a flock of birds, and the Giant Mook Giants... 12 foot tall monsters wielding concrete saws and capable of surviving 8 times as much damage as a standard Taken (requiring a full mag and a half of assault rifle fire to bring down). Alan remarks that the more varied forms of Taken are a result of the more human-like Mr. Scratch being more creative than the alien Dark Presence from the original game.
Genre Shift: In-universe for Alan: he mentions in a manuscript page that the nature of one of the new Taken that he's encounterde since entering Night Springs makes him think that the genre has been switched from horror to pulp fiction.
"Groundhog Day" Loop: The "game" Mr. Scratch plays with Alan. He ends up reliving the same sequence at least three times, and the confrontation between Alan and Mr. Scratch we see at the start of the game is probably the end point of an earlier loop.
Subverted in that the memory of anyone caught in it gets better and better as the loops occur, which is why in the beginning no one knows each other or anything about what's going on, but by Act 3 Alan and his allies start performing beneficial tasks long before they originally happened. Examples include Emma setting up the oil derrick and Dr. Meadows repairing the telescope before Alan even arrives.
Groundhog Peggy Sue: Everyone, really. As noted above, this kind of makes Mr. Scratch's defeat utterly inevitable, since he'll soon be dealing with a small army of four increasingly Genre Savvy individuals who know the lay of the land and the nature of the enemy, and are coordinating with each other, to boot. Mr. Scratch's whole "game" isn't looking so fun in hindsight.
Hand Cannon: The Magnum is one of the few one-handed weapons capable of one-shotting a normal Taken.
Hand Wave: In one manuscript page, Alan admits that he has no idea how he boosts his flashlight beam.
Lampshade Hanging: During a radio interview, the Old Gods of Asgard take offense to the observation that their comeback album sounds drastically different from their speaking voice. This is because it's actually being sung by Poets Of The Fall.
Nail 'Em: One of the new weapons is a nailgun, described by the developers as a semiautomatic SMG.
Nerf: Flashbangs and flareguns have been drastically reduced in power, now only insta-killing Taken that are right at the center of the blast. In the first game they were basically the end-the-fight-now button.
On the enemy side, the main Taken enemies no longer throw axes like crazy. This makes them a lot less annoying.
Nintendo Hard: The Nightmare Fight Till Dawn levels. As opposed to waves, like in the normal version, Taken simply spawn constantly. On top of that, they have increased health. Getting access to the higher-powered weapons is absolutely required, which means collecting manuscript pages in the story mode. By the last two minutes, there are so many Taken that you barely have time to shoot one before another one jumps on top of you; you're better off simply dodging their attacks.
No Arc in Archery: Averted with both the crossbow and the nailgun. With these weapons, it's perfectly possible to hit Taken on the other side of a wall that's otherwise just too high to shoot over.
No Sell: On your side for once. The crossbow shoots right through the darkness protecting the Taken, and is even powerful enough to kill most enemies in one hit.
One-Hit Polykill: The Magnum and hunting rifle are capable of shooting clean through one enemy and killing one behind it; both kill most enemies in one shot on Normal difficulty.
Reality Warper: Alan can now change reality by changing things in the environment to resemble his manuscript pages.
Self-Deprecation: The narration notes that the Dark Presence in the first game "lacked imagination", and that Mr. Scratch is not so limited, hence the more diverse types of enemies.
Sound Effect Bleep: Whenever Alan refers to Mr. Scratch by name on the Manuscript pages, "Scratch" is drowned out by a burst of static.
Smug Snake: Averted. Mr. Scratch seems partially aware he's a Twilight Zone rip-off villain. Some of his conversations also indicate that he's aware Alan might be more than he could handle. He just can't help himself.