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I am Awake / 13th of January 2016

“She’s dead, wrapped in plastic,” mutters Jack Nance over the telephone to town sheriff, Harry S. Truman, setting in motion a chain of events that takes a beleaguered horror writer from the relative comfort of his home in New York to the sprawling, majestic Pacific North West. Naturally, I am blending together two unadulterated cult hits, one a pop culture phenomenon and the other its imitator, yet the two are so superbly intertwined that they could conceivably exist within the same fictitious universe - the Lynchian world - where the façade of idyllic lifestyles, whether suburban or country based, hide beneath them a melting pot of pure, almost never ending darkness. For as Remedy’s own Alan Wake himself discovers and pronounces in the game’s superb, cliff-hanger finale, “It’s not a lake, it’s an ocean.”

I am perhaps rambling incoherently now, lost in the illness induced fervour that had me revisit my Twin Peaks: The Complete Mystery bluray boxset in order to watch every episode, extra and film that it had to offer over a meagre two-day period, and when it was over, my first instinct was to then revisit the town of Bright Falls. Sure, sleep also sounded like a pretty logical step to take, just not as logical, and so it was that with a torch, a thermos of coffee and a damn fine slice of cherry pie I once again entered the woods to face the nightmare. Perhaps unsurprisingly it was then that it hit me, again, just how close the relationship is between the franchises, which then led me think that with Twin Peaks returning to our screens next year, wouldn’t the time be right to start putting resources into Alan Wake 2 as well?
Very little is known about the new series of the show, but it is likely to centre on Dale Cooper’s attempts to escape from the Black Lodge and return to reality once again, and when we last left Alan, following the XBLA follow up, American Nightmare, well, that was precisely the point he was at too, though Mr Wake’s nefarious doppelganger, Mr Scratch had been defeated. Still as a key plot point, the two are extremely similar which could indeed be a valuable asset in converting more “Peakies” to the cause, though surely you’d have thought the first game would have had more than enough about it to have achieved this, right?

The town of Bright Falls is itself based on the same small town in Washington where the pilot for Twin Peaks was shot, the diner is based on the same one featured in the show, the narrative centres on a dark presence in the surrounding woodland, you collect coffee and there are even signposts that look remarkably similar to that of the Great Northern Hotel, though sadly the Horne family are not present. How could that not sell it to them? It did it for me, though I was one of those poor souls who sat and waited patiently for the game’s release from the point of its initial announcement, and fearing disappointment after such a lengthy wait, I was delighted to find that – despite some cut-backs owing to hardware limitations – it was still a masterpiece that for reasons that escape me saw the initial sales perform rather poorly. Yes, Red Dead Redemption launched on the same day, and there were those who didn’t quite understand its forward thinking TV style presentation – though these same people probably now drool incessantly over the fact that Netflix allows them to watch whole seasons of shows at their own pace by releasing the whole lot together, something that Remedy pre-empted with Alan Wake.
I’ve already stated my excitement over the possibility of Quantum Break’s TV show/video game crossover being applied to Alan Wake 2, and I still am, but what I’d really like to see, and I’m sure that Sam Lake himself would probably agree with me here, is to have David Lynch involved to some extent. Whether he comes on board as co-writer, cut-scene director or perhaps even better, director of the TV show elements that would intertwine with the interactive elements, why not at least try to get him engaged with the project? Why not go to the extent of getting his regular composer, Angelo Badalamenti – the genius behind the original scores for Blue Velvet, Lost Highway, Twin Peaks and many more – to create the music for it? If the team at Remedy are going for the Twin Peaks look and feel, then why not just go all out? Of course, having said that, the Bright Falls series of shorts that acted as a prequel to the first game was excellently put together, superbly capturing the mood that would help to make the game so absolutely special to those who embraced it, but still, nothing quite has the same ring to it as reading “Directed by David Lynch” on a credit roll.

Alan Wake 2 has been a dream now to its fans for well over five years already, and they will likely wait another five more if needed, they have a passion and fervour for the IP that very few other games could ever hope to have even fleetingly. Given the recent Easter egg video section that the Remedy team have not long finished shooting with Sam Lake playing FBI agent Alex Casey (which just happens to be the name of the hardboiled New York detective that is the protagonist of six Alan Wake books), the possibility of the game coming sooner rather than later is a distinct possibility, but regardless of when it comes or what form it takes, there’s one thing for sure, “I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange”.
James Paton
Gaming's Misguided Journey Towards Growing Up
 
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