Alan Wake and the Art of the Meta Narrative

Video games are no strangers to breaking the fourth wall or, in some cases, outright shattering it. There are countless examples, but none have struck me as profoundly as the recent Alan Wake II and developer Remedy’s Connected Universe. When Alan Wake was originally released on the Xbox 360 in 2010, it quickly became one of my all-time favorites. Still, since then, Remedy has grown, evolved, and even gone so far as to define the approach to crafting a self-aware narrative. Join me as I walk through how each of their titles has built upon this concept, culminating in the masterpiece that is Alan Wake II. A Brief Overview of Remedy’s Connected Universe Remedy Entertainment’s Connected Universe is a relatively recent development in the studio’s history, but it’s an important one and a key differentiator in their work. Fans have speculated that the studio’s games have been connected for a decade. Still, it wasn’t confirmed officially until the release of Control’s AWE Expansion in 2020, which was a crossover between Alan Wake and Control. Sam Lake, Creative Director at Remedy Entertainment, described the concept as: “The idea that the tales told in some of our games would be connected to each other, a connected world of stories and events with shared characters and lore. Each game is a stand-alone experience, but each game is also a doorway into a larger universe with exciting opportunities for crossover events.” The release of Alan Wake II furthers this bridge between it and the universe of Control, but other hints point to past titles like Quantum Break being involved (even if Remedy can’t outright confirm this due to legal issues that we’ll discuss later). The official bond between these two games has sparked speculation and excitement about what comes next. It’s an exciting time to be a gamer and a Remedy fan, but let’s talk about everything that led up to this blending of two worlds. 2010: Alan Wake Debuts on Xbox 360, and it Begins… It’s insane to me to think that Alan Wake came out thirteen years ago. I lived in an apartment with two roommates and worked full-time at GameStop. I remember getting the collector’s edition home and jumping right into it. It was magical, but given my unstable setup, something knocked the Xbox 360, putting one of those perfectly circular scratches in my disc. I had to beg the store manager at GameStop to swap it for another copy. It was not the best start, but we were back in business the following night. The layers of the original Alan Wake are pretty easy to spot. Still, they’re crucial for grasping how Remedy and writer/director Sam Lake’s style has evolved since that initial release. For those unaware, the game stars a writer named Alan Wake, who takes a trip to a small town in the Pacific Northwest called Bright Falls. He hopes to get past his recent writer’s block and spend quality time with his wife, Alice. Right off the … Read More