The lights are on
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SPOILER ALERT: This blog reveals the conclusion of Alan Wake."It's not a lake... It's an ocean." This is the last line of dialogue uttered by Alan Wake. He says it confidently. His tone carries the sentiment of closure and hope. His battle with the darkness is over. He can control it now. He can rewrite his life. All is well for him…apparently.This final moment is poetic…chaotic…confusing as hell. What does it mean? Almost every gamer I talk to interprets its meaning differently. Some people latch onto the same idea, but no two thoughts are identically aligned. Alan Wake’s finale is designed to be misleading, but it does have a definitive ending. Remedy says the “true” ending will be revealed when Alan Wake returns. All signs point toward the ray of clarity coming on July 27, when Alan Wake’s first DLC offering, “The Signal,” hits Xbox Live.So what are some of the theories that gamers have concocted? In my mind, Alan never set foot in the forest. He never fired a shot. There isn’t a Dark Presence in the world. And he certainly didn’t battle a combine. He’s a writer – a crazy, sleep-deprived scribe who has either been institutionalized at Cauldron Lake Lodge, or has fled his New York City home to the most remote location on the planet to write his new book. The game is in turn a journey through a writer’s mind as he dreams up his next adventure. The line “It’s not a lake… It’s an ocean” hints that Alan’s next book will take place near an ocean. Game Informer’s Phil Kollar agrees that the final line comes off as a writer realizing something about his story but thinks that the supernatural elements still exist in Alan’s world. “He is writing a story,” Kollar says. “What he’s writing is affecting that world, which would mean the Dark Presence is real and is a viable threat to him.”And what if the dark presence was a bully of artists? “The Dark Presence seems to be a force that finds power in the imaginations of the artists that it snags into its world,” explains Game Informer’s Matt Miller. “Alan defeats the Dark Presence by playing by the rules of his chosen art form – narrative. Unfortunately, the narrative style demands a bittersweet ending. Alan's sacrifice sets him up on the very edge of this vast blackness that is the Dark Presence. By sacrificing himself to its embrace, his only way out will be to pass through the ocean of darkness that stretches before him, rather than flee from it. Because the Dark Presence uses the thoughts and imagination of the artist, this ocean of darkness will be built on Alan's experiences and fears, but twisted into a terrible nightmare version of those memories. Unlike before, it is now Alice waiting outside that darkness, desperately trying to find Alan and bring him back. It will only be by following the light of her voice and love that Alan will be able to re-emerge into the real world.”Some people believe everything happening in the game is actually happening to Alan. Game Informer’s Bryan Vore is in this camp. “I take the story at face value. Alan follows in Thomas Zane’s footsteps – writing himself out of existence to save his wife Alice. He’s still alive, and still uses the lake’s power to manipulate reality, but I don’t think he’s stuck in a loony bin, drooling on himself.”Other popular theories are tied to the name of the protagonist: A. Wake. They say that the name says it all. He can’t sleep. Everything that is happening to him is from sleep deprivation. The ending sequence is filled with carefully placed dialogue by Alice telling Alan to “wake up.”A character named Mr. Scratch periodically pops into this fiction. As many of you probably know, Mr. Scratch is a nickname for the Devil. The belief tied to this angle is that Alan is sacrificing his soul to attain his dream of getting Alice back.And if you think this is stretching it, other people believe that Thomas Zane (another writer in the game) created Alan Wake. Alan is supposedly a character in his books. Alan is his Jack Ryan. One person I talked to has even gone as far to say that Alan Wake and Clay Steward – a character from the supplementary Alan Wake Files that came with the Collector’s Edition – are the same person. If you read this material, you learn that Clay and Alan share the same dreams.As frustrating as it can be not knowing what actually took place in a game I invested days of my life in, I have to tip my hat to Remedy for creating such an amazing topic for discussion. Seeing how friends and fellow gamers are interpreting this game’s story has been just as much fun as playing through it. I just hope that Remedy doesn’t skimp on the answers like the writers of Lost did in their series finale. A mystery is only as good as the answers it gives in the end.
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