At this stage, it shouldn't surprise you to learn that the worlds of Alan Wake 2 and Control have collided. The Remedy Connected Universe may have only become public knowledge in 2020, when the AWE Expansion put Jesse Faden on a collision course with the incident in Bright Falls, but this concept of a wider universe is something leadership at Remedy has been thinking about for far longer. In fact, it's the studio's enduring efforts to get Alan Wake 2 off the ground which ultimately led to the creation of games like Quantum Break and Control.
"Sam has been trying to make this game for 13 years," says Kyle Rowley, who served as lead designer of 2016's Quantum Break and is now game director of Alan Wake 2. "Every time we started a project like Quantum Break, that started off as Alan Wake 2 and shifted into Quantum Break. Control started off as some kind of game related to Alan Wake 2 and shifted into Control. But this time, we're going to do it. The longer it goes, the more messed up Alan becomes. So I think now is about the right length of time to get him out and talk about that stuff."
The original Alan Wake is remembered today as one of the best Xbox 360 games – a 2010 exclusive which blurred the lines between supernatural horror with sharp action sensibilities. A critical darling that failed to get the sellthrough to warrant an immediate sequel, with a failed pitch to Microsoft ultimately pushing Remedy to shift its attention towards Jack Joyce and his enduring attempts to halt the unraveling of time. After Quantum Break, Remedy's creative director started thinking about how he could help Alan Wake escape the Dark Place once again.
"I always felt that we were going to get here. I never gave up on the idea through the years," says Sam Lake. "I was really really excited and happy to be making Quantum Break and happy to be making Control, and all of it, but… it always felt to me like we can't leave the poor guy in the Dark Place. We owe it to him."
Looking back at that journey all these years later, it's interesting to see how the decisions Remedy made along the way have defined the path it's on now. Take Alan Wake 2, which features a dual-protagonist setup where you'll experience parallel storylines: FBI Agent Saga Anderson, who is investigating a series of ritualistic murders in Bright Falls, 13 years after the mysterious disappearance of a celebrity writer; and that of Alan Wake, who is attempting to write his way out of the nightmarish Dark Place. But Alan Wake 2 isn't the first time Remedy has played with the concept of twin heroes.
"Coming out of Quantum Break, the idea of two hero characters in [the Alan Wake] sequel was there," says Lake. It's an interesting reflection, given that Quantum Break originally featured multiple protagonists – rather than learning about Beth Wilder's attempts to survive the end of time in exposition, Remedy considered letting us experience it first hand. While we never saw that version of Quantum Break, we did eventually get to steer the actor responsible for bringing Wilder to life around a series of supernatural environments – Courtney Hope went on to star in Control as FBC director Jesse Faden.
As Remedy began to prototype a version of Alan Wake 2 following the completion of Quantum Break, with the idea of two hero characters percolating, the team ultimately went in a different direction as it began experimenting. "We ended up bringing gameplay elements into it that made it even more action-y, and also less linear in a way – a kind of Metroidvania idea," Lake continues. "Ultimately, we were looking at it and we were going 'it doesn't quite feel like Alan Wake'. So those design ideas ended up going forward, and that's how Control was born."
Of course, just because Remedy ultimately switched its attention to building a new IP doesn't mean that it left the idea of one day returning to Alan Wake 2 behind. "We never gave up on the idea of Control having an element of Alan Wake, which led to the idea of concretely taking a step forward with the idea of a Remedy Connected Universe," Lake teases. "We knew that they are in the same universe, we just didn't want to say anything beforehand – it was a surprise to be discovered. Then, once that was discovered, we started talking about the ideas and for the AWE DLC we could do a full crossover thing to set up the sequel of Alan Wake 2."
Given how much Alan Wake 2 has been on the minds of Remedy developers for over a decade now, how packed with hints to the wider Remedy Connected Universe is this thing going to be when it launches on October 17? As Lake tells it: "There's a lot of meta in this experience to be discovered. More so than ever before. We are going crazy."
Alan Wake 2 is one of our most anticipated upcoming horror games and it's set for release on October 17, 2023, for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X.