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To Die at the Hands of Your Own Creation

Rob Zacny | 14 Jun 2011 08:46
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Along with the Taken, the Dark Presence possesses pieces of scenery and hurls them at Wake. It prompts him to recall his hero, Stephen King, and "all the inanimate objects that had come to life in his hands." For Alan, the problem is the opposite. Animate objects turn dead and wooden. The Taken become caricatures, the world becomes murky and indistinct, and the Dark Presence grows stronger.


Alan Wake finally embraces its identity as a metaphor in "Truth," its fourth chapter. Wake finds himself at the Cauldron Lake Lodge, an asylum for "creative personalities" run by Dr. Emil Hartman. This is where Alan Wake finally gives voice to Remedy's frustrations with the creative process in a commercial, collaborative medium.

At the asylum, Wake meets a game developer, a pair of musicians, and a painter. They are all being treated for work-related problems, a process in which they are encouraged to create. Hartman himself remarks that what his patients need is a producer, and he nominates himself to give them guidance and direction, turning their talents to the ends he envisions.

During his time at the Cauldron Lake Lodge, Wake can talk to the other patients and explore the lodge a bit. One of the first patients he meets is Emerson, the game designer. Emerson's room contains a 360, a whiteboard showing a level map and some diagrams for Alan Wake, and a game board covered with a map of Bright Falls. Later, Wake finds him in the midst of a monologue in which he shares his nightmare vision: other people trying to make contributions to his game. He describes how publishers corrupt his vision with market research, and how the writers pollute it with characters and dialogue. Emerson wants no part of collaboration, or anything beyond gameplay.

Out on the balcony overlooking a lake, the painter, Lane, is finishing a portrait of Alan Wake. In another room, one of his canvasses contains a version of Alan Wake's cover image. He has done a series of pictures showing people with the dark, blackened features of the Taken. Finally, there are the old rock musicians, Tor and Odin Anderson. The Andersons once had a band called The Old Gods of Asgard, and their songs play a key role in the plot. Their songs, however, are written and performed by Poets of the Fall, a real band that Remedy also used for Max Payne 2. Taken together, the residents of Hartman's lodge are the people who made Alan Wake, and they are shown in the game making their contributions.

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