Alan Wake 2 story theories – are there any secrets hiding away in the reveal trailer?

Alan Wake 2
(Image credit: Remedy Entertainment)

There's only so much information you can ultimately glean from a CG trailer, right? Remedy Entertainment finally revealed Alan Wake 2 with a sizzling teaser, a mood piece that sets the stage for the survival horror experience that's primed to launch on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X in 2023. After a decade-long wait for a sequel, 57 seconds of footage is more than enough to start building Alan Wake 2 story theories. 

Remedy says that it is "going dark" while it works on Alan Wake 2, promising more details over the summer. But it's worth remembering that nothing appears in trailers like this without being purposefully created and placed. Fans of Alan Wake and the broader Remedy Connected Universe will likely spend weeks dissecting these 57 seconds of footage to see what they can uncover, but here are the Alan Wake 2 story theories and pieces of connective tissue I've been able to pick up on so far.

Mr Scratch

Alan Wake 2

(Image credit: Remedy Entertainment)

Something that immediately jumped out to me in the Alan Wake 2 reveal trailer is from an early scene, where we see an empty Bright Falls with signage for Deer Fest sagging from shuttered buildings. To the right there's an advertising board with the following 'Quote of the Day' scrawled in chalk: "Your friends will meet him when you're gone."

There's a good chance that this is referring to Mr. Scratch. While Alan Wake's American Nightmare establishes that Alan Wake's evil doppelgänger had been defeated, his return was all-but confirmed by Control's AWE – the expansion which further bridged the gaps between the two franchises. Wake is concerned that Mr. Scratch remains active, although Thomas Zane assures the writer that he is "dealing with him" in the real world. While Wake was trapped in the Dark Place, perhaps Zane was able to keep Mr. Scratch at bay, although now that he's free and out in the world again friends like Barry Wheeler could be in danger.

Alan escapes Bright Falls

Alan Wake 2

(Image credit: Remedy Entertainment)

And what of the urban city we see, cast under a cloud of shadow and rain. While there aren't any obvious place names to indicate where Alan is, we do see a Subway entrance – a globe lamp above it and a specifically structured sign beneath it, hallmarks of New York City. From what I can tell, there is no Caldera St. Station (B D 4) in NYC, but one of those trains could feasibly run straight through Manhattan – which just so happens to be where The Oldest House (and Director of the Federal Bureau of Control, Jesse Faden) resides. 

Listen, I'm from the UK, so if I'm wrong blame the confusing MTA website. Thankfully, my inability to properly understand official guidance isn't the only clue that points to New York City as a central location in Alan Wake 2. In Alan Wake Remastered (which released earlier this year), Remedy integrated three brand new 'Visions' into the game – QR codes are scattered between Episode One, Episode Two, and Episode Four, which open up videos of Wake trying to monologue his way out of the Dark Place when scanned. 

Visions of Alex Casey

Alan Wake 2

(Image credit: Remedy Entertainment)

There's a common theme running throughout two of the three visions: Alex Casey. He's a fictional character created by Wake, the protagonist of a series of "hard-boiled crime books set in New York City." Wake ultimately killed Casey off in a book titled 'The Sudden Stop' after growing "sick of" the character, but he never left him behind entirely. As Wake continues in Vision 01: "The Alex Casey books, a detective solving cases of murder, corruption, and madness in the dark city. This place tapped into my unconscious mind, drew from there, twisting what it stole into a nightmare that took shape around me."

Alan Wake has been trapped in the Dark Place for years by the time we see him in these Visions, attempting to write his way out of the prison deep beneath Cauldron Lake – a space that can manifest what he writes into reality. Wake mentions that he "needed a detective to guide me" through the mystery story he was inadvertently writing, that the Dark Place was twisting, and that "Echoes of Casey haunted me." Has Wake brought Casey to life in an effort to help him escape the Dark Place?

In Vision 02, Wake mentions that he is picking up on "ideas I had lost, often of Casey," as he continues writing his manuscript in the Dark Place. It seems plausible that Wake is trying to engineer his release with the help of a character who always sounded a lot like another New York resident – a Mr. Max Payne. And then there's Control's AWE expansion, which makes mention of one Alex Casey – FBI agent attempting to investigate Alan's case, which ultimately drew the attention of the FBC. This could be a red herring on AWE's part, but given how deliberate Remedy has been since it acquired the rights to Alan Wake in 2019 it could be a telling clue. 

Lastly, I just want to point out one detail in Vision 03. In this monologue, Alan Wake sounds as if he is essentially writing the opening to Alan Wake 2. "A beginning. A primordial forest. The colours of the fall. The mist. A caldera lake…" let's pause here for a second. A caldera lake. Unless I'm mistaken, Cauldron Lake is itself a cadera lake – a crater formed during a volcanic eruption. And what was the Subway station we spotted in the Alan Wake 2 teaser trailer called again? "Caldera St. Station." Huh.

Wake continues: "The man is afraid, beside himself. Who is he? He doesn't himself know. Dark waves have washed it away, a blank page where this horror story can be written. He remembers darkness, feels the shadow pressing down on him. He must get away. He runs to the forest, to a fate worse than death."

We know that Alan Wake 2 will be Remedy's first survival horror game. Wake himself is indicating in these Visions that his only escape from the Dark Place involves writing a story in which he awakens without any memory and requires a detective to help guide him to answers. So I'm calling it now, Alan Wake 2 will be split between whatever remains of Bright Falls and a New York City inhabited by both Alex Casey and Jesse Faden, as he attempts to recover his memory and stop new tears in reality from opening.  

And if I'm wrong? Who cares! We're finally getting an Alan Wake sequel after all this time. We deserve a little speculation, don't you think?

With Alan Wake 2, Remedy proves that writing really can affect reality.

Josh West
UK Managing Editor, GamesRadar+

Josh West is the UK Managing Editor of GamesRadar+. He has over 10 years experience in online and print journalism, and holds a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Feature Writing. Prior to starting his current position, Josh has served as GR+'s Features Editor and Deputy Editor of games™ magazine, and has freelanced for numerous publications including 3D Artist, Edge magazine, iCreate, Metal Hammer, Play, Retro Gamer, and SFX. Additionally, he has appeared on the BBC and ITV to provide expert comment, written for Scholastic books, edited a book for Hachette, and worked as the Assistant Producer of the Future Games Show. In his spare time, Josh likes to play bass guitar and video games. Years ago, he was in a few movies and TV shows that you've definitely seen but will never be able to spot him in.