Alan Wake EP20: Screw Cupcakes

By Shamus
on May 25, 2012
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

In this video we mention Push the Button, which was one of my early YouTube efforts.

So that’s this week of episodes. We’re hoping to wrap this series up next week. We’ll see how that goes. Now that the plot is moving, we’re engaged, we have a goal, and we care about the characters, it’s time to… what? Maintain the tension and pacing? Don’t be ridiculous. It’s time to bring everything to a halt with even more combat! I don’t know if the rest of the game will fit next week, but we’ll see what we can do.

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A Hundred!2016There are 136 comments here. I really hope you like reading.

From the Archives:

  1. Jake Albano says:

    This sequence with Sarah is possibly the only time I actually enjoyed the combat in this game. And even so her combat taunts get annoying pretty fast.

    Unrelated: Today I finished a playthrough on Nightmare difficulty, and I did it without ever reloading a battery. I feel inordinately pleased.

    • ToastyVirus says:

      How did you manage that?! You poor soul.

      • Jake Albano says:

        Lots of dodging, and lots of dropping a flare and running away to find light. Mostly I died though.

        • Vic 2.0 says:

          Nice! That’s one challenge I’ve yet to take on. Played the game six times now and am still coming up with new ways to play it, noticing things I hadn’t noticed before. The combat is very addictive! And the LP and what seems to be the commentators’ game experience overall covers roughly 75% of what’s in the game, and the other 25% is usually stuff that’s pretty darn interesting.

          Next playthrough, I’m going to see how many times I have to use a weapon (other than the flashlight) against the Taken. If I’m remembering correctly, it’ll only be on the guy in the tutorial and on the dam.

      • Sleeping Dragon says:

        “Why would you do that?! You poor soul.”

        There, fixed it for you.

        On a more serious note, to each their own but I honestly can’t see why I would ever want to do anything that would make me experience more of this game’s combat. Then again, I couldn’t even be bothered to play the game on nightmare at all, manuscript pages be damned.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Your time would be better spent in playing through american nightmare on nightmare difficulty.Plus itd be more fun.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        American Nightmare was nowhere near as good as the original. More variety in weapons and enemies may have been an improvement (arguably), but they weren’t enough to make up for all the flaws they did throw in with it (also to pacify the critics, no doubt).

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I liked this chapter.The combat isnt boring here anymore,because you have companions.I even didnt mind that one time you couldnt pass through a waist high plastic baricade.

    You know,that thing about barry actually being the writer is interesting.He does turn into a hero in this chapter.

    Also,I liked the pages in this chapter,because most of them dealt with barry.

    Nightingale was such a disappointment.I kept expecting to learn more about him as the game progressed,and then finally you get to see the room where he was staying in,and…nothing.It was such a huge letdown.And saying that about the most boring chapter of a game that already bored me half the time is a lot.

    I tried that thing with the flashlight with both the sheriff and barry specifically because of half life 2,but I never got any reaction from them.Where does it happen?

    Also,Mumbles stand up for your self!Chris is takin’ yer jeeerb!

    • Thomas says:

      I feel we should force the Barry thing to be canon. Whoever came up with the cutout thing was a complete genius and having Barry as the hero as the big reveal and final chapter with a ‘Alan you don’t exist’ would be so much fun.

      • MatthewH says:

        Yeah. The crew should stop coming up with better game ideas than the one they’re playing -it makes me wish they could spoiler-warning that one rather than continue this one.

        • Jake Albano says:

          Here’s an idea: The Spoiler Warning crew makes a video game.

          Shamus would build the game engine, Mumbles would line up the soundtrack, Rutskarn would write the story and dialogue, and Chris would be the mastermind behind the ludology aspect.

          Josh can do…whatever the heck he wants to. He doesn’t have a blog so it’s hard to pin down his talents. Besides getting shot at.

          • Amnestic says:

            Josh has a natural ability to find bugs and problems, thus surely he would be well suited for QA testing

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Shamus would go nuts within a week.
              – You know that 237th bugfix you made 10 minutes ago?Well it introduced this new bug that *ghkll*Gah!Stop chocking me!!

            • Jake Albano says:

              Of course! Josh as a bugtester would fit naturally with Shamus as a programmer.

              Josh: “So I found this bug where I walked into the room and and all of the chairs had a spasm.”
              Shamus: “I’ve never had that happen.”

              Sounds about right.

              • ENC says:

                “Josh: “So I found this bug where I walked into the room and and all of the chairs had a spasm.”
                Shamus: “This game doesn’t have chairs.”

                Sounds about right.”

                Fixed.

                • Jake Albano says:

                  But that totally happened in an earlier episode, when Alan is in New York.

                  • Thomas says:

                    Amongst the highest level of QA testers, legendary people in their field, people who have been studying their profession since the very first computer blow up, when Alan Turing broke the enigma code these were the people who pointed out ‘giraffe’ was being randomly inserted ever 27th word, some of them have reached such a peak, that when receiving a game they meditate for three weeks whilst chanting the noise of the AOL 56k modem, and it’s said they can spot a clipping-glitch from the way the rays of light reflect off the surface of a CD,

                    When these people come together, there is one name they whisper and that name is

                    ‘Josh’

                    • Vic 2.0 says:

                      “I liked this chapter.The combat isnt boring here anymore,because you have companions.”

                      What’s funny about this comment, is that adding companions did nothing to change the combat itself. All it did was change your environment… like the game does throughout the entire campaign…

                      The combat, for me, was fun and exciting with or without companions. But I actually found it less satisfying with companions because sometimes they’d steal your kill, etc. I got a slight Gears of War feel from these sequences, knowing I could just hang around and my partners would everything for me.

                      “You know,that thing about barry actually being the writer is interesting.He does turn into a hero in this chapter.”

                      Once. He “saves” Alan and Sarah one time, when they’re coming out of the crypt beneath the church. But notice how he stays in the helicopter all safe at the end of this episode while Alan fights off all the Taken by himself?

                      “Nightingale was such a disappointment.I kept expecting to learn more about him as the game progressed,and then finally you get to see the room where he was staying in,and…nothing.It was such a huge letdown.And saying that about the most boring chapter of a game that already bored me half the time is a lot.”

                      What’s to be said? They wanted him to remain a mystery. They did show him in the game’s ending cutscene, which only reassures you that they didn’t forget about him; they just wasn’t ready to reveal his intentions and motivations just yet.

                      “I tried that thing with the flashlight with both the sheriff and barry specifically because of half life 2,but I never got any reaction from them.Where does it happen?”

                      I can only assume you’re referring to shining the light in their faces so that they put their arms up to block the beam. This can work any time you’re not supposed to be running somewhere or fighting something. Best to try it while in one of the elevators with them toward the end of the episode. You can also shine the light at Barry’s face before leaving the cabin they rent in Episode 2 and it will aggravate him to saying things like “You wanna know where you can shove that flashlight?” and “You’re giving me a migraine, Al” ;)

    • newdarkcloud says:

      The thing with Nightengale, and this is a pet-peeve of mine (particularly in video games) is that his story gets expanded on in the side-material. I hate when games do this. Everything you need to know about the plot should be in the game, period.

      On a side-topic, does anyone else here think that the tone is disjointed because the designers deliberately made it that way as a way to illustrate what happened between Alan, the Darkness, and the manuscript? The game had 5 years, so it wasn’t a rush job. If this is case, I don’t know if I would find that decision, if that’s the case, to be a good or a bad one. Part of me would applaud them for the attempt a meta-commentary. The other part would be mad that the game was deliberately made to have a pretty dumb plot.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        Another thing about Nightingale that might be somewhat interesting is that he’s not really an FBI agent. He was, but he got fired shortly before the events of the game due to his attitude and rampant alcoholism.

        • Mr. Guy says:

          He’s the anti-Johnny Utah.

        • Michael says:

          I keep hearing this, but I still can’t find a source for it… Everything I’ve got says he’s a remarkably shallow character cooked up by a hack writer. But I can’t find any of this “his partner is a taken” or “he was fired from the FBI shortly before the beginning of the game” stuff.

          EDIT: Never-mind, I found it, it’s buried in the “Alan Wake Files” book that was part of the CE…

      • Alex says:

        The thing with Nightengale, and this is a pet-peeve of mine (particularly in video games) is that his story gets expanded on in the side-material. I hate when games do this. Everything you need to know about the plot should be in the game, period.

        Agreed. Having a background story is fine, if it adds to the story in the foreground. But if it’s like Left 4 Dead and the recent Halo games, where the hidden collectibles and environment are the ONLY context for the action, it just comes off as lazy.

        It’s like, developers: I can understand not wanting cutscenes, but you can’t expect audio tapes, writing on walls and manuscript pages to do ALL of the heavy-lifting. None of those clues about who was here before matter, if I don’t care about the characters who are here now.

        This is also why I’m not fond of this practice where if you want to know what happens, you have to buy a separate comic book or whatever.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        “The thing with Nightengale, and this is a pet-peeve of mine (particularly in video games) is that his story gets expanded on in the side-material. I hate when games do this. Everything you need to know about the plot should be in the game, period.”

        I disagree, particularly concerning games of this nature. The beginning pretty much tells you it’s not inclined to explain everything at any given point in the game, and the ending confirms it. If they didn’t want to explain the dark presence, Zane, the Anderson brothers, Emil, Alan’s role in all of this, etc., why do you insist that Nightingale must be explained? For all we know, he has nothing to do with the larger plot of the story; so what makes him so special? Just curious.

        “On a side-topic, does anyone else here think that the tone is disjointed because the designers deliberately made it that way as a way to illustrate what happened between Alan, the Darkness, and the manuscript?”

        Could be. But that depends on what you mean by “disjointed”.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      “I liked this chapter.The combat isnt boring here anymore,because you have companions.”

      What’s funny about this comment, is that adding companions did nothing to change the combat itself. All it did was change your environment… like the game does throughout the entire campaign…

      The combat, for me, was fun and exciting with or without companions. But I actually found it less satisfying with companions because sometimes they’d steal your kill, etc. I got a slight Gears of War feel from these sequences, knowing I could just hang around and my partners would everything for me.

      “You know,that thing about barry actually being the writer is interesting.He does turn into a hero in this chapter.”

      Once. He “saves” Alan and Sarah one time, when they’re coming out of the crypt beneath the church. But notice how he stays in the helicopter at the end of this episode while Alan fights off all the Taken by himself?

      “Nightingale was such a disappointment.I kept expecting to learn more about him as the game progressed,and then finally you get to see the room where he was staying in,and…nothing.It was such a huge letdown.And saying that about the most boring chapter of a game that already bored me half the time is a lot.”

      What’s to be said? They wanted him to remain a mystery. They did show him in the game’s ending cutscene, which only reassures you that they didn’t forget about him; they just wasn’t ready to reveal his intentions and motivations just yet.

      “I tried that thing with the flashlight with both the sheriff and barry specifically because of half life 2,but I never got any reaction from them.Where does it happen?”

      I can only assume you’re referring to shining the light in their faces so that they put their arms up to block the beam. This can work any time you’re not supposed to be running somewhere or fighting something. Best to try it while in one of the elevators with them toward the end of the episode. You can also shine the light at Barry’s face before leaving the cabin they rent in Episode 2 and it will aggravate him to saying things like “You wanna know where you can shove that flashlight?” and “You’re giving me a migraine, Al” ;)

  3. newdarkcloud says:

    Shamus, I think getting all of that done next week is a little optimistic. Unless you make VERY liberal use of fast forward, there still a couple of hours of combat coming your way.

    I think the reason this segment felt different was because it wasn’t in a forest and you had the sheriff backing you up. Breaker’s actually a surprisingly competent AI companion. Plus, she has unlimited flashlight and shotgun ammo.

    Also, “You have the right to remain silent.” might be one of the game’s best, most fitting combat taunts.

    I’m not surprised mumbles didn’t get the song… considering it was made exclusively for the game.

    • Amnestic says:

      A damn sight better than one of the followup taunts at about 20:00. “Chainsaws are noisy!”

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      Yeah, even without doing The Signal and The Writer I seriously doubt it’s possible to squeeze that much combat into 80-90 minutes, and that’s not even counting dying and having to restart a whole sequence several times. Unless it just felt like it was that long…

      • Ranneko says:

        Thanks for mentioning this. I finished episode 6 yesterday and had not actually realised that there were the Signal and the Writer to go. They are pretty cool, they play around a lot more with the combat too.

    • scowdich says:

      That whole “you have the right to remain silent” taunt made me wonder about the police in Bright Falls. In particular, are they usually equipped with axes and shovels, or does being taken make them forget how to use guns, so they have to improvise?

  4. Thomas says:

    This is genuinely a game that could have been better with just some editing. It’d still have flaws, but move the awesome cutscene near to the start, get rid of the kidnapper plot and just have Nightingale take you into custody before it all starts up, continue game.

    You’d have to do some rewriting to get the Old Gods in I guess. Maybe the whole mental hospital bit should be before Nightingale catches up with you.

    I liked the hip flask manuscript :D There was some redundancy though, we saw Nightingale make a self-reference, we read a manuscript on self-reference and immediately after that we read a manuscript self-referencing the situation we’d just seen self-referenced

    • AbruptDemise says:

      Yeah, that’s a bit much all in a row. I think that the page with Nightengale being whisked away, or the hip flask one, should have been somewhere else in the station. Maybe in his office?

      Also, on an unrelated note, if Alan wrote the manuscript in the missing week, when did he record himself talking to the camera? Is that just his subconscious, or the part of him that was still aware while he was Taken? Why did going up to random TVs bring these moments to surface?

      • newdarkcloud says:

        I think that’s just the power of the lake kicking in.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        In the dlcs tvs are the window to your other self,mr scratch.You are stuck in a dream world,while he is in the reality(sort of,its still the dark place,only closer to the real world).So these tvs could be that but in reverse:You are in reality,and you are catching glimps of the dark world where alan was stuck while he was writing.

  5. Ringwraith says:

    Listening to the Poet and the Muse again at the end of episode gave me an interesting thought.
    If Cauldron Lake makes creative people’s creations reality, did the songs written by the Old Gods of Asgard, Children of the Old Gods in particular, make the Taken vulnerable to light in the first place? Seeing as the lyrics are about beating back the darkness with light, then with the lake then surely they actually created the Taken’s weakness?
    If so, then they certainly had cottoned on to the whole thing and were clever enough to take steps to help fight it. Like by also building a stage at their farm and stocking it with pyrotechnics, lights and guns.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      It’s unknown how much music has an impact compared to writing. It’s a much more subjective medium, thus it would be more open to interpretation by the rules of Cauldron Lake. It’s certainly possible, but I can’t help but wonder.

      • MatthewH says:

        If you use music at Cauldron Lake, this is what happens.

        And that’s why it’s Cauldron Lake instead of Cauldron Mountain.

      • Jingleman says:

        I don’t think that there’s any real hierarchy in media as far as the Dark Presence is concerned. Zane was a poet, Wake writes prose, and the Old Gods were musicians. I think that the overwhelming weight of the manuscript pages imply that it’s not the medium that is important, it’s the creative potential in the artist.

        Hartman, the character who knows the most about what’s going on without having lost his mind, brings creative people of all kinds to his lodge/clinic. He even invites the game designer, even though he’s skeptical of games as art (yes, it’s a self-reference from the designers, but the point stands). If writing was really inherently the most potent thing, then why wouldn’t Hartman cater specifically to blocked writers?

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Actually alan says multiple times that written word is the strongest medium and thats why dark presence manifested the strongest to zane and him.

          • Gale says:

            Wait, are we sure that’s an actual thing about the way the Dark Presence operates, and not just Alan Wake being an elitist wank about his favoured medium? I mean, it could be both, sure, but it seems kinda arbitrarily specific for writing to be inherently more useful to the Presence than anything else. I could see writing being easier for it to influence, sure, but saying it’s stronger just seems weird.

            • Ringwraith says:

              Seeing as writing, prose specifically, can easily be the most detailed and explicit of those mediums, I would presume that’s why it has the greatest influence.

            • Jingleman says:

              I don’t remember ever hearing that. Is it in a manuscript page that I missed (the Nightmare mode ones) or something? If Alan really compared the relative usefulness of his art to the alternatives for the Dark Presence’s purposes, I’d like to go back and look at that. If it’s true then I don’t understand Hartman, the Old Gods, the weird painting guy, and a bunch of other things that don’t make sense thematically anymore. Gale’s right, it’s pretty arbitrary.

              Do you remember what act it was? A cursory look at the wiki hasn’t shown me where it would be and as I said, I’d like to hear what Alan said on the subject.

              • Merzendi says:

                From American Nightmare

                “Page 11: The Dangers of Creation

                To change the world, you must craft a blueprint for the new reality. Any work of art will do, as long as it’s a genuine act of creation; that’s what the energies of the Dark Place respond to. The results may be subtle and perplexing, or far-ranging and momentous.

                My area of expertise — the written word — gives much more precise results than music or interpretive dance would, for instance.

                But words can be extremely dangerous. What you define may become reality, but so can that which you imply… Even if you don’t realize you’re doing so.”

                • Syal says:

                  “precise” doesn’t mean “strongest”.

                  You could describe a cup of coffee made with the strongest coffee beans available and so little water you can practically chew it, but it still won’t get you as energized as would coffee from a rock song.

                  (“I drink COFFEE I love COFFEE I want COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE”)

                  • Sleeping Dragon says:

                    I’m not sure if it’s the matter of potency so much as it is the matter of some forms of creative endeavour being more suited for changing reality. Think about every time you’ve encountered a wish granting situation, now while the lake in itself may not be malevolent it will most likely follow the path of least resistance within the limitations that govern it.

                    Personally I believe what Hartman was trying to do was to figure out those laws, which is why he was playing it safe(ish) with media other than writing, probably trying to figure out the minimum stimuli necessary to stir the lake and achieve his goals.

                    Basically if the image of reality you presented doesn’t force the lake to change something it won’t, if it doesn’t prevent it from changing something and it’s the “easiest” way to achieve the final result than it will. For example: you made a painting of yourself with loads of cash in your hands and your wife happens to have a juicy life insurance? I mean, you didn’t exactly put her in the painting sitting next to you. Or maybe you’ll get to participate in the ad campaign for a retirement fund and this will be the setting for the commercial?

                    More so, if you’re using a medium based on metaphor or open to interpretation than the lake may not even bother. It’s not thinking for or against you, it will do as little as possible as long as the laws that govern it are satisfied, and again, we don’t even know those laws in detail. So if you want to play god with the use of the lake you’d better choose a medium that allows you to describe the situation at length and in detail.

                    • Syal says:

                      I would agree it’s probably the most user-friendly medium, but that still doesn’t make it the strongest.

                      (Also, that’s why you should always paint yourself with a huge smile on your face.)

                    • Pete says:

                      “(Also, that’s why you should always paint yourself with a huge smile on your face.)”

                      Simplest way to archieve this would be pernament brain damage or facial mutilation ala the Joker.

                    • Syal says:

                      Pete, you’re confusing simplicity with Corrupt-a-wish. Brain damage is in no way shape or form the easiest way to make someone smile.

                      Seriously, you could buy a winning lottery ticket super easily and have cash and happiness, how is that harder than something killing your wife and screwing up your brain?

                    • newdarkcloud says:

                      The Dark Presence will do whatever it wants if room for interpretation is left. If it can turn the events in question into something that will benefit it, it will.

                      Which is why you must explicitly state how and why things happen if you can. You don’t want the Darkness to decide for you.

                    • Sleeping Dragon says:

                      Afaik we’re dealing with two separate phenomena here. One is the lake’s reality warping power, the other is the Dark Presence which is abusing it but not the source of it. I wasn’t even putting it into the equation here, though if you DO put it in than it is obviously going to use any gap or unspecified area in the reality shift for its own ends.

                      And I agree with Syal, DP aside the lake is not in itself a “corrupt a wish” thing so for all that matters you can make whatever and it may turn out good. The problem here is we don’t know the rules governing the lake, we can’t tell what defines “least resistance” in its works. This is not necessarily equivalent to “least change”, it will most likely be “the least change as long as conditions are satisfied” or even more specifically “the least work”, which is not necessarily the same. For example various aspects of reality may have different resistance to being changed. Does distance from the lake play a factor? Is affecting human will the same as affecting (seemingly) random occurrences (like a lightning strike)? Is it easier to affect small changes over a long period of time or a big, but obvious, change in an instant? What about the “balance” that Alan mentions? A balance of what exactly? What about causality? I’m not saying any of this is relevant, I’m saying we don’t know.

                    • newdarkcloud says:

                      This is the thing. We don’t really know too much regarding the rules of Cauldron Lake. We know enough for the plot to make sense, which is perfectly fine.

                      From what I understand, the Dark Presence IS the source of Cauldron Lake’s power. As people use the lake to bring their creations to life, it grows stronger and stronger. However, it is also bound to its own power. It must play its role if given one and any weaknesses people give it through writing are valid.

                      And the last episode reveals does make it a “corrupt-a-wish” kind of thing if you fail to be specific. Zane wrote that Barbara would come back to life and emerge from the lake. Because he failed to specify exactly how that happened, the Dark Presence “wrote in” its own “how” by using Barbara’s body as its avatar. If you allow the Dark Presence to assert its own interpretation, it will. It won’t always corrupt it, but it will if it benefits itself to do that.

                    • Sleeping Dragon says:

                      Hmm, my personal assumption is that the DP is piggybacking on the lake’s power. It either came from somewhere else, squeezing its way through a loophole in Zane’s wish (I skip the spoiler tags since imho the recent episodes have this part covered) or, and this is a theory I’ve seen floating around the net, was actually created in response to said wish. Now of course once DP is present it tries to use every act of creation to push in a little bit further and to actually manipulate the creative to its advantage. However, it is at the very least implied that while the Dark Place, the realm “within” the lake, is home to the Presence these two are not synonymous.

                      Anyway, afaik we are getting way beyond the lore covered in the game and as such these theories are wild speculation. Unless there is a sequel that covers this in more detail, or one of us is forgetting some relevant material, it’s not possible to decide it one way or another.

                    • newdarkcloud says:

                      Your interpretation could work, but I only have one question to ask: How would creating an Eldritch Abomination be the path of least resistance compared to bringing a recently deceased woman back to life? It seems like simply doing the later would be far easier (with magic, assuming we have a power capable of doing both)?
                      Furthermore, what could be more difficult than creating an Eldritch Abomination to solve all problems? There is a possibility that I am missing something, but for your interpretation to work, these questions would need to be answered.

                    • Sleeping Dragon says:

                      Personally I don’t think the game really answers whether the DP was there from the start and gave the lake its power in order to invade the world or if it was created, or summoned, only when Zane tried to bring Barbara back. I just mentioned the possibility of it being created as something I’ve seen on the net and something that we can’t reject because we don’t know.

                      As for what was easier, we again stumble upon the “not knowing the rules” thing, there could be a dozen of reasons why “creating an Eldritch Abomination” would be easier than bringing somebody back to life. In fact Alan mentions the enigmatic “balance” that supposedly messed stuff in the first place because Zane didn’t adhere to it, which is further supported by the fact that Alan seems to be only able to return Alice to the world by himself staying in the Dark Place. Also, consider Mr. Scratch.

                      Bear in mind that if the power of the lake is “neutral” and only abused by the Dark Presence the lake doesn’t think or plan. It wouldn’t consider “oh, if I bring this thing here this will really give me a lot of work at a later date”. Anyway, I think I am going to bow my way out of the conversation now since, like I said earlier, with the information we are provided we are mostly shooting in the dark right now.

                    • newdarkcloud says:

                      Fair enough. We really only do know enough for the plot to work. And, as time has shown again and again, this novel Alan was writing really does suck.

                    • Vic 2.0 says:

                      Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it sucks…

                • Gale says:

                  Oh, OK. If it’s a matter of writing being sharper on the details, I think it works fine. Especially if the Dark Presence can exert a degree of editorial control over the produced manuscript, it makes sense that it would prefer to work with writers.

                  • Thomas says:

                    I like the idea that music has more effect on the tone and the pace of the world, separating the light and darkness and the flow of people’s passages through it :D

                    It’d be fitting that the Old Gods gave Wake his memory and set him on course, but it’s Alan who walks it

                    • Ringwraith says:

                      They certainly set the tone of the stage fight.
                      They also kind of set the scene of the flashback, as it’s about Alan’s desperate attempts to change destiny, albeit less successfully than the song wants him to.

                • Michael says:

                  Okay, but this may be just personal bias, anyone else bothered by the fact that Zane was a poet?

                  I mean, if writing is the most precise method of manipulating reality, wouldn’t poetry, where less is stated and more is inferred be as unpredictable as, say, music?

                  • newdarkcloud says:

                    This used to bother me too, but then I saw the only two examples of Zane’s work that we know of.

                    The first is the poem he recites in the beginning, during Alan’s Nightmare:

                    For he did not know, that beyond the lake he called home,
                    There lied a deeper, and darker ocean green.
                    Where waves are both wilder and serene.
                    To its ports I’ve been,
                    To its ports I’ve been.

                    And the second work is the page we find in his shoebox in Episode 5 that depicts Alan and the clicker.

                    The first one flowery speech, no doubt. However, it does describe a scene that could realistically happen in fairly good detail. In fact, it could adequately describe Alan arriving at Cauldron Lake. If Zane’s other works can be taken equally as literally, than his effect on the world be only slightly less precise than Alan’s, given that he had at least a base understanding of Cauldron Lake.

                    The second piece isn’t even a poem. It’s a couple of paragraphs that describe his ace-in-the-hole against the darkness in detail. That includes how it works and how it became so powerful. There is the possibility that Zane, becoming aware of the Lake, started writing paragraphs instead whenever he wanted something to happen.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ive noticed an interesting thing about me and the games:
    I dont like architecture.It never impressed me.I hate cities,I dont find bridges and skyscrapers to be imposing*.But I love nature.I enjoy trees,the sound of wind in the leaves,rustling of the grass,view from the top of a hill,view from inside of a canyon,rivers,…And yet,when I play a game,I either dont care for,or hate the nature levels,but am usually intrigued and even impressed by city levels.I loved going through the city in half life 2,despite not caring at all for the look of actual easter european cities.Similarly here,I didnt care at all for the forest level,but I explored the town quite a lot.

    *I do find the work in building one of those impressive though.

    • Thomas says:

      That’s pretty interesting

      I still found that just from something to stop and look at it, the mountain landscapes and views of Cauldron Lake were more beautiful.

      But I think I can understand what you mean about a town. Maybe in a game a town has more story associated with it, more to explore and to gain from the surroundings, whereas it doesn’t really feel like you can learn anything from a forest?

  7. HBOrrgg says:

    This sheriff is pretty chill with mowing down all the people she swore to protect. Between her deputies and all the people she and Alan have killed so far I get the sense that this is less a horror story and more akin to an apocalypse.

    • Dasick says:

      Regarding the ‘kill-count’, it was established very early in the game that the Taken you’re fighting are instances of people overcome by the Dark Presence, and that the Dark Presence can re-spawn the mooks you ‘kill’, so you never actually kill them, just incapacitate, and their numbers and variety grows as the Dark Presence takes more people.

      So while the amount of source files is considerable, it’s not that devastatingly depleting.

      • Mr. Guy says:

        the Dark Presence can re-spawn the mooks you ‘kill’, so you never actually kill them, just incapacitate, and their numbers and variety grows as the Dark Presence takes more people

        [Citation needed]

        • Even says:

          I don’t know about the unlimitedness but American Nightmare does prove that they’re more or less just produced by the dark powers that be. In the main game it was the Dark Presence. For AM, it’s Mr. Scratch.

          http://alanwake.wikia.com/wiki/Return_%28manuscript%29#Page_11:_The_Taken

          http://alanwake.wikia.com/wiki/Return_%28manuscript%29#Page_5:_The_Splitter

          • Thomas says:

            That makes much better story worth. They should have done more with that. The taunts achieved the opposite of establishing that really. I guess they did convey a ‘shell of a person’ sense though

            • Vic 2.0 says:

              “I don’t know about the unlimitedness but American Nightmare does prove that they’re more or less just produced by the dark powers that be.”

              American Nightmare is a spin-off and widely believed to be entirely irrelevant of the official storyline of Alan Wake. Though it could’ve easily worked as a sequel, most people I’ve spoken with interpret Remedy’s introduction of the game to mean it isn’t.

              In the original game, the darkness is that producing monsters, but only taking possession of things and people in the real world. The recycling theory totally fits.

              “They should have done more with that. The taunts achieved the opposite of establishing that really. I guess they did convey a ‘shell of a person’ sense though.”

              They weren’t meant as taunts! I wish I could go back in time and stop the person who called them “taunts” first thereby preventing it from just being mindlessly taken as a fact across the board.

        • Dasick says:

          Wasn’t it an important point in the tutorial? That there is only one guy and no matter how many times you ‘kill’ he just comes back?

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            There was a point in the tutorial?

            • Vic 2.0 says:

              The point of the tutorial was, as it typically is in video games, to teach you how to actually play the game.

              The point of it being a dream sequence was so that you don’t get the feeling that your trainer/presumed guardian is real and capable of entering the “real world” until much later in the game. You’re meant to feel essentially alone in the game, and they did a marvelous job at pulling that off.

              “This sheriff is pretty chill with mowing down all the people she swore to protect. Between her deputies and all the people she and Alan have killed so far I get the sense that this is less a horror story and more akin to an apocalypse.”

              First off, I don’t think Alan ever informs her that they are former humans who have been possessed. Yes, it seems obvious to us after we’ve already been told. But suppose we were never told this. Would we all just assume they used to be real humans or would we take them for monsters, especially given how the models repeat?

              Second, it’s not the Sheriff’s duty to get all emotional and refuse to fire on someone (human or otherwise) who’s obviously trying to kill her. What, would you rather be like the cop off of ‘Silent Hill’ (the movie)? Give warnings to something that is humanoid but so obviously not human and not listening to said warnings, until she’s already been hit by it?

              Finally, as for Alan, he knew he wasn’t killing anyone. Not just from the dream which came true in perfect detail (hard for him to believe it was truly “Just a dream” at that point), but from firing on one already and watching it simply disappear instead of, you know, fall over dead. Same for Sheriff Breaker, after witnessing/making her first “kill”.

  8. Jingleman says:

    On a whim, I looked up the song that Alan finds at the house, which is the same one that plays here, at the end of the episode.

    As Chris said, it’s called “The Poet and the Muse” by Poets of the Fall (as the Old Gods of Asgard).

    After listening to it, I realized that it actually chronicles the whole Thomas Zane story, everything that’s happened with the Dark Presence, where one should look for help, why, and what ultimately needs to be done to free a lost “love.”

    When I played this section, it seemed like the song was just a short message that should have been relayed by the brothers at the lodge. Maybe that’s still the case, but after listening to how much information is in the song, I feel a little better about the brothers sending Alan to the farm to get the whole story, recorded before they started drifting into senility or whatever their affliction is.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      Exactly. The objective was not for him to hear the six words “Find the lady of the light” because yes, if it were, they could’ve remembered that easily enough and just told him. The objective was to give him the key to gaining Cynthia’s trust, and that was the knowledge of the whole story (in case she asked) or at least that she knew Thomas Zane. Cynthia knew that in addition to the Taken, there were threats to her purpose who were 100% human. And any citizen of the town or in the lodge could’ve guessed or heard her nickname somewhere (“Lady of the light” is not too hard to see, given she’s obsessed with light and carries a lantern around with her at all times). So notice that they made sure Alan said “You knew Zane” in his attempts to prove he was a friend upon her request. She knew he wasn’t a Taken because he wouldn’t be talking normally or standing there in the super-bright light unfazed. But she didn’t know if he was someone the Anderson brothers (who are somehow experts at discerning who to trust and who not to) sent to the farm to hear the whole story, one they could not remember.

      Tor: “She used us all, taken from all of us. Took my thunder, the witch.”
      Odin: “And my ravens, what was… what were they? Memory and thought! The hag.”

      Powerful stuff ;)

  9. Dasick says:

    I found this episode to be pretty bad in the ‘people talking over people’ department. I understand, game fatigue leaves little strength to do the whole polite courtsey you-go-first-no-YOU-go-first-but-I-insist dance. But as silly as it is, it really helps with five hosts, and it’s missing from this episode and the last one.

    Sorry if I sound like a jerk bashing this fine piece of entertainment available for $0.00US, but I’m rather pedantic about hearing EVERYTHING you guys say, and it’s begun to be harder and harder.

  10. NonEuclideanCat says:

    You know, for a moment there, I thought Rutskarn saying “Oh shit” when they ran into a bunch of port-o-potties was supposed to be a pun.

    Also, if you realized that you were writing a reality-warping story that was making an Eldrich Abomination more powerful and that you were potentially the only one who could stop it, wouldn’t you write yourself into a Mary Sue?

    • IFS says:

      I can’t believe you would think that rutskarn would ever make a pun that crappy

        • Vic 2.0 says:

          “Also, if you realized that you were writing a reality-warping story that was making an Eldrich Abomination more powerful and that you were potentially the only one who could stop it, wouldn’t you write yourself into a Mary Sue?”

          The rule: All characters must remain true to their own personalities (I’m paraphrasing, of course)

          must be followed.

          “From a story point of view, he’s killed off or otherwise doomed plenty of people to make up for the fact that he’s kept himself and others alive so far”

          Unless every “kill” doesn’t resemble its own citizen of Bright Falls. There may be only a handful of people who’ve been possessed, and the dark presence is reusing them (which would explain both the repeating models and the fact that they disappear when “killed” instead of just dropping).

    • Even says:

      “Also, if you realized that you were writing a reality-warping story that was making an Eldrich Abomination more powerful and that you were potentially the only one who could stop it, wouldn’t you write yourself into a Mary Sue?”

      This. And I don’t see how he’s breaking any of the rules we know. From a story point of view, he’s killed off or otherwise doomed plenty of people to make up for the fact that he’s kept himself and others alive so far and he’s been in plenty of life-threatening situations to put his own long-term survival into question.

  11. JPH says:

    I’ve never understood how someone could not like sweets. Chris, are you deranged?

    • some random dood says:

      Now this may be a mind-blowing concept JPH, but hold on to your hat and give it a try – not everyone in the world is like you. Some even like different things! They may (gasp!) even not like the same things you do!!
      (Why such a nasty reply? I found JPH’s calling Chris “deranged” simply for not liking sweets offensive, especially as it seems a straight comment with no intent at humour.)

      • X2Eliah says:

        I have an even more mind-blowing concept for you. Different people have different senses of humour!

        I know, I know. Totally weird, eh? But, you know, given that JPH is a bit of a regular commenter with a solid history, maybe give her the benefit of doubt and allow that maybe her comment just seems different to you than the spirit it was intented in?

        • Destrustor says:

          Wha? Since when is JPH a girl?

        • some random dood says:

          @X2Eliah
          Yes, different people have different senses of humour. Trouble is, sometimes what someone thinks is funny is actually offensive to another person. In the above case I did not detect any humour, and I found it offensive. Enough so, that it bothered me enough to make a reply about it. Do you expect everyone to always just shrug off something as a joke, or should a person say when they find something that goes beyond what is acceptable to them?

          • X2Eliah says:

            You can voice your feelings without being so extremely insultingly condescending. And if you truly are offended – as in, properly seriously offended – then don’t waste time on snark and belittling, but say it outright.
            Especially if it is an offense by perception – do not let your own post be misconstructed in exactly the same fashion.

            Heck, I should know. People ’round here call me “Captain Hostility” after all *g*.

            • JPH says:

              Yeah, that’s the problem with some random dood’s response; he’s objecting to my hostility in a far more hostile way than my post.

              Out of curiosity, did anybody other than him honestly think I wasn’t lightheartedly joking when I called Chris deranged for not liking cupcakes?

              • Thomas says:

                I didn’t think you were joking, I figured your parents were probably killed by sweet-hating facists and you’ve grown in the streets devoting your life to martial arts training and making sweets to have revenge, but the obsession has consumed you and now the sweets you make have become more important than revenging your parents death. Now your mind can only process in-articulate rage when people condemn the things that you’ve poured your very soul into and made with much too high a price.

                I was going into my secret sweet Illuminati, but you’re clearly just a hipster light-weight wanna be so I don’t want you in my secret society anymore.

      • JPH says:

        Calling Chris deranged was meant as a joke. I know people who don’t like sweets, and while I have a massive sweet-tooth myself, I don’t judge them.

        I apologize, Chris, if my original post seemed hostile.

  12. Mr. Guy says:

    I found the out of left field Bookhouse Boys reference to be really ham handed. Oh, a secret society to fight vague evil headed up by the sheriff. Where do you get these ideas?

    It’s not remotely necessary. This “secret society” doesn’t DO anything. They make no meaningful contribution to the plot. At best, it provides a really contrived reason for why Barry isnt with you in this scene. Really? You couldn’t come up with a better reason than “call a secret society that was never mentioned before and will never be mentioned again”?

    • Thomas says:

      They don’t even need to do it, they’re taking effort to make the excuse weaker. ‘Barry, you’re an agent, can you call everyone and organise them to help’ would be pretty much implied. It’d be very natural as well for the Sheriff to assume Barry is weak and a liability and if you didn’t mention anything, we’d all assume she was giving him an excuse to get him out of the way

    • newdarkcloud says:

      I didn’t even know that was a reference. Mumbles is right that this game is one big reference… and does nothing with it.

      I just assumed “Night Springs” was some code word accepted by the people in the town to evacuate or fight or something. Coincidentally, all of this would have been fixed if they just used the code word to prove it’s the sheriff, then tell the person what they want them to do.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      To me, the task fits. We already know of, like, four citizens who are up in years and seem to know all about the dark presence (Thomas Zane, Cynthia Weaver, and the Anderson brothers). Who’s to say there aren’t more of them who’ve managed to not come off as being so crazy?

  13. Mr. Guy says:

    By the way, Chris, I nominate “forgotments.”.

    I’d like my $500 in cash.

  14. ps238principal says:

    “All I could do was to escape.”

    Does that sound wrong to anyone else, or is it just me?

  15. Thanatos of Crows says:

    Is there something wrong with me or did this session have some Full Life Consequences in it? Mumbles’ ghosts in this episode kinda reminded me of zombie goasts and in ep 18 Josh had to go really fast… Maybe it’s just that I watched them later than usual, or…

  16. TheAngryMongoose says:

    Go on, Kick the Button Alan!

  17. newdarkcloud says:

    Hey. I’m just curious: When are you going to update the Spoiler Warning page? There are still episode from Deus Ex not up there yet.

    It’s no rush, but I feel the need to point it out.

  18. Hitch says:

    The last thing I ever expected to hear Mumbles say: “You need to lay off the vagina, Rutskarn.”

    Oh, and Chris’ comment about Diablo III’s story. I feel I need to defend that game. I think people are being too grandiose in calling it an “Action RPG.” The proper description is “Hack’n’slash Dungeon Crawler.” The story only exists as the flimsiest excuse to keep sending you into “dungeons” be they old buildings, caves, fields or whatever, to kill as many monsters and see what loot they drop. As such, Diablo III’s story works. As literature… not even close.

    • Amnestic says:

      I think the problem is that terminology is pretty vague. “Action RPG” can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. Is Mass Effect an “Action RPG”? A “Third Person Shooter RPG”? A “Space Opera Action Third Person Shooter RPG”? A straight up “RPG”? All of the above?

      Normally I’d just associate Diablo 3 with ‘dungeon crawler’ and leave it at that, but more recently I’ve started hearing people use the term Action RPG to describe Diablo and Diablo-like games (Torchlight, Path of Exile for instance).

      If people went into Diablo 3 expecting some sort of RPG story akin to the bigger RPG titles then really it’s their own fault for not doing their research better. Hell (pun unintended), Diablo 1’s story was as barebones as it could get.

      Here’s a town. Here’s a dungeon. Diablo’s at the bottom. Go kill him.

      Personally I quite enjoyed Diablo 3’s story. Wasn’t expecting an epic and was pleasantly surprised. I had Leah being Diablo spoiled for me before I even finished Act 1 but I still enjoyed it. I think their major move forward was the completely innovative and never before seen mechanic of adding audio logs to the game to help build the world.

      Plus there’s at least two dangling plot threads at the end for expansion bait, though one is far more obvious than the other (and was basically outright stated by Metzen that they’re planning something with it).

  19. guy says:

    It is kind of hilarious how much like Left 4 Dead that sequence is. You guys made the joke about the car alarm shortly before reaching the gate to trigger the Crescendo Event.

  20. Vic 2.0 says:

    So… what, you wanted them all to sit in the jail cell in the dark and have a pow-wow about Alan’s feelings and why Nightingale had it in for him?

  21. The Truth says:

    Totally agree that the driving physics are bad. It’s the only criticism I DO agree with you guys on, however.

    1:12 – As I said in the last video, this isn’t a missing chunk of information you didn’t get earlier; you DID get it earlier. You guys were just too busy goofing off to read the manuscripts, pay attention to the narration and cut scenes, etc. to take note of any of it. 99% of the things you find out in the “big reveal”/”missing chunk” here was told to you before (which you even contradict your own statements to concede to in this video as you did in the last one). So this can’t be blamed for any lack of understanding of or connection to the story.

    2:20 – No emotional connection? Alice’s fear of the dark and then screaming when she’s taken? Alan’s rage at the whole situation, throughout the whole game? Alan’s worrying about her, the recording of Alice (both the faux phone call and the actual recording) in which she expresses her worries for Alan, the flashback in which you get to see how happy they used to be? And then toward the end of that last episode (while you guys were babbling), his feelings of guilt. It’s all there, you just missed it (surprise surprise).

    Knowing “what’s at stake”. All this information was given to you via the story unfolding, particularly in those videos of him in the cabin (that you also talked over). It specifically tells you Alan was trying to save Alice by writing.

    5:38 – Why DOESN’T it “work” when Nightingale uses Brett Easton Ellis’ whole name? That’s how he is known, is he not? He’s not exactly Shakespeare, my friend. Besides, when you reference Stephen King… what do you usually say? Okay then.

    5:50 – The purpose of Agent Nightingale isn’t given in this game, though it does give you more information about him later. A little mystery is hardly a bad thing, in psychological thrillers…

    6:40 – Well the darkness kills TWO people “outright”, and you’re correct in pointing out they are both your “worst enemies”. And the reason for that is quite obvious at this point, they are interfering with the story that would make her/it more powerful.

    But if the insinuation is that it makes the situation less scary for Alan, that’s just dumb. Not only is he the main one being attacked left and right, but he’s witness the darkness kill two other people, slowly, painfully, who actually seemed to be GOOD guys. So nope, no case there either!

    7:15 – More evidence you just simply haven’t been following the story you’re trying so hard to critique. Not only does one of the videos of him in the cabin tell you his story’s being “heavily revised”, but it’s shown you in at LEAST one cutscene how much of a zombie Alan appeared to be while he was writing it. I’ll say it again: The manuscript was an incantation, written for the dark presence and essentially BY the dark presence. Alan didn’t choose to have the dark presence kill off any threats to him (Elsewise, he would’ve chosen to, Idk, not have it send threats BY THE HUNDREDS his way as well?) Those who would capture Alan, keeping him locked up so he couldn’t get to the locations in the story, were killed off by the dark presence specifically so the story could progress and the dark presence could get stronger.

    That girl, whining about the reading? ….What reading have you guys even done to begin with? Seriously.

    8:00 ish – The manuscript was “poorly written” because it wasn’t written for the purpose of being art. It wasn’t meant to be interpreted, judged, or likely even SEEN by anyone but Alan. It was an incantation, essentially written by a being who could give less than a shit about what you think of its “quality”. And I think the fact that you SOMETIMES (very rarely) find a manuscript that covers something you just experienced makes the whole game more believable. It makes sense that Zane would not be able to put everything EXACTLY where it “needs to be”. He even tells you “It’s hard” to deliver them to the right places, in another scene where you guys were making jokes instead of listening, IIRC.

    And the way they made Alan’s voice in the reading of the manuscripts actually makes TONS of sense, from any angle. Right away, recall that this game was very much going for a movie sort of feel. Well it’s customary for the reading of something written to be done by whoever wrote it, in movies. That would be Alan! And then why was the voice so droning? Because as the cut scene (thatcha missed) earlier showed us, he was in a bit of a possessed zombie sort of state. Couldn’t be any more on the money than it was.

    8:28 – I would chalk the flashlight thing up to Nightingale wanting it for himself and move on. A much better question would’ve been, “Why hasn’t the Sheriff confiscated my guns and ammo? Do I have a permit for these things? I think not!”, which would’ve at least been a good question until considering what just happened. If I were LE, and there was a civilian who seemed to know a little something about a clearly supernatural force which could kill an FBI agent in less than a second… I’d arm him myself!

    9:25 – I hope that’s a joke, because there’s no way any cop (no matter how competent) could stop something such as this.

    11:20 – Criticizing the whole “In light you can hurt them” message near the police station. So you’re implying now that Cynthia had a way of knowing where Alan would be, when, and why?

    …How? :P

    Anyone who’s seen Tremors might find themselves on the roof at the slightest irregularity. It’s not unreasonable. Good vantage point, and not every monster knows how to climb a ladder or jump real high. And I’m not even sure the game specifies she wrote all that stuff just for him in the first place.

    13:23 – I would actually do that, rather than climb the fence. Much rather climb a ladder which is meant to be climbed, especially if I didn’t know I’d be attacked by birds up there (which he didn’t).

    15:00 – The goals throughout the game are spelled out for you, and the point of the combat was survival. It’s quite normal for video games to not give you a bigger objective until the second half of the game, particularly in the horror/thriller genres. And repetition of enemies is very common in video games, particularly shooters.

    15:30 – What about getting a break from the woods? Do you not recall that the last half of the last episode was on a farm, where there were only trees in the DISTANCE? And not long before that, you were in a lodge and then a labyrinth? You guys have a very special sort of amnesia.

    And what a weird statement! Though there are a couple elements that are similar with Left 4 Dead in this area… it doesn’t look like it in the slightest.

    18:35 – A likely explanation for why the Taken are only adult males is that the dark presence took just a handful (recycling their bodies, by the look of their bodies simply disappearing when you “kill” them) in the middle of the night, where the vast majority of people out are male. Note that they are campers, hunters, fishermen, joggers, etc. Though women and child DO get involved in these activities, it’s primarily men out at night doing this stuff.

    18:55 – “I’m not sure anything here qualifies as an ambush.”

    Correct. It’s no surprise you’re attacked. But you’re kind of trapped in there; THAT’S the point.

    19:35 – “So… how does the town go on after this?” Both the repetition in models and the fact that the Taken simply disappear when you “kill” them suggests you’re only fighting a handful of the citizens turned zombie creatures. This would answer your question here as well as counter your suggestion that Sheriff Breaker should’ve known something was going on. The reason most of the town is oblivious is that there’s only a few people missing, and we don’t even know if they were all taken at about the same time.

    20:17 – The ending implies some things were rewritten. So the float comes back. Relax :P

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