The Seven Political Myths of ‘Alan Wake’

by Eugen Pfister

In May 2010, a handful of games journalists are led into a forest in the middle of the night. There they are ambushed and threatened by knife-wielding “maniacs driven by dark forces”[1]. They manage to escape when a flare is let off, which drives their pursuers away. Just a perfectly ordinary PR stunt, apparently, by the Finnish games company Remedy. The developer enlisted the British theatre company Punchdrunk to get the journalists in the mood for the upcoming release of their new psychological thriller and action game ‘Alan Wake’. In fact, you do spend much of your time during the game in the woods at night pursued by shadowy possessed figures who you are only able to defeat by means of light. It is the story of Alan Wake, a young and choleric horror novelist who is suffering from acute writer’s block. On the advice of his wife Alice, he goes away with his wife to the picturesque town of Bright Falls on the Pacific coast to stay in a remote cabin to unwind, and to find himself. A dark force, or to be more precise, the primeval ‘Dark Presence’ soon destroys the supposed idyll. His wife disappears, the novelist loses his memory and in the ensuing battles against poltergeists and the possessed inhabitants it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between reality and fiction. It is the story of a privileged WASP writer from the city (with a huge apartment in New York) who, as well fighting for survival in the new surroundings of a former mining town which has seen more prosperous times, finds his very identity is under threat. It is the story, of the quasi all-powerful male hero (here as writer) and his damsel in distress. It is a tale of genius and madness, of brilliant authors and insane psychiatrists.

Game name: Alan Wake
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Creators: Miakel Kasurinen (Designer), Olli Tervo (Programmer), Sam Lake, Mikko Rautalahti, Petri Järvilehto (Writer)
Year of release: 2010
Platform: XBOX360, Windows
Setting: Horror; Thriller
Genre (ludic): Action; Adventure
Gameplay: Third person shooter with puzzle elements

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