The Incredible Exposition of Alan Wake, Ep 4
The last time I talked about Alan Wake, I mentioned a few of its more brilliant plot points from the first three episodes. Well, I’m still hooked, and I recently finished the game’s fourth episode. I must warn that there are spoilers to come, as episode 4 is entitled “The Truth,” and boy, what an apt name to call it by. So if you don’t mind this great game being spoiled, I’d like to talk about its gentle handling of exposition.
After spending a few too many cool summer evenings jogging through the woods and battling a couple hundred shadow-possessed rednecks, cops, loggers, and campers along the way, Alan accidentally slips off a mile-high ledge and falls dramatically (lit flare in hand) into the murky Cauldron Lake below. He then wakes up in a clinic for insane artists. Masterfully, rather than you playing the game, the game plays you for a bit, and you can’t be sure whether the darkness is real or if Alan is insane! This lasts for about eight minutes, and then the darkness attacks the clinic and transforms the patients and staff into monsters. With Alan’s sanity assured, he escapes with the help of his agent Barry.
Barry and Alan drive along the road, bickering about something. At this point, it’s easy to become a bit bored because Alan explains stuff we already know: Cauldron Lake is evil and makes the creative work of artists come true. Cauldron Lake doesn’t like being invoked like this, so it interrupts the scene by making Barry drive like an idiot and swerve off the road.
Alan and Barry are separated by the crash, so Alan runs around for a while, this time being hunted by a fresh new enemy: possessed farmers. He’s undefended for a while, so he’s relieved to find the same model of flashlight and revolver that he was carrying before, which allows him to do righteous battle.
A few hours later, Alan and Barry meet up and put on a good old-fashioned music show, using the old stage that the farmers had used to rock out a couple decades ago. This attracts like a thousand possessed farmers, but Alan and Barry use the stage’s ancient lights to blast them. Then Barry waits around while Alan figures some stuff out, like how to use a longboat as a battering ram, and fights another demonic tractor.
Alan and Barry decide to crash in the main farmhouse, where they listen to music and get drunk, even though there are probably a bunch of possessed farmers still milling around.
Getting drunk on moonshine distilled with water from Cauldron Lake gives Alan visions, launching into a huge block of exposition. This takes a pretty long time, and it mostly tells us things we know, though once again Alan Wake gives its players a well-deserved nipple-chafing plot twist. After explaining all about Cauldron Lake being evil again, and how it transforms the work of artists into reality, we learn that Alan was trapped in the lake for some time, writing about the escape of the darkness. Fortunately, Alan had recently played a popular video game series, so he wrote a savior into his story:
And that’s how Alan came to be saved by a Big Daddy, and was free to fight against the darkness.
“The Truth” indeed!