Alan Wake Files

The Alan Wake Files is a limited edition booklet that came with the collector’s edition of Alan Wake.  The Collector’s Edition also comes with a bonus disc and the soundtrack, but the focus of this page is going to be this booklet.

There are going to be a few major spoilers here, a bit of speculation on our behalf as well.  Your best bet is to play the game to completion, and then check back here for the low-down on The Alan Wake Files.

The booklet is a bit of an account of a librarian’s visit to Bright Falls a few weeks after the events of Alan Wake.  The librarian’s name (actually, he’s a Library Assistant) is Clay Steward.  He resides in Madison, Wisconsin and has travelled to Bright Falls after having had a series of dreams involving Alan Wake.  Much like in a ‘real’ novel, Steward’s bio is on one of the sleeves of the jacket, and there’s a large foreward at the beginning of the book.

The Alan Wake Files starts out by examining FBI Agent Robert Nightingale’s personal effects, notably his personal notes and interviews.

This section is a work in progress–check back again for more information on The Alan Wake Files.

Where indicated, The following text is taken directly from the book and is copyright of Remedy Entertainment and Microsoft.

Nightingale’s Field Notes

Day One (Night)

Exhausted.  Missed the turn off.  Took 2 hours longer than planned.  Trees are pretty, but hell, they all look alike.  This place really is in the middle of nowhere.  And not the exact middle.  That would be too easy.

Sun’s already down.  Motel stinks and not even in a good Chicago way.  Majestic my ass.

Got to check in with the local Johnny Law in the morning.

Haven’t really grilled the local yokels yet.  Don’t think the moron at the front desk counts.  Wish I had the Bureau’s backing.  Some official resources would help.  But then there’d be a lot of explaining to do.  And I’ve got no better way to burn my free time.

Still have a few favours I can call in if I need some heavy lifting.  Better this way.

Day Two

Johnny Law turns out to be Janie Law.  Sheriff Breaker comes from a cop family, knows diddlysquat.  Usual hostility to feds.  Don’t know whether to uyse honey or salt on this one.  Don’t know if I have enough honey in me.

She did make the phone call I needed.  Let’s consider her pliable.

Diner’s a great place to get all friendly with the townies.  They had a cardboard cutout of Wake propped up near the door.  One of the waitresses is supposed to be a big fan.

Day Two (Afternoon)

How to get to our boy before he hurts anyone.  That’s the million-dollar question.

Do these people know what they’re dealing with here?  Good God, it’s like watching toddlers play with nitro!

Interviewed locals at the trailer park.  Suspect there’s something behind all these dopey country facades.  Everybody knows more than they’re telling.  Or maybe they just don’t, which is even scarier.  Wake did a number on that waitress.  Sweet kid, but can’t tell night from day.

Day Three

Noises last night.  Some damned animals.  Went out again, got lost again.  Goddamn trees.

Can’t believe how slippery some guys are.  Talked to the front desk moron this morning.  Didn’t seem to know zip about Wake.  Got real quiet when I mentioned him.  In fact, could be he just ran out of thoughts.

I’m getting nothing out of these people.

Day Three (Night)

Scanner picked up confused distress call response.  Domestic violence, or burglary or vandalism or kidnapping.  Deputy Dawg can’t decide.  Little Janie Law’s got her hands full.

Things here are just strange enough that I’m sure I’m on the right track.

Found Wake’s agent.  Followed him a bit.  Tubby tried to lose me.  Maybe Wake’s so slippery because his buddy’s so slimy?

Day Three, Practically Four

Can’t go on like this.  Daylight is harsh when there’s no sleep.

Saw Lady Diogenes with her lamp in broad daylight.  I forget her real name, got it written somewhere.  How to get to Wake.  Is someone hiding him?  Extremeism in the cause of sanity is no vice.  Whatever it takes.

Local head-shrinker’s name keeps coming up: Hartman.

Day Four

Didn’t sleep a wink.  Scanner just got weirder through the night.

Wake is one elusive bugger.  Is he the only one?  Is it him holding up the whole house of cards?  What’ll happen when I pull?

Wish I could be sure, but not to decide is to decide.  Have to do what’s necessary when the time comes.

Feels like I’m alone in the wilderness here.

Day Four (Afternoon)

A partner isn’t like a co-worker, or a friend, or even a brother.  He’s your guardian, your keeper, your other wife.  He keeps you on the dead straight, calls you on everything the others let slide, and has your back when the shooting starts.  That’s where I failed Finn.  I owe it to him to keep going, even when everything’s gone dark.  When the craziness back east started, he couldn’t explain it either.  That’s when he needed me most, but I blew it.

I have to make it right.

Day Four (Night)

Hartman seems to be the big man on campus.  Very protective of his patients.

Skimmed through his self-help book–what a load.  He’s got a sweet little racket going at “The Lodge.”  Gut tells me he’s involved in all this somehow.

Going for a drive, can’t think in here.  Am I going down like Finn?

Not if I shoot first.

Day Four, (Night–Much Later)

Sounds are getting weirder all the time.  Soemthing happening just outside of town, out by some farm.  Flashes of light, too. Could be kids with firecrackers, getting edgy and starting a barn fire.

Probably ought to get some batteries for this stupid flashlight if there’s time.

Will I have it in me to do what’s necessary when the time comes?

While Steward does feel the need to add in his own commentary (I write as if Steward is an actual person here…), it’s pretty much superfluous.  What Nightingale is saying is really…self-explanitory.  What Steward isn’t clear upon (he’ll write something along the lines of ‘this is conjecture’) or even hazards a guess at is what Nightingale refers to in his last notes.

What was he planning on doing?  If you look at the game, it’s clear that he was planning on shooting Wake, on more than one occasion.  But why?  Of course, all we can do is theorize and speculate.  But what if he wasn’t planning on shooting Wake, but himself?  He wonders if he’s going down like Finn back east.

These are definitely Nightingale’s personal notes, unrelated to his official notes or even notes that he would keep in a booklet belonging to the Bureau.  Similarly with police and security-officer notebooks, personal notes are not permitted in these booklets.  The booklets do not belong to the officer, they belong to the police service and can be requested back at any time, and when you’re finished with the notebook, it’s handed back to the service.  So…I guess you could say this is Nightingale’s version of a diary.

While Steward does feel the need to add in his own commentary (I write as if Steward is an actual person here…), it’s pretty much superfluous.  What Nightingale is saying is really…self-explanitory.  What Steward isn’t clear upon (he’ll write something along the lines of ‘this is conjecture’) or even hazards a guess at is what Nightingale refers to in his last notes.

What was he planning on doing?  If you look at the game, it’s clear that he was planning on shooting Wake, on more than one occasion.  But why?  Of course, all we can do is theorize and speculate.  He wonders if he’s going down like Finn back east.  Well what happened to Finn?

It’s later learned through Steward’s rather informal contact with the FBI that Nightingale’s partner Finn died in the line of duty.  The details surrounding said incident are hush-hush, but what are the odds that it’s remarkably similar to what’s going on in Bright Falls?  Probably 100%, because Nightingale said so in his personal notes.  So…that probably would have explained a lot, had it been in the game.

Indeed, Nightingale’s notes (we learn his first name is Robert in the Alan Wake Files) depict him much like the game does.  The game does a great job of making you want to hate Nightingale–he’s an alcoholic, badge-heavy asshole who hates Bright Falls and towns like them.  Plus, he wants to kill the progtaonist.  His notes are full of incorrect speech (err, writing) mannerisms that not only make him seem like a prick, but ignorant as well.  Poor guy just can’t get a break it seems.

The interviews with the local yokels seem to paint a similar picture of Nightingale, save for a very few.  Okay, none.  They basically tell you what you already know from playing the game.  They lay out a lot of the events for the game, such as Rose drugging Wake and Wheeler while under the influence of The Dark Presence and Nightingale firing at Wake in the radio station.

What’s also explained through this informal little contact (that also violates about a million different codes of ethics by one Pablo Rovira Diez) is that Robert Nightingale wasn’t even on FBI time when he came to Bright Falls.  So…they let him just keep the fancy windbreaker and the badge–you know, for old time’s sake.  But while we’re on it, the manuscript pages do say that he has a certain way about flashing his badge and pulling rank, so…perhaps it was a Colgate Cavity Club badge all along?

What is never answered is what happened to him after the events of the game.  The closing cut-scene was rather strange, and there was a blurb in the game about the darkness taking over anything that the writer failed to write about.  Or perhaps it was Wake’s intention all along to torment the guy for the rest of eternity?  Everything at a price, Alan.

What Else is in the Book?

There’s some excellent material added into the book as well, some of Alan Wake’s old writings that are far too numerous and bloated to post here.  They don’t serve any purpose to the main story, either.  Just fan-service for a dude that doesn’t even exist.

Some other interesting articles crop up in Steward’s research, about the town of Bright Falls, old newspaper clippings.

There’s even a section of manuscript found that doesn’t quite tie into the story as well.  It’s a lot better written and longer than the manuscripts you find in the game.  They’re an interesting read in themselves, but they don’t shed very much light into the main story.

If you wanted to learn more about Dr. Hartman’s methods, there’s an entire ‘chapter’ devoted to his book, The Creator’s Dilemma.  In it, it discusses the Engagement Therapy and The Flow.  One must wonder if there’s actual psychology based behind this, because it sure as hell reads like it.  It’s complete with guise that it was written with the help of the ego of a man with an alphabet soup after his name.  It might strike you as odd, seeing as most of the patients at Cauldron Lake Lodge really look like they belong in a ‘regular’ mental institution, regardless if they’re creative or not.

There’s also a section on Bright Falls History, apparently taken from a larger book, edited by Conrad Breaker.  Since there are a million different last names that could have been used for this character, one also wonders whether this is one of Sheriff Breaker’s relatives–yup, good old Dad gets all the goods from daughter-dearest.  But wasn’t he a police officer in some big city?  Perhaps he also got a kick out of the paranormal in Bright Falls as well?  It was compiled in a dossier created by Nightingale, who sliced it out of a book at the library.  It explains of the weird goings-on in Bright Falls and makes Nightingale look more and more like a certifiable nut.

Other articles include a tabloid article regarding Wake and the paparazi, a police report from the night Thomas Zane and Barbara Jagger disappeared and the response to Steward from the FBI regarding Nightingale (apparently a Freedom of Information Act request can get you pretty far, even with priviledged FBI personnel files).

Who is Clay Steward?

So who exactly is Steward?  Well, folks who are quick might recognize him as the person in the “Nightmare” portion of the game.  It almost sounds as if the two of them are friends from way back, but there’s no indication anywhere in the book that the two of them had met each other before.  Steward doesn’t mention a dream similar to what Alan experienced, either.

Perhaps the two of then connected in a dream is what called Steward to Bright Falls? Perhaps the folks at Remedy ran out of names and thought they’d slip a fast one by us?

Apparently Steward conducted his investigation at a great personal cost.  He left his wife and newborn son Milo (plug, anyone?), both of whom are extremely estranged to him.  Great personal cost meaning “I wanted to leave them, so I did.”

Perhaps we’re to look more here to make comparisons between Wake and Steward?  Or perhaps this is all just mindless fluff?  There is a rather interesting note at the end of the book, in Clay’s Afterword….

“At the time of printing, I am still unaware of whether Alan Wake is dead, missing, or in hiding.  There was one night when I was walking back to the Majestic on the Elderwood trail and I thought I saw a man that looked like Lake rounding a bend in the trail.  I called out and started jogging, then running after him, and while he seemed to walk at a steady pace, I never was able to catch up.  There was even a brief moment in which he looke dback and I saw that it was him.  He smiled at me as though he were letting me in on a big secret.  Just before rounding the bend.  When I caught up, he had vanished.”

And even more interesting…..

“My dreams have stopped and I consider my part in this matter to be complete.  Before leaving Bright Falls, I threw my dream journal into the lake and hopefully returned my visions to their source…..”

“When I finally left Bright Falls and returned to Madison, I looked for Anna and Milo.  The apartment was empty and Anna’s family refused to answer my alls.  They were gone and I was abandoned, alone.  I searched for almost a year before finally making contact.  I now work as an assistant in the basement of the university library, shelving books mostly but occasionally fixing network problems and waking sleeping students at closing time.  On those brief occasions when one of these students catches my eye and they look away too quickly or they are over-polite, I get the sense that they’re afraid to catch what I have.  Perhaps they look down at me with my anxious manner and ill-fitting clothes, convinced that I am one of life’s forgotten and poor beyond pity.  I let them look down, smug with the pride of my secret.

See, they don’t understand what I have.  They don’t know that when I finish work, my back sore and my feet as heavy as cinderblocks, that I catch a bus to the other side of town where I climb six floors to a small but well-kept apartment.  They have no idea that when I open that door and see my beautiful wife and boy look up at me and smile, that I am awash in the light and warmth of a thousand suns.

They don’t understand that I have treasures beyond their imagining.  That I am untouchable, alive, and that I walk in light.”

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