For more than ten years fans of Alan Wake have been waiting to see the light-wielding hero return. In previous videogames, Remedy has been teasing fans with a possible imminent return of the character. Quite fitting, that not long after the 10th anniversary of Alan Wake, the character finally reappears again in the new downloadable content for Control, called “AWE”.
AWE – Alan Wake Expansion
AWE is short for Altered World Event, a term used by the agents of the Federal Bureau of Control when para natural forces invade our world. The events as occurred in 2010’s Alan Wake were already established as an AWE in the world of Control. However, with the arrival of the second DLC players can expect more insights into the disappearance of Alan Wake, as well as new mysteries to uncover. Our new journey begins with a sudden appearance of Alan Wake, reaching out to Jesse through the Hotline, informing us of the newly added button in the sector elevator that will go to the ‘investigations sector’.
The investigations sector is the place where the FBC conducted extensive research on the Bright Falls AWE. However, upon our arrival, the place is deserted. Why was this sector abandoned? What’s Wake doing on the Hotline? Rapidly, questions start to add up and the plot thickens. As was the case with The Foundation, most of the answers to our questions can be pieced together by finding the collectibles scattered around the area. While these are playful at first, they rapidly provide more insight into the exact events that happened after Wake’s disappearance. One character takes the center stage here: Emile Hartman. In Alan Wake, Emil Hartman was a psychiatrist and the head of Cauldron Lake Lodge. A clinic that was aimed at helping troubled and mentally-ill artists. That lodge was attacked by the Dark Presence in Alan Wake. Hartman survived the attack but became obsessed with studying Cauldron Lake and its powers. By the time the FBC took him in, he was a changed man.
Left in the dark.
That’s about everything I’m can share about the campaign’s plot without going into spoiler territory. The appeal of AWE is, by far, the collection of new information regarding the Bright Falls AWE and our beloved characters. What I will say about the plot, is that the ending of the new campaign is a bit…disappointing. It’s a cliffhanger, sure, but for fans of Alan Wake (like me) that might have stepped in the DLC expecting a continuation of his story, might be left in the dark (pun intended!).
With that said, the DLC is still very worthwhile to play. With the newly added features through the August update (Multi-launch!!) and the expansion’s new weapon form (Surge, a sticky grenade launcher) and enemies, the combat is shaken up just about enough to remain fresh. Exploration has changed too. The Darkness is present in the FBC, blocking Jesse’s path. You’ll need to use your powers to grab light sources to illuminate the way, burn away the darkness, and traverse deeper. Reaching the end will take you about 4 hours tops. The new side-missions might extend that time with an hour or two. Remedy cleverly added two Arcade machines that allow the player to either replay the game’s boss fights and Ashtray Maze or fight off waves of enemies in a horde mode. These additions can easily increase the playtime duration and are a real challenge for even the most skilled players.
A nice gesture.
While on the topic of skill: With the August Update, Remedy added ‘Assist Mode’ to Control. Assist mode allows the player to enable gameplay modifications that might decrease the game’s difficulty. Control was challenging at times and with this gesture, the developers are making sure everyone is capable of uncovering all the secrets the Oldest House had to offer. And yes, even the game’s more difficult trophies can be collected this way!
AWE is a fantastic piece of content. It’s fanservice in its purest form, with newly added lore that expands the Alan Wake universe and various callbacks (Christmas lights!) that will make every Remedy fan smile. Those expecting a continuation of Wake’s story might need to tone down their enthusiasm, but if you loved Control there’s plenty of reason to take a trip to the investigations sector. Make sure to bring a flashlight. You’ll need it!