Alan Wake 2 is officially on the way. Remedy’s sequel once felt impossible, but the Finnish developer has been building toward this moment for the past several years, which included acquiring the intellectual property rights from Microsoft, revealing its Remedy Connected Universe, and remastering the original 2010 cult classic Alan Wake. The debut trailer mixes some computer-generated environments with a live-action Alan who looks a bit like John Wick on day 10 of insomnia.
While there’s no gameplay to look at yet, the mood piece does contain many clues as to the story and setting for Alan Wake 2. We’ve tried to unravel all of those clues here. If you think we missed any, let us know. We’re eager to learn more about the 2023 game, which Remedy says is going all in on survival-horror. Here are 20 things you may have missed in the Alan Wake 2 trailer, as broken down into its four main scenes.
In the first scene of the dioramic reveal trailer, we see Alan standing in the woods surrounded by some details well worth noting.
1. The dead body
Without a doubt, you caught the human corpse lying on the picnic table like Hannibal Lecter was there enjoying a day at the park. The interesting thing to note is that the body does not appear to be that of a Taken, especially considering that defeated Taken wither away into the air when killed. It seems as though someone (Alan?) has killed the man or come upon this grisly scene. And law enforcement is clearly on the scene too, as they’ve marked at least 38 pieces of evidence, including the strangely naked body.
2. Deer head (or mask?)
Beneath the picnic table on the right sits a deer’s head, though it appears so clean that it may actually be a mask of some sort. Is it a Deer Fest souvenir belonging to the apparent victim lying dead atop the table? If it’s a mask, it may imply that Deer Fest will once more be ongoing during Wake’s long-awaited return, something a later part of the trailer suggests even more.
3. Overlapping triangles
In what will become a recurring symbol in the brief trailer, we see our first glimpse of overlapping triangles carved into the tree on the left. In this example, the triangles are arranged with one overlapping the other in a north and south manner. While we haven’t seen this symbol in Alan Wake before, we do see it in the Wake-heavy “AWE” DLC for Control, but only if you catch it amid a fast-moving montage of purposely blurry images.
The symbol seems to relate to the Cult of the Tree, which is a mysterious group only mentioned by name in a few obscure places like this so far. We don’t know what their motives are, who is in this group, or really anything other than their name. According to one unknown investigator’s corkboard, The Cult of the Tree is related to this symbol, and it seems only to be found in Watery, Washington, the rival town across the lake from Bright Falls. Thanks to Sir Galehaut–the most knowledgeable Remedy lore fan I know–for the image and additional background info.
4. A cabin… but maybe not the cabin
On the right in the background, we see a cabin. One’s first instinct may be to assume this is Bird Leg Cabin reborn as it was in Alan’s first nightmarish adventure. But not only is the placement of this cabin not consistent with Bird Leg Cabin, which sat on a small island in the middle of Cauldron Lake until it sank away in the 1970s, but the roof is slightly different from the Bird Leg Cabin we’ve seen before. It contains one additional peak in its ceiling between the two windows that, admittedly, do seem very similar in both the original game and the new trailer. Still, it’s more likely this is just a cabin in the woods, not Alan’s former writer’s den–but also a bit strange that the two structures are so similar.
5. Cauldron Lake sign
We’re unable to make out the bottom line of the sign, but look between the thick tree and the cabin and you’ll find a sign for Cauldron Lake. Does this point to the infamous body of water being nearby? Probably, but we can’t know more until we’re able to decipher the rest of the writing on the large but sadly shadowy sign.
6. Coffee thermos
Less important to the lore (probably), but still a fun reference is the iconic blue Oh, Deer Diner coffee thermos. Who could forget having to track down all of these tucked-away do-nothing thermoses simply because they loved the game so much and wanted all of the achievements?
When we transition to the cityscape, even more clues can be pulled out of the scene. Here’s all we’ve found so far
7. Oceanview Motel
Right away, the vibrant red lights of the Oceanview Motel signage can be seen in the back left. We know from Control that the Oceanview is a “Threshold,” and acts as some sort of transit junction, like a train station between realities and physical spaces in our world. In Control’s AWE DLC, it was in the Oceanview that protagonist Jesse Faden was able to get a glimpse of Alan. It’s possible Alan has learned how to travel in this way, or maybe he’s merely stumbled upon it accidentally.
8. Caldera St. subway station
We’ve not seen mention of a Caldera St. in the RCU before, best we can tell. However, we know that Cauldron Lake itself is a caldera, or a lake formed by a volcanic eruption. This again points to Alan’s world taking on an increasingly fantastical, malleable shape
9. More triangles
We can see more triangles on the left of the scene, drawn on a bus stop. Curiously, this time the triangles are side by side, not one on top of the other, which seems to be the more commonly seen version of the symbol. Does this make it something other than the Cult’s icon? Perhaps it points to two parallel worlds colliding, or it has something to do with Control’s pyramid-manifesting and mysterious Board.
Across from the Oceanview, we can see another neon-lit sign that seems to read “Initiation.” We know from Quantum Break that someone was studying Alan Wake’s disappearance, and for some reason related it to the Campbellian Monomyth–the Hero’s Journey, as it’s more commonly known. Split into three basic parts, the Monomyth tells a story of “Departure, Initiation, Return.”
Alan’s manuscript in the original game was to be called Departure, and more recently, we’ve heard the sequel story referenced as “Return,” such as in a live-action teaser found in Quantum Break. But with “Initiation” now cropping up, does that mean Wake’s story is a planned trilogy, or perhaps, is this trailer the middle part that will lead us to his true Return in Alan Wake 2?
11. Tom The Poet
On the phone booth on the left side, we can clearly make out a Tom The Poet poster, perhaps even the same one we see in the early minutes of the original game. This is a nod to Thomas Zane, a character who may have experienced something much like Alan’s own horrific journey decades before him–if he existed at all, that is.
12. “Night Gala”
Next to the Tom poster, a harder-to-read poster seems to feature a clown and the words “Night Gala” on it. We’re stumped as to what this one could mean, but again, nothing is done by accident in a Remedy world, so it’s probably only a matter of time until we learn what it is. Whether it’s a TV, a live event, or a twisted memory plastered on the wall in the real world, we bet we’ll know soon enough.
13. The clock
On the left, a tall clock seems to read 10:10 on its face. This is either a thoughtless choice–the clock has to say something, right?– or, maybe, the mirrored numbers are a nod to the strange and violent Alan doppelganger, Mr. Scratch. It’s certainly not the last reference to the apparent devil in this trailer.
14. Ahma beer brand
In Alan Wake Remastered, new assets were added to the town of Bright Falls in the form of a few fliers, which seemed to signal they would be important. (Otherwise, why add them?) One of these was an ad for Ahma beer company, a local brew made across the lake from Bright Falls in Watery. Ahma means “wolverine” in Finnish and is likely the drink Ahti is holding in Control when players find his postcard that reveals the janitor is staying in Bright Falls’ rival town.
Downtown Bright Falls
Naturally, Bright Falls also houses a few clues of its own regarding Alan Wake 2. Here are the stones we’ve uncovered thus far.
15. Zane quote on the deli sign
On the right, behind the food truck, sits a deli-style sign that reads “Quote of the day: Your friends will meet him when you’re gone.” This is a direct reference to what Thomas Zane says to Alan regarding Mr. Scratch, the bizarre doppleganger whom we realize later is rather unhinged. Does this quote appearing here mean the locations we’ve seen are not tangible places in the world, but rather Alan’s psyche manifested as a real-world time and place? And does this mean Mr. Scratch is back, after apparently being destroyed at the end of the pseudo-sequel, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare?
16. 81st Deer Fest
A banner draped over the Oh, Deer Diner on the left side of the scene reads “Deer Fest – 81st Annual.” In the original 2010 game, Alan and Alice arrived in Bright Falls just in time for the 68th annual Deer Fest. That means Alan’s world in Alan Wake 2 would appear to have aged in lockstep with the real world. When the game arrives in 2023, it will have been 13 years between chapters.
17. Coffee World
Like the Ahma beer signage that first popped up in the remastered original game, we also started to see signs for Coffee World, an apparent local favorite for Watery residents. Like the beer company, this Coffee World would seem to brew its product using local water reserves. We get the feeling that there’s maybe something special about the water in Watery (and not just because of the town’s name). A Coffee World post-it also appears on that investigation board briefly shown in AWE that mentions the Cult of the Tree, suggesting there’s also something strange about it.
Thus, it feels a bit foreboding that the food truck parked in Bright Falls seems to have come across the bridge from Watery. If there’s something unwelcome in Watery, are some residents there knowingly corrupting Bright Falls by selling it to them as coffees and beers? Something is definitely off about this town, but we aren’t quite sure what it is yet.
In the final scene, we zoom in on Alan’s face. This short, jump-scary moment still holds a few more secrets.
18. Alan’s magical lamp
In Alan’s hand seems to be a lamp without its shade on. That’s hardly remarkable, but what makes it worth noting is that it’s also not plugged in anywhere. It would seem, like he did with The Clicker, Alan is able to imbue this object with power. Perhaps it signals an Alan who is stronger and more capable.
19. Alan’s really magical lamp
Not only does Alan operate a lamp without any apparent power source beyond his own penchant for manifestation, but the base of the lamp also looks like a fairy of some sort. (It also sort of looks like a Game Award–subliminal messaging?) The fairy design could be merely symbolic, but either way, it likely points to the creature of Finnish folklore, the Keiju (not to be confused with Kaiju). According to myth, the Keiju “are tiny and beautiful humanoid creatures with wings like those of a dragonfly or butterfly. They reside in forest ponds or misty meadows, usually in a parallel world.” That’s our emphasis added, for obvious reasons.
Given that the Remedy Connected Universe already pulls a lot from folklore (Baba Yaga, Bird Leg Cabin, Yggdrasil), is Alan’s fairy light another deliberate symbol?
20. Mr. Scratch is the monster
The last image we see is of a totally unhinged Alan, grinding his blood-stained teeth and looking ready to tear someone’s flesh from their bones. It’s likely that this is actually Mr. Scratch, as the trailer already includes nods to the doppelganger and the haunting picture of him is similar to what we hear Alice recount on an audio log in Control’s final expansion, AWE. She describes being visited by a deranged version of Alan very much like the one we see here. And in Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, we saw Mr. Scratch committing a number of murders–and he looks exactly like Alan. So if you’re worried whether Alan has truly gone off the deep end, he hasn’t. Well, maybe. Hopefully.
Did you spot anything we didn’t in the Alan Wake 2 reveal trailer? Let us know, and we’ll solve this mystery together.