Control Is Packed With Alan Wake References

Control Is Packed With Alan Wake References
Screenshot: Control, Remedy
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Control, the latest game from Remedy Entertainment, has completely taken over my brain. In it, you play as Jesse Faden as she explores the Federal Bureau of Control, a federal agency that studies and contains supernatural objects. Playing a game about secrets and conspiracies will start making you believe in secrets and conspiracies, it turns out. While I love to rehash the Steev Mike theory as much as the next girl, a few Control-related theories about the game’s world have caught my eye. In particular, fans are theorizing that Control takes place in the same universe as Remedy Entertainment’s previous game, Alan Wake. They’ve got me convinced.

Remedy’s Control takes place in New York, far from Alan Wake’s setting of Bright Falls, Washington. The bureaucratic nightmare of The Oldest House, the brutalist building that houses the Federal Bureau of Control, could not feel further from the spooky small-town vibe of Alan Wake’s Washington.

But there are connections, and some of them are quite obvious. While I was playing last night, a character told Jesse Faden that they’d dreamed of multiple universes. “In one world, there’s a writer who wrote a story about a cop,” this character said. “In another world, the cop was real.” This seemed like a reference to both Alan Wake and Max Payne. In Alan Wake, the titular character wrote a series of noir novels about a cop. Max Payne is a noir video game about a cop.

Some of the references are harder to find but appear to place the events of Alan Wake more concretely in the world of Control. Throughout Control, you can find documents about Altered World Events, which are events where supernatural objects wreak havoc on normal people. One such document is about Bright Falls and the havoc that Alan Wake wreaked there.

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According to the in-game document, the Federal Bureau of Control went to Bright Falls two days after the events of Alan Wake to investigate but didn’t find much. They also never recovered Wake’s body. Another document catalogues the thermos collectible, an item from Alan Wake that players collect for an achievement, as an Altered Item that’s being studied by the Federal Bureau of Control.

If you’re still not convinced, maybe this will help: Alan Wake himself also shows up in Control. If you go exploring on the fifth floor of the Panopticon in the Containment sector after you’ve gotten the levitation ability, you’ll find a hidden area with both Wake and the thermos. This video shows you how to find both things:

While I can’t say for sure that these references are an indication of a larger shared universe or just something fun for fans to find, I like the idea of Alan Wake and Control taking place in the same world. At the very least, I like the idea that there’s an organisation making an effort to get Wake back to our dimension. He deserves a win.

The reason I’m personally inclined to believe this theory, though, has to do with a band that features in both Control and Alan Wake.

In the Research sector of Control, you can find a listening room that plays a song by the band Old Guards of Asgard. The Old Guards of Asgard are also in Alan Wake and its follow up, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare.

If you listen to the song that plays over the credits of American Nightmare and play it backwards, you can hear someone say, “It will happen again, in another town. A town called Ordinary.” Where is Jesse Faden from? A town called Ordinary. Checkmate, motherfuckers.


  • I want to play this incredibly bad, but I’ve heard talk that it becomes almost unplayable on base PS4s in the second half due to frame rates that drop to around 10. Anyone playing this on a non-pro PS4?

    • I played it on a non-pro PS4.

      The environments are almost fully destructable so, yea, there are times when the frame rate drops to something insanely low and you almost feel like you’re doing battle in the middle of a slideshow. You can hear the console going, “I’m trying, please stop, I’m trying real hard.” as bits of the room are just flying all over the place a frame at a time.

      So, I beat the game and traded it back in; there is a side quest boss fight that was almost (note: almost, mostly I’m just sulking because he kept killing me again and again and I wanted to snap the disc) unplayable because of the framerate.

      I plan on picking the game back up when the price has gone down and, hopefully, most of the graphic issues will have been patched out so I can 100% it for the plat.

    • Yeah!

      I finished it on my Destiny-launch PS4 yesterday, so that’s a base model around five years old to the day.

      Can confirm, is finishable, but yeah – in no way a smooth or even pleasant experience. Like, wildly bad in terms of frame-rate chugging into the single digits with extreme frequency, not just when multiple enemies or difficult rendering seems required, but even just coming out of a menu screen.

      It was genuinely surreal to play a console game that performed this badly – it reminded me of setting all graphic options to high on a low-end PC and watching it utterly fail to keep up.

      There are moments when it works fine for sure, but as a whole experience, it’s extremely uneven performance-wise.

      I don’t know if the age of my PS4 is a factor, but I returned my copy of Control to EB as it really is something I know I’d never bother to go back to in that state – hopefully they can patch in some expanded graphical options to maybe make it a bit less taxing, as at it’s core it’s definitely a good game.

    • Played it on a launch model (with an SSD, for what it’s worth, so load times aren’t as bad as I’ve heard from others). Platinumed it, in fact. I’d wait a few weeks for a performance patch.

      Digital Foundry’s measurements (minor spoiler warning) look to be about what I experienced – generally hovering in the 20-25 range, but drops into the 10-15 range were unfortunately common during more intense combat. Once the framerate gets below about 20, the motion blur gets extremely noticeable, too, and can make it hard to properly see what’s going on.

      Beyond that, also had some texture/asset loading issues – the map under the markers often just didn’t appear – and there was a puzzle that I had to look up online after being stuck for 20 minutes with what seemed like the obvious solution, because a whiteboard with part of the solution didn’t load at full resolution, and a thin arrow that was crucial to solving the puzzle was blurred out to the point of being completely invisible.

      Also, there were several cutscenes that I realised, upon watching a lets play this week, weren’t meant to be a tense, thematic slideshow, but instead were an overlay of FMV and in-game rendering.

      It’s not completely unplayable if you’re determined, but it’s definitely borderline. Remedy are supposedly working on a performance patch for consoles, which is expected for mid-to-late September, so I’d wait and see how much that helps before jumping in.

  • Can’t help but notice a lack of call out to the actual band that plays the fictitious “old gods of asgard”. In the Alan Wake games they are played by the real band Poets of The Fall. Serious good and underrated band that everyone should check out.

  • It’s not really much of a theory, it’s all pretty blatant. There’s more than one document and an audio recording of Jesse’s therapy session regarding her favourite Thomas Zane poem.

    • I particularly enjoyed the articles on the Thermos, which they say is clearly an altered item, but doesn’t display any supernatural abilities beyond keeping liquids hot for surprisingly long periods of time, and always dispensing amazing coffee, regardless of the quality of what it was filled with.

      I really hope all these references are a sign that Alan Wake 3 is in the works… particularly since Remedy reacquired the publishing rights to Alan Wake from Microsoft in June/July this year.

      • I would be so keen for a new Alan Wake, it was a little clunky on 360 but the PC version at a high frame rate and the “Direct” aiming scheme made it play like a dream.

  • From what I found it seems that Alan Wake isn’t just referenced in the game but you actually walk past him a bunch of times. I seem to remember finding a report that saidthe FBC believe Wake is in the motel, behind the door with the spiral on it.

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