Control’s Ending Explained: What AWE Means For Alan Wake And Beyond

Control’s Ending Explained: What AWE Means For Alan Wake And Beyond

Control‘s final DLC chapter, AWE, brings Jesse’s epic story to a satisfying conclusion — but along the way, it slowly unfurls the game’s connection to Alan Wake. Remedy’s shared universe has grown considerably since the days of Max Payne but just how connected everything truly is has been a mystery until now. Easter eggs have always existed in Remedy’s games, but AWE ties everything together in a very exciting bow.

With Alan Wake himself appearing in the game to guide Jesse’s journey, it appears he has a pivotal role to play in Control‘s world, one deeper than originally thought. The more you start examining the evidence, the clearer his importance becomes.

And the rabbit hole only gets deeper from there.

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While Wake largely appears as a spectre haunting Jesse in AWE, several vision-like segments depict scenes taking place in the cabin under Cauldron Lake where Wake is trapped. Here, he’s seen arguing with Thomas Zane, who appears to be a mirror image of Alan. Their fates become incredibly entwined, so this appearance makes sense.

For a quick refresher, the events of Alan Wake conclude with the titular writer trapped in a dream-like cabin beneath Cauldron Lake to prevent the Dark Presence from overtaking Bright Falls. (If you haven’t played Alan Wake, the Dark Presence shares a strong resemblance with the Hiss.)

Throughout Alan Wake, the titular writer discovers a mysterious force known as the Dark Presence which aims to spread darkness over Bright Falls and corrupt the light. To accomplish this, the Presence manipulates Wake into entering Cauldron Lake and imbues him with the power to write reality into existence. It’s only through creative individuals the Dark Presence can manifest its reality-altering powers, so Wake becomes its new host. While in the cabin, he begins to write, corrupting Bright Falls in the process.

In the course of his journey, Wake uncovers the true power of the Dark Presence and realises how his words have been used to alter reality. Eventually, he returns to Cauldron Lake to confront the Dark Presence. It’s only then he’s finally aware of its influence, as well as his ability to change the nature of reality. This is seen in the later DLC chapters of Alan Wake, titled The Signal and The Writer.

These chapters reveal a major quirk: Alan Wake isn’t the first writer to have been abducted and manipulated by the Dark Presence.

In these chapters Wake meets Thomas Zane, a poet who lived in Bright Falls before him. Zane guides Wake through the murky nightmare of the Cauldron Lake cabin and helps him battle against his own corrupt ‘dark self.’

The most important lore we learn in The Signal and The Writer is not only was Thomas Zane trapped in Cauldron Lake before Wake, he also found a way out. This ‘way out’ involved  manipulating the power of the Dark Presence to write someone new to take his place — a younger writer named Alan, who would come to Bright Falls and defeat the Dark Presence.

By writing this story, Zane wrote Alan into existence. He also imbued him with the power to defeat the darkness by instilling childhood memories of an object called ‘The Clicker’ which could defeat the darkness.

While the events and story of Alan Wake initially appeared to have very little bearing on the world of Control outside of a few key easter eggs, a single line spoken by Alan in AWE completely obliterates this belief and ties Control directly into Zane and Wake’s story.

At 6:00 into the above clip, Alan says the following in a frantic vision percieved by Jesse:

“Wake needed a hero. A hero needed a crisis. For the part in the story about the government agency, Wake needed something special. Something to convey an alien force mimicking human intelligence.”

It’s a mind-blowing line, particularly when you consider Alan’s ability to alter reality through his writing. The hero he refers to is Jesse. The ‘government agency’ is the Federal Bureau of Control (FBC). The ‘alien force mimicking human intelligence’ could pass easily as either the Hiss or the Dark Presence, both of which share similar darkness-based powers.

By referring to the events of Control as a story, it’s strongly suggested Alan himself has written it into existence. It implies Alan created the Hiss, the Bureau and Jesse, rewriting reality to suit his needs — to prepare Jesse to become Alan’s hero. With his reality-altering powers, he’d be more than capable of creating the altered world events investigated by the FBC.

Jesse’s entire life has prepared her for altered reality events, with a childhood incident lending her the strength and intelligence she needed to overcome the oncoming Hiss presence. Arguably, she’s the perfect candidate to head the FBC but it’s strange how her life appears to have been heading in this direction all along. When you consider Alan’s relationship with Thomas Zane and the way he was brought to Bright Falls, it’s clear there’s some connection between Alan’s writing and Jesse’s story.

All the events of Control lead to the Bureau finally identifying an altered world event around Bright Falls with a cliffhanger ending promising a return to the iconic location. After dealing with the Hiss for good and finally starting to understand the nature of AWEs, Jesse is ready to take on a much larger force like the Dark Presence. She’s ready to save Alan from the lake, which may have been her purpose all along.

And the connections between the two games don’t end there. Control has always shared a connection with Alan Wake beyond its first, subtle cameo.

alan wake control awe dlc story
Image: Remedy

In Alan Wake, the music of the Old Gods of Asgard (Tor Anderson and Odin Anderson) is used in the battle against the Dark Presence. In Control’s Ashtray Maze segment, music from the same band is used to overcome the trippy, reality-altering nature of the plane.

The Hiss and the Dark Presence both share similar, menacing abilities and operate by corrupting innocent people. Like the Dark Presence, the Hiss also has the power to manipulate percieved reality.

The hotel Jesse crosses realities to enter can also be seen as an extension of the cabin beneath Cauldron Lake, with Alan making reality-adjacent cameos in this space during Jesse’s visits. They both share similar, otherworldly atmospheres.

Another clue (and one slightly more tenuous) is the appearance of Dr. Casper Darling.

He’s played and voiced by Matthew Porretta, the same actor who voices Alan Wake. It could certainly be a matter of choice and casting, but the decision feels deliberate. Darling often acts as a narrator in Control, guiding Jesse through the intricacies and science of the Hiss corruption and providing helpful hints for her continued growth. If Alan really is writing the events of Control into reality, Darling serves as his avatar, providing a voice of reason and intelligence to encourage Jesse forward.

With Alan in the writing chair, these similarities make sense — Alan is drawing from his own experiences and crafting a world based on his own, similar enough to give Jesse the boost she needs to survive, grow and eventually save him.

While the theory Alan created the events of Control and subtly manipulated Jesse into becoming the hero who could rescue him is currently unconfirmed, there’s plenty of evidence to support it. Whether it turns out to be the real truth behind Control or just a subtle Easter egg is a question a Control or Alan Wake sequel would surely answer.

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