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Alan Wake - The Signal DLC Analysis
There were plenty of questions raised and left open to either interpretation or for stylistic purposes at the end of Alan Wake. The Signal DLC continues on from the ambiguous ending and provides players with a continuance & accompaniment to the main game’s narrative. While the main game focused on a Stephen King derived horror story, the DLC portends to something slightly more surreal than generic horror writer offerings, with Alan Wake still trapped some alternate facsimile of Bright Falls. This article provides both an overview and analysis of the Alan Wake Signal downloadable content, which can be purchased over the Xbox LIVE service for 560 Microsoft points as of this writing.
For those trying to reimburse their atavism for Alan Wake back into the conscious mind, here is a brief recap on the events of the main game, to whet your appetite for The Signal's additional narrative. Firstly, Alan and his wife Alice take a vacation to the sleep town of Bright Falls, as the author struggles with writer's block. After losing his wife to the dark presence, Alan battles it over the span of multiple days in the town and surrounding forestry. After finally taming the presence and saving Alice with a boyhood momento ("the clicker") Alan is trapped inside the lake cabin with a typewriter and new motive, saving himself from the dark presence and his own mind.
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Alan Wake - Signal Follower
As with the main game, the primary & playable protagonist of the DLC is Alan Wake. The Signal spans a couple of hardy hours, with gameplay going from intense battling to surrealist narrative. Players find themselves re-tracing their steps from the beginning of Alan’s trip to Bright Falls. A dream-like reinterpretation of his visit to the diner is played out in-front of Alan, with things not realistic enough to make true sense. Thomas Zane appears before Alan in the back of the diner and tells him to remain focused while showing him a video of a deranged Alan reciting the current events, as if predicting them.
Upon regaining a modicum of his focus, Alan exits the back of the diner while realising he must be inside the dark presence and that his newly written ending to the novel Departure went awry somehow. Finding a manuscript page, Alan singles out the only word on the page he can make out -- “phone" -- while the others remain a blurred, dream-like mess. After shining a light on the word, a phone appears and Zane contacts Alan thereafter, warning against his dream state regression and ordering him to follow the signal. There are many encounters with enemies & television inserts on the streets of warped Bright Falls, as Alan continues following the signal.
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Another Ambiguous Ending for Alan Wake
Alan finds another manuscript page after a tough standoff against numerous Taken inside the Church’s basement. Like before, only one word is shown vividly enough for Alan to understand, this time it is “friend". Instead of a phone appearing, a ghost-like apparition of Barry Wheeler appears in-front of Alan, lending aid to him during this surreal lucid dream. Traversing the forest once again, the pair make their way to the sawmill (as pointed out by Barry) where the signal is supposedly originating from. Inside the sawmill, Alan reaches a twisted version of his own apartment with Zane inside it, telling Alan he is trapped inside his own mind, playing out this dream.
Refusing to believe this revelation, Alan pushes Zane away and begins to fight a series of television boxes. After the battle, he sees himself babbling on the screen before being knocked unconscious by a now black screened & screaming television. The alluded to red herring of Dr. Hartman and Cauldron Lake Lodge appear as Alan transgresses through conscious states, finally waking in Bird Leg Cabin, with scattered manuscript pages all around him. Trapped in either his dream or the dark presence’s world, he screams “There’s no way out, no way out...I’ve got to get out of here!" before The Signal DLC ends. This leaves yet more room for interpretation and pontification on what is actually happening to Alan Wake.