In 2010, Remedy Entertainment developed Alan Wake, a psychological action horror game for the Xbox 360 and, eventually, for PC. The game follows successful author Alan Wake who, in the midst of a serious bout of writer’s block, travels with his wife to the quaint and picturesque town of Bright Falls, a delightful hamlet with charming residents and gorgeous scenery. Upon arriving, Wake and his wife, Alice, fall victim to a surreal darkness that steals Alice away and robs Wake of one week, a time during which he seemingly wrote a manuscript that portends future events, most of which are life-threatening to anyone involved.
The game was, in my opinion, a masterpiece of brilliant design and wonderful writing, creating a world that was engrossing and engaging while at the same time making something so fascinating that I couldn’t stop playing it. In fact, I think I’ve went back and revisited the game at least five or six times, relishing every moment with each playthrough.
A marketing ploy that was utilized before the release of Alan Wake was a series of short episodic films under the title Bright Falls, named after the aforementioned town. These six short episodes told the story of journalist Jake Fischer who travels to the town of Bright Falls to interview Dr. Emil Hartman, a psychiatrist who owns the Cauldron Lake Lodge, about his new book.
I bring Bright Falls up because I just rewatched all the episodes and I was struck by how well the shorts captured the feel that players would later feel when playing the game. Directed by Phillip Van, the show is beautifully shot, creating a world that feels mysterious and real. And while Twin Peaks, which was obviously an inspiration, may have been a charming town, seeming like a place that one might actually want to visit, Bright Falls is the opposite. It’s imposing, eerie, and unsettling.
The characters are just as intriguing as the town. The writers give just enough hints as to relationships to make things interesting but leave the details out, allowing us crave more or, perhaps even better, create our own backstories, as many of these characters are not a part of the game.
Each episode unfolds offering new mysteries while answering previous ones. However, if you think that by watching all six episodes that you’re going to know everything, you’re sorely mistaken. There are clues that are meant to be followed, threads meant to be unravelled, and paths meant to be journeyed.
As I rewatched this series, I was struck by a feeling whereby I wished this were fully realized into an actual TV series or even potentially a movie. The Alan Wake universe would allow for some truly amazing opportunities to tell captivating and compelling storylines, either via Wake or the inhabitants of Bright Falls. Perhaps a TV series could be created that is almost like “Night Springs”, the Twilight Zone-esque show that players could watch on random televisions scattered throughout the game.
Alas, I realize that these are dreams that will always see me wake up saddened by reality, but I choose to cling to these hopes anyways.
No matter what, Remedy is still actively entertaining the concept of a full-fledged sequel to Alan Wake, so one can only hope that a return is seriously in the works. The two DLC titles and one stand-alone game aren’t bad, by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I find them to be exciting additions that embraced the lack of reality to really expand Wake’s purgatory. But they were appetizers and I’ve been craving the main course for a long time now.
No matter what, I still strongly encourage you to set aside approximately 30-45 minutes and watch Bright Falls. All episodes are below.