Alan Wake

Remedy Entertainment’s Control contains a multitude of references to their previous titles. Most notably, several collectible documents can be found that recount the events of Remedy’s 2012 title Alan Wake and integrate the story of that game into the canon of Control. Now, the trailer for the next expansion for the game, entitled AWE, has been released, and fans of Wake are finally rejoicing at the news — the gruff writer will play a central role in this new DLC.

In light of this news, I decided to finally install and play Alan Wake, as I had put it off for far too long. I was a big fan of Control and was eager to see what else Remedy had to offer. In the wake of the AWE reveal, Remedy has said that Alan Wake and Control are part of their own “Remedy Connected Universe.” The new expansion is the first crossover event in this continuity. But, that is not to say that this is a novel idea to Remedy, nor to lead writer Sam Lake. Lake planted the seeds for the story of Control very early — in the 2012 spin-off Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, reversing the lyrics in one section of one of the game’s songs reveals hidden speech that says “It will happen again, in another town. A town….called Ordinary.” Ordinary, of course, is the hometown of Control protagonist Jesse Faden, and the site of an infamous Altered World Event. However, during my playthrough of the 2010 Alan Wake, I discovered that there is even earlier evidence linking the two games — in a game released nine years before its “continuity partner” would be released.

A fair amount of context is needed to understand this easter egg. In Control, the Oldest House, the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Control and the setting of the game, is located in Manhattan. It is an otherworldly building, with interior geometry that shifts and changes constantly. However, most people can’t even enter it — only select individuals are capable of even perceiving the existence of the Oldest House despite its imposing, hard-to-miss brutalist architecture. The Oldest House is directly inspired by the real-life 33 Thomas Street (or the AT&T Long Lines Building), an equally mysterious edifice that sticks out like a sore, concrete thumb. According to hard-to-find documentation in Control uncovered by reddit user TheSunny0ne, 33 Thomas Street is in fact the address of the Oldest House within the canon of the game.

In Alan Wake, there are several flashback sequences, two of which take place in Alan’s New York City apartment. One is set on a clear day, while the other is set during a snowstorm. During the clear day flashback, if you look out over Wake’s balcony, you’ll notice a city skyline in the distance.

However, if, for whatever reason, like me, you decide to squint into the snowstorm during the other flashback, you’ll notice that the balcony now seems to face a hard-to-see building on the other side of the street.

The shapes do not match the layout of the windows in Wake’s apartment, so they are not reflections.
And on closer inspection, the shapes are static and do not change position relative to Wake’s location. They are not a trick of the light.

Zoom in, and you can see beige-ish, vertical columns and lines. That looks an awful bit like 33 Thomas Street alright.

Adjust the contrast and you can make out a bit more structural detail.

So, Alan Wake lives across from a brutalist skyscraper strikingly similar in appearance to 33 Thomas Street that disappears from time to time. In other words: Alan Wake lives across from the Oldest House from Control, and can sometimes perceive it. Oh my.

Now, remember, both Alan Wake and Control were developed by Remedy Entertainment, and Sam Lake was the lead writer on both. What little we can see of the Alan Wake exterior of the building doesn’t match up exactly with the appearance of the Oldest House in Control, being more similar to its real-life counterpart. But that can simply be chalked up to Sam Lake not having a finalized design for the Oldest House in mind during Alan Wake’s production. Speaking of which, since it bears emphasizing, I will do so now: Assuming I am not suffering from a severe case of apophenia (seriously, I’m not crazy right? You see the building too?), then Sam Lake inserted an Easter egg into a game that was released in 2010 (a game which had a notably long development time as well) foreshadowing the setting of a game that wouldn’t be released until 2019. What an incredible, intricately planned little secret.

UPDATE 8/23: Unfortunately, upon further review, and through the use of a free flying camera in-game, I can confirm what others are saying — there isn’t actually a building there. Instead, the pseudo-Oldest House seems to actually be a reflection map that can only be seen through the windows of the balcony. Though its certainly possible that this was placed in the game to give the appearance of the Oldest House without the developers actually taking the time to model one, I admit that this is probably wishful thinking on my part. Sadly, its looking like this isn’t an intentional secret.