So Remedy’s latest addition into the world of gaming comes in the form of Quantum Break, a time-bending, world-distorting, third person shooter, but we are not here to talk about Quantum Break, or at least only Quantum Break. We are also here to discuss Remedy’s other games they have released over the years, namely Alan Wake and the first 2 Max Payne games, and whether or not these titles are connected and inhabit the same universe. Now this article will contain spoilers for not only Max Payne and Alan Wake, but also the first hour or two of Quantum Break, so if you want to go in completely blind then I suggest you favourite this article for another time. You still here? Good, so let’s start by discussing Quantum Break and it’s connection to the other games. Now these theories that I am going to discuss are completely of my own opinion, and I’m not stating that these are fact. The evidence to support a shared universe between these games is complicated and is not as simple as a yes or a no answer. There are many interpretations of what this evidence means, with many other people having similar or very different understandings, so if you don’t agree that’s cool, if you do agree that’s cool too, but let me know what you think at the end of this article and we will have a big ol’ discussion afterwards!
So in the first hour or two of Quantum Break our main protagonist, Jack Joyce, and his brother are escaping a university from Monarch Solutions through a university lecture hall. This is a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ type of reference as it does not interfere with the story in any way, and to most will look like a lot of gibberish on a blackboard, and to some extent it is, but if you read what is on the blackboard it is a case study on Alan Wake. The information on the blackboard does confirm that Alan Wake exists within the same universe as Jack Joyce, but to what extent? It can be interpreted in different ways. The information mentions Alan Wake himself, as well as some other characters from the game, the names of the manuscripts that are the main story of both Alan Wake and American Nightmare, as well as some direct quotes and mentions to other parts of the game. This could mean that the events of Alan Wake, as we played in the video game, actually happened and have become public knowledge over time, and as a result has spawned some sort of class or case study on the supernatural shadow monsters that hunted Alan during his story.
What this could also mean that is that the events of Alan Wake did not happen as we know them, and that Alan Wake does exist in this universe but is genuinely a fictional novelist who wrote the “Departure” as a story about himself, a meta story in which he wrote a fictionalised version of himself who suffers from writers block and goes off to sort out his problems, only to encounter The Dark Presence. The same could be said for Alan Wakes American Nightmare, or the “Return”, in that the events of the game never officially happened, and that it is just a novel written by Alan Wake in this universe. Some of the language used on the blackboard does suggest that it is a novel they are discussing rather than real world events, and it also supports the theory that English teachers and tutors dissect works of literature more than the actual author themselves, poor Alan Wake. It would also mean that the Alan Wake games are just video game adaptations of the novels that Alan Wake has written in this universe.
Another piece of evidence that also firmly places Alan Wake in this universe but again can be interpreted in different ways comes a little earlier in the game in the form of a live action trailer for “Alan Wake: Returns”. At the very beginning on the game, Jack can come across a TV within a tent on the university ground, and when activated shows a live action trailer for Alan Wake: Returns. This is completely optional and in no way effects the outcome of Quantum Break, but is something that gets our minds racing. Now admittedly this leans closer to the theory that Alan Wake is a normal guy who writes novels that are very popular, and from these popular novels, TV shows or movies have spawned, within the Remedy universe, but it could also be taken in a very meta, fourth wall breaking way in that the events of Alan Wake are true and did happen, but that this trailer is completely unrelated and is just a small teaser for the fans to speculate and get excited about.
Some further evidence to support that Alan Wake exists in this universe and that he is just a normal writer is during the first live action episode of Quantum Break at the end of Act 1. In another ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ moment, there is a scene in the first episode where another novel can be seen sitting on a table, again written by Alan Wake. This once again confirms that Alan Wake exists, but whether not he is just a fictional novelist who writes good stories, or whether he is a novelist but the events of the games did also happen is yet to be confirmed.
Alan Wake & Max Payne
Now that we have connected Quantum Break and Alan Wake, it’s time to bring Max Payne into the fold. Now we know that Alan Wake exists in this universe, but whether or not he is just a novelist who wrote the “Alan Wake” stories, or that he is a novelist but the events of the “Alan Wake” games actually happened is still up in the air, but where does Max Payne come into this? Well Alan Wake wrote another series of novels within this universe that follow the adventures of a man called Alex Casey, the stories and covers of which are very similar and draw a lot of parallels to Max Payne.
Now this could just be a neat little reference to the Max Payne series, a little homage and fan service to the fans of the series, but people have speculated that it means something more. Again this comes with a massive grain of salt and is all based on opinion, so whether or not it turns out to be true, it’s all a matter of fun, but Max Payne may also exist in this universe. The Alex Casey novels could be based on Max Payne’s life, in the sense that the events of the Max Payne games were in fact real, and Alan Wake turned them into novelisations, changing the names and certain aspects of the story in order to protect Max Payne’s identity. Alternatively, the Max Payne games could be the stories that Alan Wake has written, and that Max Payne does not exist as a person, but as a story within this universe.
Max Payne was originally portrayed by Sam Lake, who also wrote Max Payne, Alan Wake and Quantum Break, so it makes sense that these games will be linked in some way or another. During Alan Wake however, one of the televisions can be used in order to view an interview on a talk show, with the guest being Sam Lake, portraying Max Payne, a what is assumed to be Max Payne. This can also be supported as the interviewers asks Lake to do “the face”, in infamous face he made when he portrayed Max Payne in the first video game, so further supports the idea that Max Payne does exist as a person in this universe, and that perhaps Alan Wake has written fictionalised versions of his life as novels. The fact that he is now called Alex Casey in these novels is also convenient due to Remedy as a developer selling the full rights to Max Payne to Rockstar and 2K, but that is unrelated to the theory of the shared universe. Sam Lake can also be seen in the “Alan Wake: Returned” live action trailer that is found in Quantum Break, who plays a live action Alex Casey, which again supports the theory that Alan Wake is a normal novelist, whose characters have came to life in different forms of media, within the Remedy Universe.
So we can confirm that Quantum Break, Alan Wake, and Max Payne do all share and inhabit the same universe, but to what capacity? That can only be answered by Sam Lake, and the fine people over at Remedy, but what do you think about this potentially shared universe, and what would you like to see come form it? I personally would really like it if all of these characters existed with their powers and stories, because that’s cool and video games and stuff. Let me know in the comments below, follow me on Twitter, and check out all my other social media outlets under the ‘Social Side’ tab.