Those of you who have finally worked your way through Alan Wake's ending will have no doubt been confused and perplexed by the ending cinematic.
Remedy said that the ending wouldn't quite tie everything up and they weren't exaggerating.
A lot of the ending will no doubt be explained by the forthcoming DLC - The Signal is confirmed for July 27th, with The Writer another DLC episode promised at a later date. It could also by explained a possible sequel as well. We'll have to wait and see.
But for now, here are the theories floating around on the ending and what it could mean...
Alan Wake Creates Mr. Scratch
The main theory that most fans seem to accept is that in the 1970s, Tom Zane lost his wife/lover Barbara Jagger, with the Dark Presence then telling Zane he could bring her back to life by writing her into existence. For Zane, it was a chance to bring back Barbara. For the Dark Presence, it was a chance to pounce on his story, edit it and further spread its influence.
When writing the story, Zane broke the rules of 'balance' (which Alan mentions towards the end of the game) by trying to write a happily-ever-after ending. The Dark Presence then took over his story, bringing back a heartless Barbara who has been taken over by the Dark Presence.
Zane manages to escape the darkness, so the Dark Presence needs another writer. It manipulates Alan Wake into writing the manuscript by killing Alice in Alan's eyes (the drowning in the lake), even though she is still alive. When Alan realises this, he changes the manuscript so Alice is released while he remains in the cabin - this is the sacrifice required to maintain the balance that Zane never achieved with his story.
Therefore, it's not Alan Wake who we're controlling throughout the game but Mr. Scratch. Alan Wake remains in the cabin writing the story, Mr. Scratch is the one who Alan writes into the story to leave the cabin. Alan is writing about himself to act out the story and Mr. Scratch is the character who plays him.
"It's Not A Lake... It's An Ocean"
This is Alan Wake's last line of the game and arguably the most confusing. Some of tied it back to one of Tom Zane's early bits of dialogue: "For he did not know, that beyond the lake he called home, lies a deeper, darker ocean green." However, despite linking the two by what they say, no-one has come up with a concrete theory as to what Zane's speech/Wake's realisation means.
It could also be Alan Wake realising that the Dark Presence extends far beyond Bright Falls. Another theory is that Alan Wake has come up with the latest 'twist' in his manuscript, that will take the DLC/sequel to the ocean or coast.
Alice Survives, Alan Dies?
Another important thing to notice at the end is that Alice survives. The story is pushed forward by Alan thinking that he's lost Alice in it turns out that she survives, when she clambers onto shore having almost drowned. She's calling out for Alan, so he's apparently nowhere to be seen.
So what has become of Alan? This ties back into what was said earlier, that Alan is the one who sacrifices himself to ensure Alice survives. Slightly barmier theory doing the rounds - Alan Wake is happy to take the place of Tom Zane because he is Tom Zane's son, which explains why Zane knew so much about Wake and also fits Alan explaining that he never knew who his father was. Hmmm...
It Was All Just A Dream?
Highly unlikely, of course, unless Remedy wants to risk the wrath of its newly found fans after taking so long making the game. But who is Alice saying "wake up Alan" to at the end? Or is it just Remedy's way of adding more ambiguity to the ending? Gasp! The drama!
Let us know your comments and thoughts on the ending... we're probably way off-base with some of it or perhaps you agree, but any discussion is good discussion so tell us what you think!