Published December 23rd, 2013 at 10:00 am EST/EDT

“Departure” fits in well with the original “Cold September Ground” songs: It’s creepy as all get-out, and it has plenty of fantastic elements to it. It’s also about some popular media, like some of the other songs on this disc. But whereas “9 Lives”, the only other gaming song on “Faces in the Fog”, is more about gaming in general, “Departure” is about one specific game.

In 2008, Microsoft Game Studios released “Alan Wake“, a trippy psychological horror game with lots of good boogeyman-jumping-out-of-the-dark scares. The game follows the titular Alan Wake as he tries to find his wife and solve the mystery not only of her disappearance, but of the paranormal things occurring in the small town where they went for vacation. Over the course of the game, Alan finds pages for a novel he can’t remember writing. The contents of this novel are coming true in chilling ways. Gradually Alan figures out what’s going on in the town and how to save his wife. And somehow in the midst of all that, he comes to call his novel “Departure”.

There were some elements of the game I really enjoyed. The lore was interesting, the setting was fun, some of the mechanics were nifty, and much of the music was excellent. Beyond that…well, Yahtzee over at The Escapist made some pretty good points. It was especially brain-breaking how the character Alan Wake was supposedly a really talented author, but seemed to completely fail to understand basic writing devices such as proper punctuation and grammar, and how he was really fond of using passive voice and other really irritating things.

But, as I said, I really enjoyed the lore. If you’re at all familiar with my songwriting, you’ll know that lore—backstory, worldbuilding, mythology, folklore—gets my creative juices flowing better than just about anything else.

So I was watching my husband play “Alan Wake” one evening, and I got the chorus for this song stuck in my head. Massaging the verses out of my brain took a little while, partially because that’s just how my brain works, and partially because I had to wait for Sean to finish the game before I could finish the song. But don’t worry—there are no spoilers. If you’re still playing through the game like some of my friends are, I tried to write this song such that it would only make one hundred percent sense to someone who has played the game all the way through before…while still including enough of the story that it would be entertaining to someone who has never even heard of the game, much less played it. It’s a balancing act, and a fine like to walk. Here’s hoping I succeeded.

Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

Truer words were never written than the ones on Cauldron Lake.
I know now that coming here was a terrible mistake.
We stepped into a game that we had no intent to play,
Now it’s up to you, my love, to try to find the way.        The way out – I want out.
       It began with a dream, but now nightmare holds us fast—
       She’ll trap us in the story until the very last.
       Never stop running, don’t believe what’s before your eyes
       When evil masquerades behind the most unsuspected guise…       I’m quite taken with you…

              Wake up, wake up
              There’s still time left to find me.
              Wake up, wake up,
              Break the darkness that binds me.
              There’s terror in the night that only you can burn away,
              And a path for us to both get back into the light of day,
              But only if you wake
              Wake up.

It swirls in vague uncertainty, the world beyond the deep,
Like shadows in the twilight, like a song you hear in sleep.
Yet somewhere in the rhythm of the play ‘twixt dark and light,
I sense you’re out there searching, and you won’t give up the fight.        Outside, there’s only darkness.
       You’re in the company of madmen, the ingenious, and deranged,
       Chasing down the talent from which you feel estranged,
       Yet everything that’s happened has come from words that are your own,
       And your self-appointed editor won’t leave well enough alone.        Keep going…

              Wake up, wake up
              There’s still time left to find me.
              Wake up, wake up,
              Break the darkness that binds me.
              There’s terror in the night that only you can burn away,
              And a path for us to both get back into the light of day,
              But only if you wake
              Wake up.

The threads that bind we two into the story as it flows
Are dark with ink and blood, both, and the further that it goes,
You’ll learn the truth and find the scars even Zane could not erase,
And somehow, one way or another, it’ll all click into place.        It seems like ages I’ve waited.
       It’s a puzzle you must solve to win and make the ending yours,
       Wherein lies the key to lock or unlock certain doors.
       Then when everything is said and done and day surpasses night,
       Find the balance in the darkness so that I can find the light.        It’s not a lake… It’s an ocean.

              Wake up, wake up
              Down the rabbit hole you’ll find me
              Wake up, wake up
              Don’t walk the road so blindly
              Beset upon by nightmare, you’re the man of my dreams,
              And I need you to fight for me, despite how hard it seems,
              So please, Wake…
              Wake up.

Leave a Reply