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Alan Wake 2: What Are the Spiral Symbols? Explained

Learn about the meaning behind the Spiral Doors in Alan Wake 2.

Remedy Entertainment’s latest offering will have you second-guessing what you know about the reality that your characters live in. Our guide discusses the significance of the spiral in Alan Wake 2, but please note this article contains major spoilers.

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What Is the Meaning of the Spiral Symbols in Alan Wake 2?

The spiral symbols in Alan Wake 2 refer to the “structure” of the Dark Place where the eponymous character is trapped.

Can You Enter Spiral Doors in Alan Wake 2?

The Spiral Doors in Alan Wake 2 are encountered by both Saga and Alan. The spiral symbol itself is seen drawn on specific doors. If you attempt to interact with these, you’ll be prevented from passing through. So you might be wondering how, or if, you can open them. Here’s a quick summary:

  • In Return 5: Old Gods, there’s a spiral symbol door on the third floor of Valhalla Nursing Home. It’s impossible to unlock it even if you do the Valhalla Nursing Home puzzle. Likewise, when Saga attempts to open it, Ahti will warn her: “Getting in is forbidden, for your own safety.”
  • In the Initiation chapters with Alan, you’ll see the spiral symbol on a door in his apartment in Parliament Hotel. Alan will remark that there’s another task at hand that he needs to do first. You won’t be able to interact with the door again.
  • However, you eventually get to enter the Valhalla Nursing Home spiral door. During Initiation 9: Gone, the janitor Ahti will finally let you through. It’s revealed that the passageway leads back to the Writer’s Room. Next is a segment where Alan has to write a new ending for Saga’s story to trap Scratch and escape from the Dark Place.
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It’s Not a Loop, It’s a Spiral

Alan utters this particular line at the end of the campaign: “It’s not a loop, it’s a spiral.” I’ve theorized that this is a nod to the conclusion of the previous game. Here’s what you need to know:

  • In the original Alan Wake, the character remarks: “It’s not a lake, it’s an ocean.” I consider this as a metaphorical explanation of what the Dark Place truly is. While a lake might be smaller and shallower, an ocean is vastly larger and deeper. As such, I’ve interpreted that the mysteries surrounding the Dark Place are infinitely more vast than what we’ve come to expect.
  • There’s a bigger shared universe among Remedy Entertainment’s other games, which include the Alan Wake titles, Control, and perhaps even Quantum Break due to the appearance of Tim Breaker (a nod to Shawn Ashmore’s character as someone who can manipulate time).

Loops in Alan Wake 2

In the case of the Alan Wake 2 spiral symbols, there are instances when characters find themselves stuck repeating a loop. Here are some examples:

  • Whenever Saga enters an Overlap, there are sections where she goes through samey-looking areas. However, there are some key differences, too.
  • Several segments during Alan’s chapters in the Talk Show Studio clearly note that he’s experiencing a loop.
  • Tim Breaker asks Alan if his memory is okay whenever they encounter each other. The implication might be that Alan forgets important details whenever he goes through loops.
  • Alan goes through twisting and looping passageways, such as the narrow portion of the alleyway and the projector room in Zane’s Film chapter.

The most important facet regarding the spiral in Alan Wake 2 occurs during the game’s ending. In it, Saga shoots Alan in the Writer’s Room so she can escape. This concludes the nightmare.

However, just when you thought Alan was dead, a mid-credits scene plays. That’s when Alice Wake, Alan’s wife, says he must keep going. Alan then regains consciousness, seemingly alive, and utters the closing line: “It’s not a loop, it’s a spiral.

Alan has to continuously experience repeated loops as he goes deeper into the Dark Place. While a loop implies that you’ll go around in a never-ending circle, a spiral means you move around in circles until you reach the very center. This would set up future DLCs and another sequel, not to mention more references to Remedy’s future offerings.

In any case, that’s everything you need to know about the significance of the spirals in Alan Wake 2. For other tips and tactics, you can visit our AW2 guides hub.


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Jason Rodriguez
Jason Rodriguez is a game reviewer and guides writer from the Philippines. With around 5,000 published articles, he's freelanced for numerous outlets, including GameSkinny, GameSpot, Polygon, IGN, PCGamesN, PC Invasion, and more.