Alan Wake 2: Who is Scratch?

Scratch is introduced in the first Alan Wake character as sort of an evil doppelganger to Alan Wake, sort of the Dark Prescence taking over his identity. He’s not really delved deep into in the original game, but comes about in the follow-up materials where he’s more defined as the Dark Prescence’s form when it escapes the Dark Place.

Scratch is and isn’t Alan Wake himself. Alan Wake has been confined in the Dark Place for 13 years until the events of Alan Wake 2, so the Scratch in Alan Wake: American Nightmare is not Alan Wake himself.

In Control we learn that Alice Wake is being haunted / tormented by Scratch.

That is more or less the extent of who and what Scratch is known as. The name Scratch is just a replacement more or less for “The Dark Prescence” as it can’t speak and its name comes across as just scratching noises.

Alan Wake 2 and Scratch

In Alan Wake 2 you’re confronted with a lot of subversion. You rescue Alan Wake in Bright Falls right after the effective prologue, yet you also at the same time play as Alan Wake in the Dark Place. Alan Wake is chased by Scratch in the Dark Place who is trying to rewrite his book, Return.

This is where things get confusing. Alan Wake is indeed Scratch because Alan Wake leaves the Dark Place possessed by Scratch. Furthermore, Alan Wake is Scratch within the Dark Place when he is writing as Scratch.

The Dark Prescence is more or less the negative emotions of artists built into an SCP like folklore loosely based around Baba Yaga. The wall of screaming faces is Scratch, because it’s the negative emotions and power of the Dark Prescence. Likewise, Alan Wake while possessed by the power (i.e. he is no longer intentionally writing himself) is also Scratch as it has taken him over.

Is Alan Wake Scratch?

Throughout Alan Wake 2, until Saga Anderson hits Alan Wake with the lights outside the Sheriff’s Office, Alan Wake for all intents and purposes is Scratch. Once the light removes “Scratch” from him, the dark prescence moves to Casey and resides there until the ending.

In the ending, Alan writes Casey in as an innocent bystander, causing it to return to him in which Saga “ends it” by shooting it with the light bullet. However, since this is again the negative thoughts of an artist, the “loop” or spiral continues and everything “resets” with some lingering echoes.

This goes into The Final Draft where you play through the spiral again (with additional content) and Alan having the realization at the end that he can write a better ending, that he can overcome the negative emotions and thus him, Saga and Casey escape The Dark Place.

What is The Dark Prescence?

This is a very long story, but essentially Thomas Zane (Thomas Saine) and Barbera Jagger go to Bright Falls to setup an artist commune. A psychologist, Hartman, wants to experiment on Caludron Lake and its ability to manipulate reality via talented artists. This sets off the events, ultimately leaving players asking who is a fictional character written into reality and who isn’t part of the story.

In the Remedy Expanded Universe it’s aligned with “shadows” or darkness. The “hiss” is aligned with the “hissing noise” and the entities are very similar. This is seen in Control when Hartman becomes possesed by both.

The best explanation I have ever understood is that it’s basically if you take Baba Yaga and fuel it off the pain of artists. So it both exists as an entity but is also the more or less negative emotions of artists themselves.

We hope this deep dive into Scratch helps answer your Alan Wake 2 questions!

David Piner, an accomplished video game journalist since 2001, excels in developing comprehensive guides and engaging content to enrich the gaming experience. As the esteemed former Managing Editor at TTH (as David "Xerin" Piner) for over a decade, David established a strong reputation for his perceptive analysis, captivating content, and streamlined guides. Having led skilled teams of writers and editors, David has been instrumental in producing an extensive collection of articles, reviews, and guides tailored to both casual and hardcore gamers aiming to enhance their skills. Dedicated to player-centric content, David meticulously crafts guides and articles with the players' interests in mind. He is a proud member of OUT Georgia and fervently champions equity and equality across all spheres.