- The dark place I found myself in was unlike anything I could ever have imagined; it wasn't solid, it flowed. It was conceptual and subjective.
- ― Alan Wake
The Dark Place is a supernatural location appearing in Alan Wake. It is a surreal alternate dimension wherein works of art can influence and rewrite reality. Cauldron Lake acts as a paranormal gateway into the Dark Place, and through it, the area around Bright Falls has been subject to constant manipulation by forces living within the Dark Place for centuries.
The Dark Place's origins are unknown, though it appears to have always existed, connected to the real world through Cauldron Lake in the Cascade Mountains of Washington, among other places. Over the centuries, entities from the Dark Place have attempted to enter the universe, influencing the reality surrounding Bright Falls. The Dark Presence is one such entity, which took advantage of writers and artists and attempted to use them to write itself into existence and take over the world. It was thwarted on three occasions, first by Thomas Zane, then by the Old Gods of Asgard, and most recently by Alan Wake. Currently, both Zane and Wake are trapped within the Dark Place, having written themselves out of reality to prevent the Dark Presence from spreading.
The Dark Place is a surreal and dreamlike dimension which undergoes constant shifts and modulations. Alan Wake describes it as "conceptual and subjective," flowing rather than being solid. The Dark Place is a realm influenced by the mind, wherein creative acts of imagination have immense and nearly uncontrollable power. Through its connection to the real world, the powers of the Dark Place have the capability of turning creative works into reality. As it reflects the imaginations, emotions, and mental states of those within it, the Dark Place appears differently to each of those who encounter it. To Alan, it appears as a vast expanse of dark clouds and dark spaces, with various scenes from his memory juxtaposed with one another, and floating words possessing the capability of becoming real.
The Dark Place is infinite in expanse, and is far larger than the ordinary universe, encompassing it in its entirety. The "real world" is said to be merely an island within this vast ocean of darkness. Various supernatural entities exist within the Dark Place, including the Dark Presence and the Bright Presence. These forces have attempted to enter ordinary reality, their motivation unknown; Mr. Scratch implied that their powers are insignificant in the scope of the Dark Place, but because they can make a major impact in the real world, these entities possess an interest in invading it. Many of them take advantage of artists and creators from the real world to influence the Dark Place in such a way as to make them manifest in the real world.
The Dark Place exhibits mysterious "laws of drama," as described by Alan, which demand a balance within the elements that are created therein. Alan was forced to remove himself from reality in exchange for Alice's freedom. It is unknown if this balance is inherent in the Dark Place or is simply a matter of the relationship between the Bright and Dark Presences.
- The Dark Place possesses similarities to the Otherworld from the Silent Hill series.