Is there a bad ending? (Also: plot discussion, spoilers)

#1DualGreenPosted 3/30/2012 6:50:06 AM
I bought the game yesterday and finished it today, only getting stuck on two different puzzles. 2-23 had me stuck for a little while because I had no idea you could grab an orb out of a 'lantern' that was currently in motion (I would have finished it in a few minutes if I had gone in knowing that, I don't feel like the game ever demonstrated this very well). 4-6 (the spider's number 6 puzzle) also had me stuck for seriously around 2 hours (I actually called it quits because I had been up wayyyyy too long, and finished it waking up this morning), because I had no idea how I was supposed to get back once I had put all 3 lanterns into their holes. I feel like the solution to that puzzle was a little asininely specific, and that the last set of puzzles were excessively tedious.

The nature of the game lends puzzles to be more satisfying when you don't have to get lighting position exactly right, as if you miss a 'necessary' jump/fall with the lighting just slightly out of position, it can cause you to rule out putting light there when it may still be the solution. I had 4-6 "figured out" for quite some time before I was actually able to realize where I was supposed to put the light to get back. I feel like a lot of puzzle games that attempt to be difficult fall prey to this. The designer gets wrapped up in seeing their solution as obvious once you have the general gist, and don't realize how annoying it will be for the player to see exactly where things were meant to go, even if they understand roughly what you're meant to do. Several puzzles in the last set were like this.

But, overall, I really enjoyed the game (may or may not write a review on selectbutton and possibly here). The presentation feels a little bit too "edgy" (especially with how obnoxious the music became, at times), and I did feel like I had fallen into a silly teenage fantasy combination of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Invader Zim, at times, but I suppose therein lied some of the game's charm (I really enjoyed both of "The Dishwasher" games, too, and they had a somewhat similarly juvenile presentation). I need to stop criticizing it before it sounds like I hated it - it was really well designed, lots of elements of the presentation were still enjoyable, it had a unique premise, etc.

Anyway, from what I can gather from the ending, each of the three characters you had the spider wear the mask of were dead, and you were guiding them through purgatory? The trophies' names seem to lead me to this conclusion ("The River" - i.e. Styx and "Welcome to Purgatory"). I'm guessing the woman went comatose in her car crash and died in the hospital, the worker fell when adjusting a light and died (the helicopter at the end perhaps a medical evacuation helicopter?) and the little girl died because... I have no idea (clearly, the cat was a terrorist explosive). It seems like it is the spider's job (or perhaps he is just friendly and takes it upon himself) to guide these people to a proper afterlife.

I don't understand what those 5 ninja-looking characters were, but I imagine from their watchful presence that they look over/rule purgatory (and aren't incredibly pleasant about it?). If there was a bad ending, I never got it, because I already had all thirty moths before finishing the game. I feel like I'm missing out on a bad ending that might have made more sense of what happened, can anybody explain to me what happened, if there was one? Also, what was the point of placing the masks on pedestals and 'eliminating' 3 of the 5 watchers? I'm guessing the moths somehow represent guiding the spirits of the deceased characters to the gates to heaven/a more pleasant afterlife (finding closure), and that the large moth is the spirit of the spider-guy?

Any elaboration will be appreciated. I seem to miss a lot of context clues when playing indie games, and it drives me nuts they rely so heavily on them to make any damn sense of what happened.
#2DualGreen(Topic Creator)Posted 3/30/2012 6:54:34 AM
It just dawned on me that the 3 characters you play as might not actually be dead, but merely comatose and struggling for their lives, somehow. I don't feel like there was anything really cementing it either way.
#3DualGreen(Topic Creator)Posted 3/30/2012 7:18:18 AM
Okay, I played through the ending again and noticed stone tablets with roman numberals going from I-VII, indicating that the 10 levels you do as the spider are on the first level, the area where you see the five watchers are is II, and then the five levels you go through as the moth are III-VII (each one featuring a different one of the five watchers). If these are meant to correspond to the seven levels of purgatory, why are there only five watchers? I can't think of their corresponding sins, either.

Sometimes, I just wish games like this would be a little more clear :|
#4SirNikoPosted 3/31/2012 10:08:43 AM
I like your interpretation of the Factory worker. I hadn't considered literally interpreting his plight as connected to adjusting that first light. It seems reasonable to assume he fell and was injured or trapped or both. The frequent references to clocks suggest he was stuck for a long time. The bit with the mine carts and grasping claws when you rise through the water in the level with the six barrels at the start seem to tell a story, but I was never sure what.

In the Carnival scenario, I interpreted that the little girl was never injured - rather, she was out searching for her lost cat. In the end, the cat vanishes in the presence of a grim reaper-like character, and I interpreted that as the little girl accepting that her cat had died. In the end she returns home to her bed without the cat.

The hospital features a beating heart which suggests the woman is still alive, though perhaps comatose. It's a little ambiguous what may have happened to her after the crash. The fact she spends so much time in the woods, crawling through a drain, suggests that maybe she was forced to seek help for herself. Unlike the original game, which has a large number of levels in the hospital setting, this one ends pretty abruptly after the hospital. It's possible that she arrives at the hospital and immediately receives treatment, hence the sudden ending of that scenario.

The mention of purgatory and 'the river' does seem to strongly imply death is involved, though perhaps instead you could assume the spider-creature was instead helping those people to survive and escape death, rather than guiding departed souls to the afterlife. Completing each world seems to lead the character to a final salvation for a happy ending, which fits with a theme of rescue.

As an aside, the 'watchers' in the last level of the last area were incredibly creepy. The way they hover over you and just stare at you is exceptionally unsettling.

I don't know how to interpret the part at the end with the masks and the watchers. Putting the masks on the pedestals doesn't seem to imply anything whatsoever and I don't get where that was going.
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#5DualGreen(Topic Creator)Posted 3/31/2012 2:11:11 PM
Thanks for your post - it got me thinking along with you that perhaps their stories all end with them getting to safety. You guide the man back from his fall to evacuation, you guide the woman to a hospital so that she may survive and you guide the little girl safely through the carnival (perhaps to receive closure on the death of her cat).

Maybe the spider-guy is the only one trapped in purgatory, and through helping people who are still alive through troubles/near death experiences, he is granted leave from purgatory to heaven? It is possible he was only able to communicate/interact with them while they were unconscious, and was guiding their spirits back to their bodies so they would not end up trapped in purgatory, like himself.

I'm still not sure what significance the watchers hold - there's clearly references to the seven levels of purgatory, but there are only 5 watchers. There could be a mixture of mythologies, though. It doesn't necessarily have to entirely be Christian influences in how the game depicts afterlife.

There's a possibility the watchers are meant to depict "The Five Evils," rather than the seven deadly sins, which is a Sikh thing. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Evils - If so, the creator is probably the millionth person to be like "Oh, hey, how do I depict lust? Oh, I know, I'll have that one be the only woman lol." If they are supposed to be the five evils, then DEEP SIGH at the level of transparency in choosing the only one of the five who is a woman to depict lust. Kind of sick of that sexist BS and would like to see someone try to go outside the norm, here.

Asura's Wrath (which I loved!) also had a single female antagonist, and she also embodied lust. Full Metal Alchemist did about the same thing, too. These are just two examples off the top of my head, but it's way too typical. I guess as a woman, I just get kinda sick of this crap! Why not make lust some perverted guy and have the rest of the antagonists as strong female characters?

Sorry, I'm going off on a tangent, here. It just bothers me how subversive sexism in games seems to be without people even realizing it. The game does feature two female protagonists, but they're both incredibly vulnerable and it's implied they both need the help of something else to survive. The watchers are also shown coveting the woman character in one of the levels, as well (in a particularly creepy way, I might add). Closure isn't a grievous offender in terms of sexism or anything, it's just sad to see more if it.

Anyway, Sikh sometimes believe in a pentad of the evils, and they're also sometimes called the five thieves, which would explain the watchers' appearances (which look thieve-y).
#6No_MegaPosted 4/8/2012 7:25:18 PM
I cracked up at how you managed to find sexism in this game.
#7MrBeensPosted 4/11/2012 9:07:42 AM(edited)
Excellent discussion. I didn't make any of these connections while playing, but thinking back on it, they all make sense. It makes me want to play through again.

One interesting thing, all the 'names' of the places, and subsequent discussion, stem purely from the trophies. As far as actual in-game content nothing is named or suggested. Makes me wonder what direction the discussion would have taken if the game was released before trophies were standard. How 'cannon' are trophy names in relation to the game?

To answer your initial question, there is no other ending. If you don't have all the moths, then you run out of moths before you are able to open all the doors in the final level. Your moth just sputters out and falls off the bottom of the screen, and you are booted back out to the hub.

The only thing that I can think of that may affect the ending, is where you place the 3 masks on the 5 pedestals. If my math is correct, there are 60 different 'combinations' here. Maybe 1 of them is the 'correct' combination, and leads to a different ending?