Plot spoiler for Day of the Tentacle. Lots of speculation and possibly spoilery details about the Witness.
Man….I can’t win.
I play games to get away from reality (among other reasons). I certainly play games like Tentacle to escape into a silly world where putting things in time traveling port-a-potties is something you do.
So last night I learn that Purple Tentacle takes over the world by running as the GOP Vice President, takes over when the President goes crazy, then promptly amends the Constitution so that humans have no rights.
It’s really getting to the point where nothing is funny anymore.
Best to stay with deep. And nudity. It is almost Friday, after all.
Yeah, see, I don’t need that. I’m going to say I totally saw it coming and that’s why I quit Tentacle so early.
On-the-nose political commentary is not what I’m after right now.
What I am after is confusion and pretty scenery, which the Witness reliably delivers.
So. I went to the forest.
Ha ha, dude. You just thought it would be funny to send me off somewhere where I’d have to pay attention to sound, didn’t you?
Now, this was a nice twist, and I liked the way a momentary sense of ‘Wait, birdsong? Is there something alive here after all?” turned into “no, those are speakers…and that’s the same birdsong over and over, when I stand right here…”
I don’t have, probably, the keenest ear for pitch and so forth, so I did four or five of them and then got tired of it (argh, enough already with the warbling bird and the ringing phone and the wolf howl!), but I’ll go back later. In the meantime, I wandered over into the ‘town,’ or more accurately the ‘three or four buildings close together,’ and found the wall where the Tetris blocks are combined with Pac-Man dots. Did a couple of those before bedtime.
So I didn’t get anywhere major, but I did some things.
And no political commentary to be found. Very refreshing.
Yeeesssss…..you saw it coming…….We can go with that if you like.
That’s the jungle! Those aren’t trees! They’re bamboo and shit! You’ve been living in metro Boston too long, can’t recognize a tree when you see it.
In my defense, I did not sent you there. But that’s ok, cuz you were gonna get there eventually anyway. And it’s next to the greenhouse, so ok.
But yeah, a cool mechanic if there ever was one. One where headphones helped no end.
Indeed, this game took some shit when it came out because people criticized the fact that the game is pretty much impossible to complete if you are hard of hearing. (Spoiler alert! This area has a….YELLOW BOX!) Now, I sympathize with people who have physical difficulties. I don’t want to sound cold. But is it really up to a game to make sure everyone can finish it? I don’t know how I feel about that. You?
(It’s interesting no one bitched, or at least didn’t bitch as loud, about this being equally impossible if you’re colorblind. But I digress.)
It was neat that, once again, we get a sense that things either USED to be alive here and were “preserved” in some way (stone, recordings, etc.), or any semblance of life was brought in (as a recording, as a representation of someone from some other place). You’re right: they AREN’T birdsongs. They’re a preservation of a birdsong that already happened.
Either of the options I present raise interesting questions re the player.
Pac-Man…Oooo! The ones where you had to hit every single intersection of everything? That was the last time I had a “wake in the night three days later” moment.
Dude, some of it’s bamboo (a weirdly creepy little dim bamboo forest maze, too), but some of it is these very tall, mossy trees. Non-bamboo trees. You go back and check.
Fine, I picked the wrong forest. I’ll look for the forest you were talking about next time. Or some time. I don’t know when.
And yeah, the recorded birdsongs do make you think…is everything here, including me, just a preserved example of something?
There are museum-like elements here: certainly the statues in their various poses, the wildly different environments existing feet away from each other…the recorded snippets of quotes from different people (interesting thing I meant to note: at the end of one I heard a few nights ago the woman reading the quote kind of sighed and said “what?”–like, she was no longer reading a passage but was actually speaking for herself. To ask a question suggestive of “what’s happening” or “what do you want”…interesting). This whole world could be seen as a sort of museum of pretty or interesting earthly or human-type things that someone or something thought were cool, and has preserved in some way.
Maybe I myself, the PC, am similarly preserved, as an interesting example of how humans like to solve puzzles. One could imagine some vast entity wandering over every now and then to see what its amusing little consciousness remnant is currently up to in the puzzle terrarium. This would account for the fact that even though we apparently have a body that casts a shadow, we never see our hands manipulating anything in the puzzles, we can’t jump off cliffs, we can’t sit down on things or pick things up…
Or maybe we are actually conventionally alive (in some fashion, anyway), but we’re still in a fake world, like a fish in a tank or a guinea pig in a nice cage, or–the thought cannot be avoided–a rat in a maze.
If the world–or at least the island that is all we can see of the world–is fake, who built it? And why?
All we can do is keep solving puzzles.
The forest I reference was by the QUARRY and the KEEP. You are by the TOWN and the GREENHOUSE. Big difference!
Preserved. Yup. Especially as where you start is very artificial. You start at the end of a big metal pipe. That does suggest something very synthetic.
I never thought about it like a museum, but you’re right. Even the map on the boat looks more like the map you’d get to guide you around the zoo than a more traditional map of a place. The areas are little stylized drawings, like the pictures of lions and hippos and snack bars you’d get on a pamphlet.
I didn’t notice the pause and what, but, as you mention the recordings, something I’ve meant to bring up now that you’ve found a few: they’re in different voices. These aren’t one person narrating your experience. Or, at least, it doesn’t look that way on the surface, as some are male, some are female, etc. But then, what you noticed could be read as there’s some director behind the scenes telling them what to read and how. So are these recordings all coming from the same person/source/God/whatever or not? I was assuming not, but now you have me second guessing myself.
All we can do is keep solving puzzles in the hope….dare I say…the FAITH that, if we just solve enough of them, all the answers we want will reveal themselves. We’ve been blogging about “What do you think this MEANS? Who do you think MADE this? What is our ROLE? What is our relationship to whoever DID this?” which are all questions a lot of very intelligent philosophers, religious thinkers and scientists have asked for centuries, and will for centuries more. And they do so thinking, hoping, believing that there IS an answer, or answers, that can be known.
Mrs. McP, the scientist, believes this with a zealous fervor. That every question can and should be definitively answered. It’s why she does what she does.
And we certainly believe this from the game. We both think that when we get to the end we’ll know…if not everything…a hell of a lot more.
Which is, well, faith.
All this from a game about drawing lines.
And we’ll talk A LOT more when you find….hmm.
It’s true, wandering around a mysterious world solving individual puzzles in the hopes that somehow it will all add up to the answers to all the questions you have about where you are, and why, and who made it…it is all suggestive of faith. Sort of.
I mean, one could also argue that “who made this world?” and “why am I here?” and “what is it for?” are questions that are traditionally ANSWERED by faith, not asked by it. Philosophers and religious thinkers ASK, but religion is there to provide the answer, and faith…well, faith is there to help us accept the answer even when it doesn’t make sense.
Which could be what’s going on here, but I’m not sure.
We are definitely taking the role of a questioner, and the scattered quotes from other religious seekers definitely give our search a religious cast, but I think it’s premature (at least from where I am) to conclude that the answer is going to be ‘God’ or even ‘a being of godlike power.’
We’ve also had quotes from scientists, after all, and while ‘natural evolution’ seems an unlikely explanation for what we’re seeing, it could turn out that, say, a random wormhole storm has pulled all these things from different regions and different eras into one temporal bubble, and then the few surviving people built screens as a big project to keep themselves sane, or something.
Or maybe I AM the mastermind: maybe I built the screens myself, and then erased my memory so I could start over again fresh, just to have something to do with my eternity. Maybe this is the 8 millionth time I’ve done these puzzles, and I just begin again every time, because what else can I do, stuck here…trapped on this deserted island, as the saying goes.
Which, yeah…”What would you take with you to a deserted island?” is a famous question. Maybe everything on this island is someone’s answer…or maybe it’s random.
We can only keep solving puzzles in the hope–though I do not have faith on this point–that there is an answer somewhere.
Yeah, that’s what I’m getting at. We’re having faith that all of our solutions to the puzzles of the world, our of our attempts to answer, will add up to the GRAND answer.
Maybe it’s more suggestive of science. “There is an answer to be found, and, if I keep on plugging and applying reason, I shall find it.”
I let you go there because, you were doing so well listing all the things you’ve found. The sciency, technological puzzles, the recordings, the statues…..you forgot one: The obelisks.
Which do not seem to be part of the modern, sciency pattern of the panels, now do they?
I don’t know if I do have faith that it will add up to the Grand Answer. I mean, I HOPE it will all make sense, but as we’ve noted, the payoff is not always equal to the buildup in weird mysteries.
Which is true in life as well as in games. Sometimes the explanation is unsatisfying. Still, I agree it’s a bit more like science. “If I can solve this one…and this one…and this one…I’ve learned something! One tiny piece of the whole!”
As for the obelisks, I don’t know, they don’t seem necessarily non-sciencey. They hum, which makes me think of a power source. I could see them being nicely stylized batteries or something. Sleek and black and shiny, like our gaming consoles. A more modern aesthetic than most of the technology we see, but it could still be technology.
Or it could be magic! I don’t know!
AH HA! Look at THAT metaphor! Payoff not equal to buildup…
And note: We’re coming at this as…..less than pious people. There are LOTS of people who expect either science or religion to lead to a very definitive Grand Answer. My in laws believe that they will be up there with Jesus in a big purple chair and all will be revealed.
And, as a non pious person, I doubt my in laws will get their big purple chairs. Maybe, if we’re lucky, there’ll be a pattern or some shit.
“I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of the big purple chair…”
It’s true, we have our godless liberal tendencies inclining us to a skeptical reading. If we were more pious people we could easily take this whole thing as a parable.
Say, we’re meant to see the island as symbolic of the world, and we have only to look around at the world to see that it was obviously designed for some purpose, and that the Maker has clearly left clues as to His (or Her, but let’s be real, it’s His) intentions for us, if we are only willing to seek them out. Maybe each puzzle represents a spiritual test, and the overarching story of the game is of a person overcoming barrier after barrier placed in our path by godless technology and the material world in an attempt to keep the soul from the knowledge of God. Maybe the answer in the game isn’t as simple as “God did it,” but whatever the answer is, it REPRESENTS the ultimate answer in real life, which is “God did it.”
That’s downright inspiring, man.
It is interesting that, whether we see this quest for knowledge as religious or scientific (or some combination: early science was basically a religious enterprise, after all, an attempt to understand God’s creation), it’s presented as a fundamentally lonely journey. There is no one else here to help (or to hinder).
This isn’t religion as commonly practiced, with a community of other believers sharing and affirming one another’s faith, and it’s not science as commonly practiced, with a community of other scientists directly collaborating and/or building on one another’s work. (Though there is a long tradition of mystic hermits in religion, and of lone geniuses in science…and an equally long tradition of not paying nearly as much attention to the many, less interesting people who supported and assisted the hermits and lone geniuses, but that’s perhaps neither here nor there.)
Whether by choice or not, this quest we’re on is one we must do alone. Which now I think about it makes it feel more like a religious quest, since we hear it said that each soul must find its own way to God, where we don’t hear that each person must find their own way to gravitational theory or something. Although current teaching methods do try to stress individual or group discovery over rote memorization, so we can’t rule out that it’s all part of some big lesson plan.
This is deep, all right.
Full disclosure: I stole the “big purple chair” thing from a Frank Zappa song called “Elvis has just left the building.” Should probably cite that.
As for your parable, well…..I’m not sure that’s not….hmm. Hmm. You’ll get to a serious HMM about all that at some point.
So I will just hmm for now.
Good point about us being alone. If anything, the other “people” in the game, that is, the statues, have, to this point, only served to make things more confusing. Why are they stone? When are they from? ARE they people?
I’m trying to remember how many of the statues seemed “alone.” Usually, we see the statues in big crowds, like in the keep. They were all over the damn place. I can remember two that stand out as being alone (one’s right in the town there, you’ve probably seen it), as well as one other that’s a little off the beaten path, and those BOTH are in a position of divine reverence: the dude in the town is looking up at the heavens, arms outstretched, palms up, the other is on one knee, reaching towards the heavens. The others, the crowds, like in the keep, are certainly busy with earthly pursuits, be they fighting, or sitting on a throne, or courting, or what have you. Alone=more traditionally religious. We are alone.
Keep all this in mind if and when you get to the endgame. I wish I could talk about some stuff.
Deep. I know, right?
It’s a game about tracing damn lines.
Right. Big purple chair. Thank you, Zappa!
Interesting point about the statues that are with other statues being the ones who are seemingly engaged in human pursuits that involve other people (playing music, speaking from a throne, answering a door), while the ones that are alone (I’ve seen the dude in the town, not sure about the other one) appear to be imploring the heavens.
Perhaps we’re one of the solitary ones who will not be distracted by human things, but must engage in lonely quests for Truth?
I say ‘must’ because it may not be that we have a choice…the dude imploring the heavens in the town doesn’t look exactly HAPPY about it. I get the sense he’s just as likely to be wailing “why, God, why?” in reference to some impending or recent disaster (perhaps the one that wrecked the tower he’s standing next to?), as he is to be singing the praises of the good Lord.
Perhaps we, too, are seeking answers after a disaster, more than we are looking for a general Truth just because we hunger for Truth.
Here again the question arises: is “The Witness” meant in a religious or a forensic sense?
Ooh, also I wanted to say, nice use of the vague “hmm” and “you’ll see a thing at a point” there!
Elvis has just left the building, those are his footprints right there.
That one in the town especially seems like a seeker. And he’s so central. You’re MEANT to see that.
I tried to figure if he was looking at something specific, but couldn’t tell.
But yeah, he looks very unhappy. I wonder….I did that particular yellow box last (or, what I figure is last, based on trophies), which means, if that was the natural progression of the game (and, given the town has every single other thing), that particular “why God why” dude was “close” to whatever. THIS CLOSE. About to figure things out? About to…what?
I’m not sure we’re ever supposed to know if it’s religious or forensic….though….Hm.
Interesting thought! The heavens-imploring dude might have sensed himself about to turn to stone and said “why, why now?! I’m so close!”
Maybe we’re going to turn to stone at the end as well. Maybe all the other statues represent people who were seeking the truth in their own way, and they didn’t find it either.
Hm…I could see that for some of them, like the musician and the woman on the throne (seeking truth through music/art, and through power), and maybe the fencers (seeking it through athletic feats and/or combat), but I’m not sure about the Secret Servicey guys at the doors. “We seek truth through guarding and serving others”? Seems a stretch.
You mean the guy pointing at the thing?
But on that….
Found any other videos? I’ve only found one more….the “third” one, I suppose…and it would be relevant to this….
Is one of the sword-wielding Secret Service guys pointing at a thing? I haven’t been back there in a while.
And no, I haven’t found any other videos. Although I also haven’t been back to the windmill in a while, but I assume there would be more of those honeycomb patterns involved, and I haven’t seen any of them out and about recently.
One of the more modern ones. And I’d like to take credit for my brilliance, but Jr. saw it, not me.
Yup. Honeycombs. And I’m still missing four. FOUR!
I hate knowing that.
Wow. That’s a lot of honeycombs hidden out there somewhere. In such a small, contained world you’d think finding all the animus fragments wouldn’t be so hard!
Though I do them a disservice to compare them to animus fragments, since these do at least provide you with something if you collect them.
All right, I’ll look for pointing statues. Pointing at things. Next time I’m there.
Take your time. Cuz I’m still not sure what it does.
Well, the second honeycomb I found behind a door with a puzzle, much like the first one you find. And there are a couple doors I’ve found (maybe you have, too) that certainly remind me of the type of door that one would have to open to get said honeycomb. These puzzles are impossible. Indeed, Jr. and I refer to one of them (it’s near the sun temple) as “the impossible puzzle.” So there’s probably a honeycomb in there. But…well…impossible.
It’s too bad because based on the two I do have there’s some crazy, crazy themeage there.
The Impossible Puzzle sounds great. Can’t wait to meet it.
And I’m not generally a proponent of this, but are you going to get to a point where you just look it up on the internet in order to finish the game with that information?
I WOULD if it was necessary to finishing the game, but I don’t think it is. Platinuming? Yes. Good bloggage? Yes. But finish? Doesn’t seem so. It’s so off the beaten path as to be missable.
We cheat to finish.
But we do occasionally say “So, want to take another crack at The Impossible Puzzle?” And we do, and we stare, and we say “fuck it.”