Endings theories and discussion

Discussion of the game should go here. Let's keep the rest of the forum free from spoilers! :-)
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RightClickSaveAs
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Endings theories and discussion

Post by RightClickSaveAs » Wed Oct 08, 2014 7:19 pm

I haven't seen much discussion around here about the endings in the finished game yet. There was some about the builds as they came out, but now getting to see them all in the context of the finished game, I'd love to know other peoples' takes on them.

I actually just downloaded the developer commentary but haven't watched the whole thing yet, so that may change my opinion depending on how in depth Matt goes as to the meanings behind the game, but right now this is just my personal interpretation. I also subscribe to the "death of the artist" idea where art can mean something different to the person experiencing it no matter the intent of the artist, so I'll totally hide behind that if I'm ridiculously way off :P

I'll kick it off with my favorite ending: Wayward Dreamer. After being chased through the house by murderous dolls, which I took as one of the many different manifestations of his need to be punished for what he feels he's done, in the last scene, Thomas walks into his sister's (finally normal looking) bedroom to see her sleeping peacefully. He leans over, gives her a kiss, then walks away as it fades to credits.

I loved this scene for its poignancy and closure. I took it as Thomas finally making peace with his sister's death and letting her go. My overall story theory for this branch, which is the first one I played once the final game was out, is that Gabby died to an accident or maybe illness when she was six (date on the headstone), and Thomas has been struggling with the guilt and depression ever since, blaming himself for not being able to prevent her death. Even if he couldn't have done anything about it, he feels responsible somehow, as shown in the scene where he's running after her in the forest but just can't keep up. Now, how she died isn't clear, but it's also not important, I don't think. The key thing is she died at six and he feels responsible. Knives are a common thing, but my take is that's just another manifestation of his depression and guilt. His nightmares torment him in the form of him taking her life by his own hands, but that's just a depressed and guilty mind twisting his nightmares. There is a lot of symbolism involving disemboweling, so I'm probably missing something else there too, but that's my interpretation of that particular branch.

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AironNeil
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Re: Endings theories and discussion

Post by AironNeil » Wed Oct 08, 2014 9:10 pm

For Wayward Dreamer I got a much more boring interpretation of it; which were that his nightmares were just an obsessive worrying about his sister's well-being and the final scene is where he's actually awake and notices that Gabby is alright and it's a really sweet, warm, fuzzy type of ending. Perhaps Gabby was injured after he promised to protect her and that's what led to the nightmares. Of course the "in somnis veritas" or "In dreams there is truth" I'm not too sure of, unless the forest shows where Gabby was injured.

Now I may be going way off here, but the forest was filled with dead animals that were mostly intact, and that could mean that there was a hunter in the forest (also somewhat supported with the creepy man behind her in the painting) that could have actually injured her with a curtain weapon. Like I said, could be way off since I would imagine a hunter using a gun (which did exist in the time period, I'm assuming) rather than an axe.

For Final Decent it seems it's one of the more easier endings to interpret. As I understood it, Gabby had a miscarriage (or abortion which would bring more reason to the hospital-like setting) and Thomas has invasive thoughts about the death of his daughter (represented with the face of Gabby since the baby was never born) and all of the thoughts about babies could explain the persistence of dolls, and baby monsters. The scene that shows Gabby on a hospital bed bleeding shows a flash of the miscarriage, or abortion. the Latin passages from the Bible seem to mostly represent his personal guilt and sorrow. "My God, why have you forsaken me?" seems to suggest this. There's a lot of other symbols in the game as well.

Those are my thoughts on those two endings, just kind of mind puke at the moment since I haven't gotten too much time to put together any of my thoughts that well.

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matt
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Re: Endings theories and discussion

Post by matt » Thu Oct 09, 2014 9:18 am

I like the "death of the artist" idea and wanted to create things that were thought provoking and could mean different things to different people. Unfortunately, since the kickstarter was in trouble, I was forced to add whatever add-ons I could possibly come up with, so with those, you can now find out exactly what I was thinking. I initially didn't want to officially comment on anything. hahah

Perhaps it's reflects poorly on me, but the endings are all sort of vague in my mind (as you'll realize if you hear my unsatisfactory explanations) because to me, the endings weren't really important. I guess that was perhaps not the best approach because they get criticism in a lot of reviews.

Anyway, I think hearing what you guys think is much more important. :)
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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Re: Endings theories and discussion

Post by KungFuChemist » Wed Oct 29, 2014 3:33 pm

While this thread is a little old, it was still on the front page when I wrote this, so I won't consider this a necro if you don't.

I'll start from the "bottom" ending. This one is the most confusing as it doesn't work very well with a lot of the imagery throughout the game. What it does work with is the older sibling psychology that you see in some households, the feeling on behalf of the older sibling that the younger "new" sibling is stifling or infringing on them. The "Baby Golems" as I've come to call them represent this in a more physical violent way, the new child physically attacking the older one. The dolls are more psychological. Thomas probably sees the dolls around the house as a reminder of Gabby's existence. The dolls become increasingly common throughout the game, as they probably do around the house as well. This culminates in a feeling of being surrounded and threatened by them, as seen in the final stage. This could cause the older child to feel antagonistic towards the younger one. These feelings may have gone too far in Thomas' head. He might have thought of attacking or killing Gabby, and he feels guilty at his thoughts. When he wakes up, he's simply happy to see his sister alive and well.
The other pieces of imagery are a mixed bag. The bible passages could comes from feelings of alienation and perhaps he heard the line "My God, why have you forsaken me?" at church or in religious studies. While one could argue that the inmates come from him perhaps visiting a psychologist at some point and feeling like he was being accused of being insane, the imagery is very adult in nature and doesn't make a lot of sense for a child to be thinking. There is also a lot of detail I doubt a child would know. Also, why would he see himself as an adult at first? Does he feel like he's having to be a grown up too quickly with a new child in the house? Possible... but weird. The suicide imagery is also odd.

The "middle" ending is harder to be precise about since there isn't as much to go on. The hospital and asylum imagery work well. Thomas tried to kill himself, so both places work. The baby imagery and the dolls seem to make a lot less sense, but we don't know the "why?" of his suicide attempt. Perhaps there's a relation. Who Gabby is is even in dispute since you can reach this ending while keeping her as a sister or seeing her as a wife. What we do know is that throughout the game, the whispers in the background saying "Thomas" and "Wake up" are both female and, presumably, Gabby. Bible passages work especially well here since they evoke despair which could lead a person to attempt suicide. The suicide imagery is obvious in its relation. Attacking Gabby, though? I'm not as sure. Maybe he felt like he was a burden on her?

My favorite ending to talk about, however, is the "top" one. Everything seems to work out perfectly for it. The Baby Golems represent a grotesque parody of his memories of his daughter as a child, physically tormenting and chasing him. The dolls in various states of disrepair show how old and dilapidated they are becoming without his daughter around to play with them. In fact, everything is in a constant state of decaying around him as each stage progresses, as he comes closer and closer to reality. This represents how much duller everything seems around him and his own rapidly decaying mind. The hospital imagery works perfectly, the asylum imagery works just as well as his wife tries to help him get over his ever-deepening depression (hence why she was the doctor) and he fears where his depression might lead him. (That's one thing about depression too few people understand. Yes, you know you have it. Yes, you know what might happen if it keeps going. No, that doesn't help you get over it.) The suicide imagery is, unfortunately, also obvious in this context. Later, the dolls physically become his daughter as their existence reminds him of her passing, attacking him with memories and turmoil. The only part that doesn't quite work is the "sister" part with Gabby. Perhaps he was planning on having a son and he was putting himself in that boy's shoes? He wanted so badly to have a family that he was seeing it from differing angles? That part remains a mystery to me. We do know he blames himself for the death.

I loved this game. I'll be posing reviews of it where I can. As you can tell, I tend to be pretty verbose, so thanks for bearing with me.

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matt
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Re: Endings theories and discussion

Post by matt » Fri Oct 31, 2014 1:25 pm

Those are really good analyses, and I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the game! I think to some extent, fans are putting more thought into making sense of the endings than I did. I didn't plan on every piece of imagery working with the endings. Part of that was because the way the game was designed, we didn't have a focus on the narrative. Instead, we tried to create characters with symbolic value that would convey the emotions we wanted.

Still, we planned on the endings being very open ended, so I love to read everyone's theories! :)
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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