Lost Souls: Massive Spoiler Time

I’ve hit a point in the game that all but outright tells me that everything I’ve seen so far is a hallucination.

It happens when, for the first time in the entire series, there’s a puzzle with a time limit. The puzzle is a simple matter of repairing a television by rotating some tiles and trying to match colors, but while you do it, you’re menaced by a lurking monster. It’s a sort of distorted human figure that seems to be made mostly of arms, with no head — I didn’t get a very good look at it, though, because its appearance provided extra impetus to pay attention to the tiles instead. This freak of nature materializes briefly, then vanishes, then appears again a little closer, and so forth, until either you back out of the puzzle (which causes it to revert to its starting state), or it gets so close that you wake up in terror. And the time limit is short enough to basically guarantee that the latter will happen at least once before you solve it.

The waking up doesn’t last long, and you just wind up back outside the room with the monster afterwards. You first get a confused jumble of images flashing by — the same images that I had seen when I tried to touch the gross thing in the bathroom sink. They showed two items that are in your inventory from the beginning, a bottle of pills and a bottle of vodka. I hadn’t really processed what they were trying to tell me at the time, but now, it’s all followed by opening your eyes to the hospital operating table lights above you and hearing alarmed doctor-like shouts of “We’re losing him!” and such. And now it seems clear that the player character, the still-nameless Inspector, attempted suicide shortly before the start of the game.

It all seems very Silent Hill 2 all of the sudden — particularly considering that this revelation is preceded by finding a television in a hotel room. I need to be interpreting what I see as symbols of the Inspector’s mental state rather than taking them at face value. And yet I still need to think in terms of literal, physical puzzles: unlocking doors, repairing machines, etc. It seems to me that this emphasis on the practical is part of what makes the suppressed-knowledge theme work as well as it does. I spend most of my time methodically searching rooms for hotspots and loose items, my mind far from the backstory that the Inspector is trying to not think about. The pills and vodka are right there in front of me every time I open my inventory, but as long as I’m thinking in terms of how I can use things, I won’t be wondering why they’re there.

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