Lost Souls: Wrapping Up

OK, last post about Dark Fall: Lost Souls. Time to kill this thing and move onto something else. I finished the game about a week ago, but I’ve been taking about a week to write each post lately. This isn’t really the game’s fault — it’s a perfectly respectable representative of its genre, even if it is a different genre than the first two Dark Fall games.

So let’s talk about the ending, or, what amounts to the same thing, let’s talk about Amy. This gets a little confusing, because it’s not entirely clear where the boundaries are between Amy, the Inspector’s imaginings about Amy, and the Dark Fall.

The backstory presented at the beginning of the game is this: Amy, aged 11, disappeared. The Inspector was for some reason convinced that she was kidnapped by a local vagrant known as “Mr. Bones”, who he arrested. Apparently the Inspector was caught faking evidence against him, which ended both the Inspector’s career and any hope of finding out what really happened to Amy. Some time later, the Inspector seems to have attempted suicide.

Now, Amy appears several times throughout the game, in ghostly form, no older than when she vanished, demanding that the Inspector play childish games with her, then vanishing. Documents from her school days and from the Inspector’s investigation show her as having creepy powers, and befriending dark “angels”. The other ghosts in the hotel fear her, speak of her as the reason they’re trapped in the hotel. This can’t be taken completely literally, because they died decades before Amy was born. The words “Dark Fall” are spoken in reference to her.

Now, there are two ways of taking this. One is that the Dark Fall, which has existed since ancient times, has simply taken Amy’s form, or possessed her. (Can that happen? Can you possess a ghost?) The other is that this is all simply reflective of the Inspector’s mental state. The case of Amy is what brought him personally to his sorry state, so his mind turns her into a being of malevolence and power.

I mentioned how the ritual for freeing a ghost involves placing three significant objects. The Inspector performs something of the sort for either Amy, himself, or Mr. Bones, piecing together three dolls found throughout the game that Amy considers to be her “sisters” and placing them into mock graves that have been prepared for them in a room full of oversized scissors. On the way there, he has a breakdown in which he confesses/realizes that he didn’t just falsify evidence when he couldn’t make a case against Mr. Bones, he actually stabbed him to death. It’s not said what the murder weapon was, but my money’s on scissors.

Unlike the mostly free-roaming first two Dark Fall games, there’s a definite linear progression to Lost Souls, as you gain access to the floors of the hotel one at a time. Early on, you receive a key for room 3F, the last room on the topmost floor. Every ghost has its room, and this one is yours. Inside, with dream logic, it turns out to be the police interrogation room where the Inspector confronted Mr. Bones. Amy shows up, and you get a choice: “I need to go home”, she says, “but someone must stay. You are old and grey, you should stay.” If you refuse, you have one last puzzle to solve, and then wake up in the hospital; if you accept, she disappears, laughing, as you are consumed by darkness.

But why would you accept? In both interpretations of what Amy is, it seems like a bad idea. If she’s a demon, the last thing you want to do is set her free. If she’s just a figment of your unprocessed guilt, leaving her behind is clearly the first step toward healing. So the choice reminds me a bit of the Little Sisters in Bioshock in its obviousness, except that there the obvious choice was to save the little girl, and here it’s just the opposite.

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