The Longing: Face

I mentioned in my last post my attempt at breaking into the royal treasury, where you can see vast heaps of gold piled up like Scrooge McDuck’s money bin. You might wonder what use I’d have for the gold if I could get it, considering that there’s nothing to buy and no one to buy it from — aside from the sleeping king, the only living soul I’ve encountered in the caves is a spider, which the Shade immediately started calling “friend” because it’s the only available candidate for that position. But the colors available at my drawing table is still missing yellow, and gold seemed like a possible source of that.

Plus, even though there’s no other living creatures, I’ve found a crude face in the rock, just a few crevices roughly in the shape of eyes and a mouth, that accepts payment to answer questions. Mainly the payment takes the form of items easily collected in the caves, such as lumps of coal or clumps of moss or disappointments (a collectable you obtain from dead ends and other empty places), but there’s one question that he wants five gold coins for — a quantity that makes me think I won’t actually be getting into the money bin, but just making a hole big enough to stick my hand through.

The questions that the Shade asks the Face are ones important to his existence, like “What lies beyond this cave?” and “What will happen after the 400 days?” and “Is there a way to manipulate time?”. And the answers are more oracular than practical. I still want to get as many questions answered as I can, simply because they are Game Content. Some of what he says gives me pause, though, and makes me wonder about my goals.

This is a game with multiple endings. Apparently you can escape the caves instead of doing your duty to the king. I wasn’t really planning on doing that, despite my distaste for kings in general — I suppose I don’t really see him as a real king, considering the state of his kingdom. He’s more like an ex-king, and possibly a repentant one? There’s a lot I don’t know about the past, and he’s the only one likely to have answers. Moreover, the Shade seems to genuinely love his king. It’s a love that has a lot to do with his benighted state, sure, just like his “friendship” with the spider. But as things stand, there’s only one thing in the world he desires, and that’s to follow the king’s instructions. And I’m inclined not to interfere with that. (Anything else is fair game, as far as I’m concerned. The king never explicitly told me not to break into the treasury.)

But when you ask the face what happens after the 400 days, it says:

As long as there is time, there will always be longing. And once all longing has ended, the world will no longer need time… and those without longing will no longer need the world.

Now, recall that the king said he would “end all fear and longing” when he wakes up. Does this mean he’s going to end time? Destroy the world? Maybe waking him up isn’t such a good idea after all.

Taking a step back, it’s pretty clearly talking about the end of the game. When the 400 days are over, and the player is done playing, your longing for the ending is over, and the countdown at the top of the screen will end. Your longing for the ending satisfied, you no longer need the world represented in the game.

And anyway, if I’m honest, what ending I ultimately go for is likely to be a matter of what ending promises the most content. I want to wake up the king because I want to see what happens when I do. Maybe there will be something else that I want to see more.

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