The Longing: The Power of Waiting

I’ve gotten a lot done since my last post, but the main thing is: by means of a long, slow journey through darkness in which the Shade faced his own shadow-self, I managed to get within a few feet of escape, to the original entrance to the caves. I can see green grass on the screen, although the Shade cannot. The way is irrevocably blocked now, probably by people who had the good sense to see that the king underground was bad news, and that if they couldn’t kill him, sealing him in was the best option.

Ah, how my feelings towards the king have changed! To think I actually intended to go through with his orders, considered the “wait for 400 days” part to be the game’s central challenge rather than an imposition, a pointless limitation on the Shade’s personal growth. His reverence for his king and creator now seems to me more like Stockholm syndrome. The king gave him life, but the life he gave him was a miserable one; it has become pleasant for him only through the Shade’s own efforts (or mine), frequently against what he believes to be the king’s wishes. At the very least, this makes the king extraordinarily inconsiderate, treating a conscious being as nothing more than an alarm clock and not taking his personhood into account at all.

That darkness, now. The caves are generally dim, but get some light from the Shade’s huge luminous eyes and the occasional glowing mushroom. But in the long dark passage, the symbolic abyss, these are the only things that are visible at all. It’s not just dark, it’s Dark; not unlit, but un-light. To pass through, you must become darkness yourself — I had heard as much from the face in the stone. And this requires something that I had been strangely reluctant to try, given how well it fits the game’s themes: standing and doing nothing, without moving and without logging off, for about ten minutes. (I remember a similar puzzle in Bob Bates’ Timequest, but that had the alternate solution that you could explicitly type “meditate”.) Even though the face had told me to “delve deep, deep into your own mind in conscious loneliness”, the game had successfully distracted me from the possibility of inaction by giving me so many things to do, and by making it take so long to do them. There’s a lesson in that, I suppose.

I’ve come to regard the 400 day wait as an enemy to be defeated, whether by rebellion or by simply making the time pass faster. But the dark passage tells us that waiting itself is not the enemy. Waiting is power. The question is who wields that power. When you wait for the king to awaken, that’s someone with power over you exercising that power by making you wait. When you deliberately stand and wait for your own purposes, the power is yours.

2 Comments so far

  1. Doug Orleans on 19 Jan 2021

    This game sounds so weird that I almost want it to be fake and these progress reports are a fiction writing project, like Sam Ashwell’s imaginary game jam.

  2. matt w on 22 Jan 2021

    Tiny correction, Doug–Sam Ashwell started writing imaginary reviews on his blog, but the jam was run by Jason Dyer. His posts about it (with links to the reviews and the games) can be found here.

    (I did some reviews and a game. Of sorts.)

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