The Longing: Anticipation

The Shade’s birthday is fast approaching. That is, it’s six in-game days away as I write this, but time is advancing at a a solid 16 seconds per second, or 17 while the Shade is asleep, so it should hit around dinner time. I have the game running in a second monitor so I can watch him sleep while I work. Sometimes the view shifts to show his dreams, the same scenes repeating, suggesting how to escape.

It’s a peculiar thing. All through the game, I’ve been waiting for things to happen, for obstacles to remove themselves or for the effects of my actions to take hold. This is the first event that’s been a possible time limit: something is going to happen on the 365-day mark, and if I’m not around to take advantage of it, for all I know, maybe it’ll go away. I understand there’s a way to make time run backwards, so missing it isn’t necessarily final. For that matter, if you think you’re going to miss an event, due to being unable to play the game when it occurs, you can always park the shade in the Halls of Eternity, where time is suspended. Nonetheless, I somehow feel like this is a critical moment that I don’t dare to miss. I suppose it’s a dry run for the 400 day mark.

In the meantime, I’ve solved at least part of the stone face’s secret: I’ve found the “hidden domain”, and indeed there were books there to abscond with. It turns out to be a tower — the Shade has now been above ground, although he doesn’t know it, as the tower has no doors or windows or passages out other than through the cellar. The journal informs me that I’ve now explored every part of the cave, even though I haven’t figured out how to make the mysterious door reappear, or seen what’s on the other side. I may wind up taking a hint for that, but it isn’t all that urgent while I still don’t have the key.

The game goes to some lengths to make the cave system appear large, but it’s really not, compared to other games. It’s small to fit comfortably in one’s head, once you’ve wandered enough to make it familiar. But it’s sparse. It contrives to give a sense of scale just by having large distances between things of interest, making you plan your excursions.

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