A penultimate segment loaded with poignant moments.
…but such moments of existential peace and beauty are rare and fleeting, and usually capped by the harsh and unfair juxtaposition of reality against the pleasant dream. Like a punctual alarm clock rousing the body from sleep and fighting against a groggy inertia to throw it into motion, though, something inside flips the switch. Focuses the sights. Readies the spirit.
Pulls the needle.
The pertinent question doesn’t concern the size of the dragon slumbering beneath the island, nor how it got there, nor how exactly it’ll desecrate all life it touches, should it come to that.
The question that nags and tugs at the corners of the mind the most is all about the heart within the chest of the one relinquishing needles from their designated insertions; light or dark is easy enough to qualify, but what can—should—be thought of one with a neutral heart? It doesn’t jell—this supposed lack of soul disposition, to put it—with the scenarios of the extreme being bandied about by participants on both sides; it would hardly make sense for one with that kind of composition to enter the fracas at all. But the case is what it is, and this emotionless individual—this adroit, malleable tool of those with a twisted agenda—is the enemy, even if the fact hits home.
The village’s gone to hell in the swiftest of handbaskets. The few who haven’t already expedited themselves bemoan their decisions, and the even fewer who’ve chosen to stay carry on with a pitiful, somber resilience. Flint buries his grief—a quantity to rival all others—by sending himself on expeditions into the mountains, searching doggedly for his long-absent child, before settling at his wife’s grave. Time after time. As a man of great respect and constitution, it’s difficult to see this behavior as anything other than part of a slow drudge into an inescapable depression. It’s enough to wonder: how far behind him could Lucas be?
Arriving at the horrific, clinical, abomination-making reconstruction machine that is the Chimera Lab further cements the profile of insanity being draped over the land, and incites a puzzling disgust for the legions of Pigmask forces—along with a select few other individuals—running and feeding it. The cognitive dissonance between walking through a room of monstrosities, displayed proudly as a series of whimsically pointless scientific victories, and chatting with any one of the soldiers in question—each swaddled in a wishy-washy, shrug-shouldered complicity—is staggering.
After the conclusion of a particularly laborious task—consisting of literally moving water from one hole in the ground to another—and yet another moment of saying goodbye to Salsa the monkey—graced in the end with his true source of happiness, which is more than can be said for many in this story thus far—the real work begins.
The task of going from Magypsy to Magypsy brings about some interesting scenarios. Chief among them is the preparation before and attitude going into death, which each of the whimsical creatures must face as their respective needles are claimed.
Each confronts the situation with admirable good cheer (knowing it’s “that time”) and aplomb, an outlook surprisingly common among many others. It’s really remarkable, even invigorating, how everyone in this world seems to take his or her fate—be it good, mediocre, or life-altering at either extreme—with a contemplative bemusement and an emotionally articulate response, often in the form of humor and good grace.
And then there’s the sober honesty of a momentary encounter with an ordinary man. An enemy, yes, but…a man.
After coursing through the belly of a volcano—and conversing with a hovering robot, interpreting the smooth-jazz rantings of a modified mad man—and an encouraging trip through the appropriately named Saturn Valley, the game rounds a strange, profound bend.
A bed of harmless-looking remote-island mushrooms paves the way for what can only be described as a chemically facilitated odyssey down into the deepest, darkest regresses of the psyche. It starts in a quasi-humourous fashion, with mailboxes containing a series of sardonic comments and concepts, but over the course of a few minutes segues into a stream of character encounters. These faux familiars are dark specters, channeling the negative thoughts and fears and unspoken emotions of aggression and worry and anguish of the main characters, tearing at the weaknesses and scars of the heart in some extremely disturbing, thought provoking ways…