-- see post 10 below
- Philipp sends you an email asking for your help
- Player embodies Philip in a flashback journey seeking his father Howard trough the mine
- Philip benefits the help of Red, a survivor infected by the Tuurngait virus but having made his way through the mine and sealed himself off at a lower level
- Having found Red’s hangout, Philip is begged to put an end to Red’s suffering and is forced to obey in order to get out the mine; Philip obviously feels grief and remorse for his deed
- The game ends with Philip knocked to unconsciousness
- Philip warns the Player against « making the same mistake he did »
- Player still embodies Philipp in a flashback journey through the Shelter, seeking his father Howard
- Upon infection by the Tuungait virus Philipp develops a split personality of a strange kind: Clarence, the self-christened mental entity growing in Philipp’s mind, has an asymetrical access both to Philip’s knowledge (he sometimes claims to have deleted concepts or practical cognitive technique, like the Mendeleiev’s periodical table of elements, or like maths) and perceptual contents (which will make Clarence able to manipulate Philipp’s vision in the famous encounter with Anabel Swanson, a lone Archaic survivor searching for a antidote to the Tuungait)
- Having found out a way of expelling Clarence into a body of its own, Philip gets help from creatures under control by the Tuurngait central psychic intelligence, which destroy Clarence’s incarnation and presumably Clarence itself
- The game ends with Philipp writing an email to the Player (the very email the Player got at the beginning of both Overture and Black Plague), but instead of asking him to keep the Shelter (and presumably the tomb from which the Tuurngait resides) hidden from human presence as promised to the Tuurgait, Philip laconically gives the coordinates of the Shelter and begs the Player to « kill them all »
Here the discussion starts. As I am mainly concerned with Requiem, let me directly make a few preliminary points.
a. Although the Player shares Philip’s memories (many times one recognizes places or people, like Red, whose killing one once again regrets), it’s no longer obvious that the Player can be identified with Philip through a flashback. At the beginning of Requiem Philip is once more knocked down (if not killed for good) by a Tuungait controlled creature (think of the typical groaning you hear). Indeed Philip has admittedly lied to the Tuungait intelligence (« But I am no monkey…The Tuungait was right… I am entirely unlike it: I had more in common with Clarence…I promised I would send this email to you. I promised I would ask that you keep all humans from this place - for the sake of the Tuungait, and for the human race. I lied. ») and presumably the Tuungait notices that and has a motive for revenge. At any rate, one’s construal of Requiem heavily rests on one’s way of taking over this indeterminacy.
b. Another indeterminacy concerns the world constituting Requiem. Although some levels resemble very minutely what could be the machinery underlying the Shelter, that is, the place you are supposed to be investigating as the addressee of Philip’s email) most are rather idiosyncratically (that’s is, unrealistically) designed, the peak being for me when you have to climb ladders from a platform to another while at the same time minding the burning barrels rolling down out of nowhere. Moreover, any level I can think of is provided with the same circle marked pressure pads as in the « Tuungait dimension » (Black Plague). And finally it happens at some places (I can remember of the last level, where you can fall from the shuttle hanging across the excavation to the last room) that instead of dying you are just « teleported » at the last point (just as the blue electronically sphere touching a blue laser). With the portals waiting at each level end, such facts are not easily reconciled with the idea that you are just exploring a place of the same kind you were previously exploring. This suggests that in Requiem you could be in a non-mental independent world, that is, a kind of dream.
c. Concerning the endings, few players have noticed that the boat’s cabin at the (one) end of Requiem is not the same as the cabin at the beginning of Overture (the picture above the bedside table is not a drawing of fishes but a photograph of the cabin, as in Philip psychic struggle with Clarence in Black Plague where Philip and Clarence consciousnesses intermittently overlap, resulting a mingled world party shaped by Philipp, party by Clarence). This means the cabin could be virtual. Furthermore, Red (or Red-memory) paradoxically remarks about the furnace he’s stuck into, « But the chamber, like the banquet, is of the mind, and the only way out of it is within it… Would you return from where you’re from? For Red, the answer is no… Better to have a story and end it, than never realize it has begun. » So the Red or Red-memory suggests that either the Player will kind of reset the whole adventure, that is, forget about everything, or kind get psychical elevation. But given what I’ve just said, showing mercy to Red or Red-memory at the end of Requiem can’t be a proper reset in the sense of forgetting everything; it must be some further place in someone’s mind. So apparently the deal is no fair deal. You can live in a dream (virtual boat), or you can die in reality, for if you choose the furnace, you burn with Red and definitely die, but you can't have it both ways. Furthermore, if you have collected the nine artifacts, you gets another message from Philip claiming to have got rid of society’s bounds and chosen no to follow his father’s path. He even proclaims that he was able to lead astray not only the Player, but many others. So how to account for this fact?
The narrative puzzle
Keeping this in mind and focusing on the possibilities as far as Philipp and The Player are concerned in Requiem, let’s formulate the possibilities underpinning our puzzle the most general way:
1. Philip is dead since the beginning of Requiem
2. Philip is not dead at the beginning of Requiem, but only unconscious
i . The Player can be identified with Philip throughout Requiem
ii. The Player cannot be identified with Philip throughout Requiem
On one hand 1 et 2 are incompatible, and so are i and ii. On the other hand, is 1 or 2 incompatible with i or ii respectively? What are the (fictionally) trues ones? If you dare know, take a deep breath and let’s go.
Trying out hypotheses
1-i. If Philip’s dead, then the Player cannot be identified with Philip unless Requiem is in fact a flashback, like the previous episodes, or some kind of Otherworld beyond (fictional) reality where the Player is in fact Philip’s soul, or akin to some etherical counterpart of it. But if it’s a flashback, it means that the story would unfold before the beginning of Requiem, in the prologue of which Philip is knocked down. But it cannot unfold before the end of Overture or Black Plague since it would absurdly entail that Philip has memory of the future (think of Red being recognized from Overture and the several memories he has about Clarence from Black Plague). Moreover, it cannot unfold between Black Plague and the beginning of Requiem, because if it does, then the fact you die in the previous episodes would make it impossible that you wrote any email (recall that under the conjunction of hypotheses we are assessing, you are supposed to be Philip). So I take the flashback hypothesis to be ruled out. Could Requiem be some kind of Otherworld, where the Philip-Player has to find a way to redemption? Well, that would square nicely with the title but since Requiem can end with the death of the Philip-Player (if you kill the otherworldly-Red) this hypothesis would entail that you can die twice, the first time because of the creature at the beginning of Requiem and the second one because of the Tuungait punishing your mercilessness despite your bold efforts throughout the Otherworld. If I am correct, that would mean an etherical counterpart of someone’s soul could « die ». Quite odd, even though not logically impossible. And that would leave the last email (bonus epilogue for nine artifacts) unexplainable (see point 2-i for two bad objections).
1-ii. Suppose Philip is dead since the beginning of Requiem (just after having sent the Overture, Penumbra and Requiem email) and suppose the Player cannot be identified with neither Philip, nor a etherical counterpart of his soul. Then since the Player has access to Philip’s memories of the previous game throughout Requiem it entails that, whoever the Player is supposed to be, Philip’s memories have become part of an independent entity. But the only type of creature I can think of in this game is some Tuungait minion have been « uploaded » with Philip memories. But that seems at odds with some obvious fact, for instance the fact that you receive the bonus email whose author seems to be Philip (hence the « my » father). But then the author can’t be Philip. But since the author also shares some Philip’s memories, I’d say both are Tuungait minions, one pretending to be Philip, the other believing to follow Philip’s footsteps. But it turns full circle for the Tuungait then.
So far, the two first hypotheses seem quite unlikely, if not excluded. Then the question is Since Philip is alive, is he the Player or not at the end? To put some constraint on the possible answers, let’s consider the conjunction of 2 with i and ii.
2-i. Suppose Philip is not dead and the Player is Philip. To accept both assumptions would make hard to explain the bonus email you read after having died in the furnace. Whoever has written this email knows what Philip knows. It can be the Tuungait intelligence pretending to be Philip (hence the reference to Howard, « my » father) because it maybe has assimilated Philip’s memory thanks to Clarence or else. Or maybe the email was written by Philip. But that means to himself. How could one’s read one’s email after death? It couldn’t to be replied that you went back in time, since it is not only physically but, conversely to teleportation, logically impossible (indeed it creates an unwelcome paradox: if person A at time 1 travels back to time 0 and dies between t0 and t1, then A could not travel back from t1 after all). The problem grows if we step back, taking a look to the whole story. If Philip is not dead at this point and you are he, that means he didn’t die before unless he was resurrected. But notice first that not even the Tuungait seems to be able to resurrect anybody in the game as long as the game obviously takes places in a obviously real place (see point b above for the sense of « real » and point c thereafter), and secondly that it would not account for the fact that Philip you were supposed to be in Black Plague’s flashback is lying in front of the computer.
2-ii. The only remainder is Philip not being dead and the Player not being Philip. But recall the Player has (some) Philip memories. The only fictionally consistent way I can think of the situation is the Tuungait uploading the memories fetched by Clarence (or « slipped » during the test at the end of Black Plague). But then the Player is an agent of the Tuungait, just as in 1-ii, since having another’s memory is part of being infected. But then how would Philip send an Tuungait agent an email if Philip proclaims he’s got rid of the Tuungait influence?
So on the whole I must conclude that no possibly solution is especially attractive. Of course the conundrum will vanish if you make small ad hoc adjustments, claiming for instance that the bonus email is no proper part of the story, or that Philip has been resurrected. What would be interesting in that case would be to find a way out with minimal corrections and consistency in the respect of logic and fictional assumptions. The more elegant way is left for discussion. But even if the narrative puzzle has no non-illogical or fictionally consistent solution, it doesn’t impinge on the overall interest of the game; on the contrary the very fact it makes you think of it is immensely valuable. After all, like the bonus email itself says at the end, « No matter what you may think, it’s always better to think ».