Jump to content

Reflections on Desolation (SPOILER + TRIGGER WARNING)


Recommended Posts

So, I played up to the “bad end” and feel like it's a good segue to share my thoughts (I'm starting a new game to get the best/true ending). But before I start, I'm gonna have to issue massive spoiler warnings along with trigger warnings—for many things, honestly. I'm not gonna pull any punches here.


And to the mods: I will neither apologize nor backpedal on anything I say here. More than anything, this is a post I'm making to show appreciation to Caz and the Deso team for their work; in fact, I already mentioned this to Caz elsewhere, and I will break as many rules as necessary in order to keep my word.


Stop reading here if you have doubts.--this is your last chance.




I guess I'll start with a word of thanks to Caz and the Deso team. I mentioned this in the Discord, but I wanted to study Desolation—the gameplay, writing, plot and character development, and how all these things worked together in a synergistic manner. I always had a good feeling about Desolation, but wanted to wait until you guys rolled Ep.6 out to start playing. Since Deso used Reborn as a foundation, I figured I'd encounter a lot of stuff that'd speak to me personally—parallels to my own life journey, experience, and perspective.


...But to be totally honest? It was even better than I expected.


At first I was just liking Shiv and his perspective—as someone who's survived extreme trauma from the very start (literally born into it), and never really had anyone to protect or support me, I didn't have any choice but to roll with the punches, even when odds were along the lines of “if you can't learn on your own, you're dead.” And no, that's not an exaggeration...but more on that later.


In contrast to Scarlett, who was never really able to handle the cruelty of “reality,” Shiv's way was all about facing that cruel reality head-on, learning and growing stronger every time it knocked you flat on your ass—and then, once you were strong enough, to extend a helping hand to those who still lacked the strength and encourage them to look inward and realize their own power, however long and arduous that journey. The idea of living in a “dreamland,” where strife, conflict, and cruel reality didn't exist, didn't sit well with Shiv. Or Ava. Or me. Especially not one fabricated on the whims and views of a tiny few.


Such an existence might sound nice, sure, but the dark side of humanity would inevitably surface, tainting that fantasy world like a corrosive miasma. In time, people would yearn for an escape, and thus, this cycle of escape into a dream that would eventually be tainted continues. It's not so different from the world humans have created for themselves on this side of the fourth wall, really.


...Which leads me to the meat of Desolation (so far as I've experienced, anyway).


Darkrai's ambitions—inducing humanity into a dreamy slumber, where things are much better than the “real world,” for no other reason than to create a world he could take for his own, is remarkably similar to what some people in power over on this side of the fourth wall are striving for. In a sense, it's also reminiscent of various religious and spiritual teachings, about some malevolent entity corrupting and manipulating mortals to its own ends (i.e. Satan).  From where I stand, the vast majority of humans here in the “real world” are also trapped in a dream—one in which cracks are showing, countless and also quite profound. But the problem I've seen is that humans have sunk so deeply into the dreamworld they've created, they have lost any awareness or knowledge of what lies outside of it. For nearly everyone, this “reality—of going to school, getting an education, starting a career, and contributing to society—is the only world that really exists. People know nothing beyond the certainty of death and taxes--they cannot comprehend that there is a world outside the scope of the little glass dome called “civilization.” The scant few who do in fact see through this illusory world and attempt to bring that awareness to everyone else are branded pariahs, outlaws, and otherwise potentially dangerous. At best they are shunned and silenced; at worst they're lives are snuffed out to preserve the status quo and interests of the “Darkrais” of the world.


As someone who was thrown clear of that illusion from the start, and has seen what's going on thanks to sort of divine intervention from Nature, your work honestly does bring me hope. It's a work of fiction, sure, but humans connect create even fiction works from absolutely nothing—thus, Desolation's plot and progression, including the narrative about what's fantasy and what isn't, had to be informed by the experiences and perception of the people who developed it...and it's not the only creative work that shows people are really trying to think outside the bounds of civilization.


The “way the world works,” and the state of human existence that status quo both demands and dictates, are not sustainable. Science—which ironically arose from within this dreamland humans created for themselves—has already generated mountains of evidence of this, and some of the more spiritually-attuned types (like myself) have seen, heard, felt, and perceived the cracks and fractures in this fantasy as well, from many different sources.


These polar-opposite perspectives, in the end, are giving humanity the same message: this dream needs to end. Now. For the sake of human existence.


...Not so different from a lot of events in Desolation, really. As various individuals and groups, such as the Jinx Guild, probed their perceived reality and learned more about it, it became more apparent that the “real world” wasn't quite as real as they'd imagined. But just like in our “real world,” far too many are either blind to the cracks in their reality, or refuse to accept or acknowledge them. Some even fight to preserve their illusory world, unsustainable as it is.


With everyone so preoccupied with their own desires—and so willing to fight one another for what they believed was right and just—it was anything but difficult for Darkrai to manipulate everyone to his own ends.



But, “Darkrai” is something else I need to talk about as well, and this is where I need to reiterate those trigger warnings at the start. I'm not going to sugar-coat anything here, whatsoever.


Y'see...the dark, ugly side of humanity is something I experienced from the start—and unfortunately, it drowned out whatever positive events and memories I had in my past (because I do acknowledge that good things happened to me, too). It's not simply “thoughts” or “stuff in my head,” either—it's hard-wired into every fiber of my being, and I experience many acute, involuntary physical responses to various triggers. A lot of times, I actually have to keep myself from harming someone over some negative feedback, despite them not being an actual threat. A lifetime of severe trauma has honestly made it difficult to not send someone to the hospital or kill them outright in “self-defense.”  It sucks to admit, honestly. Especially because I don't want to hurt anyone—rather, I'd like to work to break this cycle of abuse, trauma, and human corruption. But, admit it I must, because it's the cold, hard truth—and I'm not interested in running from it, even if that means grappling with my own darkness for the rest of my life.


Frankly, it's a miracle I'm still alive. Enduring sexual and emotional abuse, domestic violence, psychiatric malpractice, a general dismissal and neglect by society, and the shunning (or in some cases outright exploitation) of authorities--pretty much everyone who had the power to step in and intervene when I was in danger, even as a very young child (I'm talking like 5-6 years old)--can't really deny my good fortune. Had things played out even a bit differently, I wouldn't even be alive to make this post now...or I'd have been easy fodder for grooming and manipulation into gang activity, terrorist cells, hardened criminal organizations, and so on. Believe me when I say it would've been real easy. The only reason I'm alive now and not some lowlife bringing others down—the only reason—is because nature stepped in and intervened (brutally, I might add) after humanity failed me from the start. In a sense, I died once already; whoever I was and would've been is long gone. That person was killed before they even had a chance to live, but I got a second chance.


I guess the trade-off is that I never learned how to connect with other humans, and due to my developmental circumstances, I'll never be able to. Things like therapy cannot “fix” something like this, and there's no prior state of wellness I can “recover” to—despite what many people seem to think.


As I said, I was thrown well outside this dreamy glass-dome world the rest of you—or most of you, anyway—call reality, and I've already learned the hard way that it's not something I can just casually step back into. Seeing the sate of your civilization, however, and how so many people are unable to think outside of it even as nature comes in and ravages it...I don't think I want to live inside your dream. I'd like to think massive earthquakes that kill thousands of people, for example are a crystal-clear message to humanity to quite fighting each other over petty nonsense, that you do not own this world, nor are “entitled” to any part of it, and that in order to both survive and prosper, humans need to learn to coexist and learn not just from each other but also the world around them, but...sadly, not from what I've seen.


And so, I come to the “Darkrai” in all of this. Rather than some malevolent outside force corruption and manipulating humans inside their cozy little glass dome, the “Darkrai” is something born directly of humans themselves. Humans have never been pure or perfect in any sense; a balance of light and darkness is an innate aspect of being human. What's more, this balance is different for each individual; every human being has a scale that's rigged differently, and each needs a different balance to achieve what's essentially an equilibrium.


Yet, somehow, humans have embraced an idea that “light is good and darkness is evil,” forgetting that just as one can be blinded by darkness, so too can one be blinded by light; that, in order to see clearly, each of us needs some unique balance of both, and a blindness by one or the other leads to a corruption of humanity.


The “misama” I've seen pervading the human dream and enveloping its dreamers, is something that humans birthed themselves—a result of losing their connection to the real world. Because, even if it's part of “human nature” as many say, humans are at their core imperfect beings, and as I said before, cannot create something from nothing—including a world of their own. Likewise, they are not omnipotent gods, and cannot live as an island separate from the rest of the world.  I mean...I know there are many people discontent with the current state of “society” and “civilization,” and that there's small handful of disgustingly rich humans who are talking about leaving Earth and colonizing Mars or some other planet—ditching a world they dislike (and frankly ruined in their own delusion) in favor of creating a new one just for themselves.


You might say they're in Darkrai's thrall—the “Darkrai” they themselves helped to create. It's really no different from the “Matrix” certain provocateurs online talk about escaping. This Matrix isn't actually some grand system devised by a few to control the many—it's closer to a runaway program, or perhaps a virus, that humans created (most likely with good intent) and lost control up. It's a product of the corruption originating in humans, and has now entrapped and in many cases enslaved them. “Darkrai,” at least on this side of the fourth wall, is a cage humanity has unwittingly and unknowingly built around themselves. While I'm glad people are talking about it in their own way, and (frantically) looking for solutions, it begs the question: if humans know nothing beyond this cage—what Darkrai has built for them—how will they handle the actual real world?


It's a terrible position to be in, from where I stand. After everything that happened to me—all the unspeakable trauma, and how I was affected—it's unsettling to think that I could have ended up in the broken dream of humanity, too. I've spent a lot of time and effort, and endured a lot of pain, to face my own aspect of “Darkrai” and prevent it from taking control—and I'll be the first to say I've screwed up many, many times.


Having said all this, the state of humanity in the Dreamscape—lost, scattered, broken, and totally directionless for the most part—is a pretty good portrayal of how “real” humans would be affected if they were suddenly pulled out of their caged-like dreamworld into the real world. Most would have no idea what to do, and many would die for it. It would be no different from forcibly removing a wild animal from its natural habitat and relocating it to some place it does not belong.


For most of humanity, their illusory dream world is in fact their natural habitat.


I haven't gotten far enough into Desolation to see how the protagonist and other “dreamers” thwart Darkrai, or how everyone handles the revelation that Ayrith is a world they dreamed up themselves. Since Deso's still in development, it's likely the story hasn't even been written as far as I'm reading ahead (so to speak). But given what I've learned from my own experience, and that Desolation is proof that there are in fact people within the “dream” called civilization who are actively attempting to think outside of it, I'll definitely look forward to what's to come.  So...thanks, Caz. You and the rest of the team have done some pretty amazing work...and honestly, I can't say enough how much I appreciate being able to just take what I encountered in Desolation, draw all these parallels to my own life experience and perspective, and then drop a cascade of text that—hopefully--others can read and chew on. After all, I'm speaking from a very different place from where most of you live, and even though I can never truly integrate into civilization or any existing society, I'd like to at least try to reach people and build bridges.


The truth is, humans need a bridge back to whence they came—what they call “the jungle.” Nature has much to teach humanity, but humans have gone so long without a connection to nature and all they can learn and grow from, they and their existence have suffered terribly—and despite what many try to say, humans can't simply “break out” into the natural world. Of course, simply talking like this isn't going to reach anyone nor help to build that bridge...but perhaps human creativity can. After all, art has the power to transcend all the barriers humans build, around themselves and each other, and can move them in ways words cannot.


Deso might've been a fun project for you, and I can definitely respect that; however, these kinds of projects may be the key to a better world, and the advancement of humans as a species. The change humanity so desperately needs—rather, what humans to do for themselves—isn't going to happen from people making tiring speeches or blog-length posts on forums, but will instead be sparked by creative works, and the all-important messages people convey through them.


It can only happen through things that shake humans and their existence to the core...things that can truly make them wake up from their dream.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...