The Way & Time [Theory from Years Later]

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The Way & Time [Theory from Years Later]

Postby Novahn » Wed Aug 24, 2011 7:33 pm

So, I'm having a friend play through The Way, and we've been discussing some of the hidden themes in the game. While I myself haven't played through the game in a good four or five years, I absolutely LOVED it. Still, my memory on the timeline and events of the game are pretty fuzzy. So I wanted to bring some of those theories to the forums. I understand, as much theorizing went down all those years ago, and likely since then, I'm probably reiterating weaker versions of past (possibly disproven) theories, but given that there doesn't seem to be an incredible amount of life flowing from these boards anymore, I'm going to give these a shot with anyone willing to read, anyway. Keep in mind the amount of time that has gone by since I played the game, and the fact that I was never truly a part of the theorizing that went on on these boards.

One of my favorite aspects of the game was that so much information could be derived from seemingly random sources (i.e. books or NPCs). In particular, there is a room that I BELIEVE was in the Opera House in Episode 6. In the room, there is a random guy that asks Rhue if people liked the show, and goes into a monologue about his perceptions of The Rolling Mists. So, this guy is unique in being the only NPC that (claims) to have seen them. He describes them, as I recall, as turning red like blood just before they crash down, and compares their effect to the erosion of shorelines. Interestingly, this guy also makes cryptic note of the windows in the room, explaining that he used to stare out them for long periods of time. At first, he enjoyed the feeling that they gave him. However, like a drug, they eventually brought him pain, and he recommends that Rhue not look out of them for too long.

So what was out the window? My theory, which leads into the theory that I posted this thread for, is that the windows represent the past. At first memories are a nice thing to hold onto and look back on. However, those too preoccupied with the past will eventually be brought pain by longing for them. Even as Rhue looks out the window, all he can see is a child smiling, or something like that. The happiness of childhood is certainly the epitome of 'memories'.

The relevance is that, the guy that looked to his past for so long is the same one that has seen The Rolling Mists.

I believe that it is already an established idea that Rhue is travelling backwards along The Way. In a world where nearly everyone is wandering in the same direction, Rhue is wandering in such a direction that stationary communities become larger and larger. The first settlement Rhue comes across is relatively small, while Estrana is quite large. If The Rolling Mists are to be taken literally, or at least considered to be a possibility by the residents of The Way themselves, then the larger, more structured communities must have been around longer, and therefore are closer to The Rolling Mists.

My theory is that The Way is a manifestation or metaphorical representation of time and memory. To travel backwards, as Rhue is doing, is to be living in the past. Needless to say, this sums up his desperate pursuit of Serena fairly well. Not coincidentally, this pursuit leads him to "The End of The Way", which if my own memory serves, is effectively the beginning of his past, and therefore as far as he can travel in his current state of mind.

Similarly, every re-occuring character (which, as they are re-occuring, would logically also be travelling backwards along The Way) seem to have ties to the past that prevent them from moving forward. Traziun's situation with his mother and ties to being his father's failed Perfect Blade. Even down to Kloe and Gaius. There are a few oddities here, like Strata, but it works out pretty well.

In fact, one of the only characters that does not seem to be living in the past is Lexus, who quite literally never travels backwards on The Way to begin with. In addition, the short time Rhue seems to want to begin a new life and live in the present with Lexus, he is not travelling backwards along The Way. As soon as Lexus dies, Rhue begins furiously pursuing his past once more. The destruction of Estrana could even be seen as the collapse of that happy memory of the time spent with her and the necessity to either look to the future, or be further wrapped in the past.

To tie the Opera House guy back in, his sighting of The Rolling Mists and his longing for the past is surely not a coincidence. Those that pursue the past for too long will indefinitely be crushed by their own unattainable desires. The Rolling Mists act both as the loss of old memories that one can no longer return to (erosion of a shoreline, like the slow erosion of memory), and the breaking point of the 'living in the past' mentality. Surely if you are living in a memory that you can barely remember yourself, you will be swallowed up by the metaphorical all-consuming crimson tide.

Again, it's been so many years since I played through this game, but The Way was the first and only game I ever fell in love with. I realize the years have probably blurred some of the details of The Way for me, but I'd appreciate anyone's input. Thanks for reading.
Last edited by Novahn on Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Way & Time [Theory from Years Later]

Postby Archaius » Thu Aug 25, 2011 7:04 am

Bravo, my friend.

When remembering The Way, my mind often goes back to the man in the Opera House from episode 6. But, I never drew the parallel between him and the NPC that mentions seeing the Rolling Mists. It seemed so odd to me that he would mention something so profound that would be unrelated to the story. What he said really struck a powerful chord with me, but I just thought it was some personal thought from the author. But given that the game is so well put together, I don't imagine an NPC would be saying something like that just for the sake of saying it. So, great job with noticing that tie-in and thanks for posting your thoughts here.

While I always noticed the very obvious theme of moving forward, I never related it to so many aspects of the story and it's main protagonist. So, I find it fitting that the leading man would be troubled by his past while making his way backwards through a world where people are supposed to be moving forward. I'm surprised that I never realized that myself. The story seems much more complete when I think of it that way. I find it even more insightful today with my added life-experience from over the years. It's almost like I have grown into the story instead of the opposite. Hah.

I should play it again. Oh, and would anyone happen to have the actual quote of the man from the Opera House (episode 6) by any chance?
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Re: The Way & Time [Theory from Years Later]

Postby Novahn » Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:47 am

Thanks for responding, it's awesome to get a response so soon. I was expecting to come back and see one in a month or two at best, haha. So, I went ahead and grabbed the dialogue between Rhue and the guy.

Hey, who are you?
MAN: I'm tired...
...
MAN: I saw the show. It could have been better.
Heheh. Well yes, it was kind of just thrown together.
MAN: I guess...
MAN: People liked the show, right?
I think so...
MAN: Do you think they'll remember it?
I don't know. Everybody is so busy these days.
MAN: Well, even if every single wanderer liked it, what would it matter?
MAN: What's the use of being liked?
Are you kidding? Plenty... Besides, it's better than being disliked.
MAN: Disliked...
MAN: I saw the mists.
You mean...
MAN: Right before they crash down they get real red like blood.
MAN: They reach for the sky, but they can't escape.
MAN: Have you seen the ocean?
Yea, I think so.
MAN: Every river flows into the ocean. They bring sediment from far away lands and the riptides carry it out to sea.
MAN: Everyday the ocean's waves beat against the shore, eroding the land. And everyday the rivers carry off more sediment.
MAN: The rivers widen and the shorelines diminish. Maybe everything will one day be engulfed by the waters...
MAN: Maybe that is the will of the Purpose.
...
What are these... um... "windows"?
MAN: It's pretty, huh?
In a way.
MAN: I don't look out any of them anymore.
MAN: I used to look and what I saw made me very happy.
MAN: But the longer I looked the more my happiness faded.
MAN: As time went on, looking made me sadder and sadder.
MAN: I began to wish more and more that I had never looked at all.
MAN: So one day I turned away.
MAN: My stomach clenched up and my mouth went dry. All of the water went to my eyes.
MAN: I let the tears fall onto the ground. It was like one of those rivers, slowly carrying away bits and pieces of me.
MAN: Sometimes, when my eyes were full, I saw visions...
MAN: I felt very sick for a long time.
Sounds like some sort of drug.
MAN: I wish it were that simple.
MAN: If you look out each window long enough, you might see what I eventually saw, but if I were you I wouldn't do it.
MAN: It's a great burden once you know.


Looking out the window:
Wait a second... I do see something...
Just some kid... smiling?
What a waste of time that was.


Reading it outside the atmosphere of The Way loses a certain something, but there is definitely a certain depth to the above quote. The window room, as out of place as it seemingly was, was always one of my favorite locations in The Way. Something about the dialogue they share sends shivers down my spine. It's found its way back into my mind now and then over the years. It's definitely not stated outright, and it may even be somewhat of a stretch, but Lun was never one to give us straight answers, and I love the game all the more for it.
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Re: The Way & Time [Theory from Years Later]

Postby Archaius » Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:48 am

Thanks!

I was going to copy, paste and save the quote and then go on my merry way. But, I can't help but linger and dissect this now that I'm seeing it again years later. It's so interesting. The MOST interesting (and slightly unsettling) thing about it is how I could never directly quote any of it, yet I remembered it so accurately in principal.

Because of that, I can't help but wonder if taking this story and it's characters with me in the back of my mind throughout the years hasn't had an actual affect on me personally.

Anyhow.. enough of that tangent.

Novahn wrote:Hey, who are you?
MAN: I'm tired...
...
MAN: I saw the show. It could have been better.
Heheh. Well yes, it was kind of just thrown together.
MAN: I guess...
MAN: People liked the show, right?
I think so...
MAN: Do you think they'll remember it?
I don't know. Everybody is so busy these days.
MAN: Well, even if every single wanderer liked it, what would it matter?
MAN: What's the use of being liked?
Are you kidding? Plenty... Besides, it's better than being disliked.
MAN: Disliked...


There seems to be some sort of emphasis on being disliked. Rhue makes a statement that strikes me as sort of casual. It's something most people would say without really thinking. In any case, it sends this guy spiraling into the following...

MAN: I saw the mists.
You mean...
MAN: Right before they crash down they get real red like blood.
MAN: They reach for the sky, but they can't escape.
MAN: Have you seen the ocean?
Yea, I think so.
MAN: Every river flows into the ocean. They bring sediment from far away lands and the riptides carry it out to sea.
MAN: Everyday the ocean's waves beat against the shore, eroding the land. And everyday the rivers carry off more sediment.
MAN: The rivers widen and the shorelines diminish. Maybe everything will one day be engulfed by the waters...
MAN: Maybe that is the will of the Purpose.


...So, mentioning being liked/disliked and whether or not people would remember the show apparently led to this man remembering (and then abruptly mentioning) an encounter he had with the mists. This totally falls in line with the theory of The Way being a metaphor of time & memory.

As for the man in the opera house and what he says...

MAN: I felt very sick for a long time.
Sounds like some sort of drug.
MAN: I wish it were that simple.
MAN: If you look out each window long enough, you might see what I eventually saw, but if I were you I wouldn't do it.
MAN: It's a great burden once you know.


The last line grabs me. What is "it"? (not a reference to the song Faith no More by Epic :P ) I would assume that it's a reference to some sort of memory or past trauma. In this instance, probably a memory of either Rhue's, the Man's or the Sword. Or all 3 of them. But metaphorically, it could be a reference to memories we are better off leaving behind or that could become twisted, or twist us over time.

It definitely is a reference to a burdensome thing. The burden could be a result of discovering some secret due to having peered too deeply into something better left alone. A thing that initially caused joy or a sense of satisfaction. If it isn't a reference to the feeling of Nostalgia, then what else could it be? A supernatural encounter, perhaps?

As for the child smiling, that reinforces the theory of it being memory or nostalgia related. But Rhue quickly brushes it off as a waste of time, so that implies that perhaps the memory or image of the child wasn't his own. Whose was it? Or was it just him realizing the uselessness of dwelling needlessly on the past? In any case, I would assume that based on the aforementioned warning- whether it's Rhue's memory or not; dwelling on it or peering to deeply can harm anyone.


I don't think that any of these questions really need answers, but it's really interesting to think about. Especially when taking an introspective approach to them.

Also, I found this via the [Awards+] link from the main Crestfallen Studios page; http://www.playmagazine.com/index.php?f ... entid=1708
I thought I remembered reading that a year back or so. Pretty good stuff. It was considerate of Lun to shed some light on a few things. Especially considering that he really didn't have to do it.
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Re: The Way & Time [Theory from Years Later]

Postby Sage Of The Wise » Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:03 pm

While the idea of Rhue traveling backwards along the way has a lot of nice metaphorical parallels, I don't agree with it. A few times in the beginning people note that Rhue is making quite a pace for himself and might catch up with the forerunners. Certainly not a statement that would be made if he was going the opposite direction. Though you are right to notice that as Rhue goes on the settlements get bigger and more more permanent, when that would be the opposite you'd expect from what we know about the way. I've spent a while wondering about the physical layout of The Way and peoples beliefs about moving forward. Here's what I've got.
The idea that you need to keep wandering forward or you'll be swallowed up by the mists is something everyone knows about but isn't very widely practiced (think like how religion is sometimes seen these days). If there really is are rolling mists, than the location this game takes place in is far away from it on either end, I mean like hundreds of years off. There are some people traveling ever forward, but for the most part everyone just treats the world as we treat our own, with various towns and cities, people living their whole lives in one spot, because they have no reason not to, the only real danger is nothing but a myth to them. I have no idea why the End of the Way is called so when its only a few days away from Estrana, which logically wouldn't be anywhere near the actual end.

Hope that made sense, I feel like I'm not expressing my ideas well right now.
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Re: The Way & Time [Theory from Years Later]

Postby Archaius » Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:33 am

Sage Of The Wise wrote:While the idea of Rhue traveling backwards along the way has a lot of nice metaphorical parallels, I don't agree with it. A few times in the beginning people note that Rhue is making quite a pace for himself and might catch up with the forerunners. Certainly not a statement that would be made if he was going the opposite direction. Though you are right to notice that as Rhue goes on the settlements get bigger and more more permanent, when that would be the opposite you'd expect from what we know about the way. I've spent a while wondering about the physical layout of The Way and peoples beliefs about moving forward. Here's what I've got.
The idea that you need to keep wandering forward or you'll be swallowed up by the mists is something everyone knows about but isn't very widely practiced (think like how religion is sometimes seen these days). If there really is are rolling mists, than the location this game takes place in is far away from it on either end, I mean like hundreds of years off. There are some people traveling ever forward, but for the most part everyone just treats the world as we treat our own, with various towns and cities, people living their whole lives in one spot, because they have no reason not to, the only real danger is nothing but a myth to them. I have no idea why the End of the Way is called so when its only a few days away from Estrana, which logically wouldn't be anywhere near the actual end.

Hope that made sense, I feel like I'm not expressing my ideas well right now.


Actually, you're right. Makes perfect sense. Part of the problem, here, is that I haven't played The Way in so long! I should hold off on being so wordy about the story until I actually play it again :lol:
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Re: The Way & Time [Theory from Years Later]

Postby X-Calibar » Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:21 pm

It's an interesting theory but, I ... I don't really agree.
I NEED to replay it again though and pay close attention to what everyone has to say... When you take the "plunge" into a new world like The Way, you are bound to miss details when you spend half the time speculating what will happen next...

(
During my first playthrough, I thought the Phantom ghost and Opera house guy (and Rhue's responses) were kind of out of character, and I didn't really pay them much attention. It felt like I was getting into material that wasn't really related to The Way, or like reality was unfolding into something else... (I guess it WAS Dream Estrana!)

At this point I saw new Estrana as maybe the Upper Way or something like an in-between for lost souls.
I figured I would be doing a lot of back and forth between reality and the "dream world" in chapter 6 when I started it... boy I was wrong!
)
I have no idea why the End of the Way is called so when its only a few days away from Estrana, which logically wouldn't be anywhere near the actual end.


Oh, and a quick wonder on the world's shape... Was Estrana so close to the End of the Way (if it exists?)
Chapter 5 happened so fast, but they seem to cover vastly different regions... At one point they were walking through valleys... the next they were crossing the ocean or something (weren't they? I mean the scene with Strata and Lyrra on that boat thing?)... then they were crossing snowy mountains and forests... Finally, they pass through some cavern/forest or something into the area they call "The End of the Way"...
It happened fast in-game, but that seems like it *could* be an extremely large distance from Estrana... right?
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Re: The Way & Time [Theory from Years Later]

Postby Kcrazy » Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:58 am

I always felt the guy was a meta character in a way. The first section of the conversation seems to be using the play as an parallel to the actual game, asking if people liked it or will it be remembered, even going as far as questing what the point....thought I'm sure Lun had while writing and making the game.

As for the rest of the conversation, its pretty cryptic, mainly the "windows". I don''t know what to think of them...honestly as far as the way I've approached looking for answers in the way, I never paid him much attention.
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Re: The Way & Time [Theory from Years Later]

Postby Archaius » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:10 am

Kcrazy wrote:I always felt the guy was a meta character in a way. The first section of the conversation seems to be using the play as an parallel to the actual game, asking if people liked it or will it be remembered...


I felt that way, too. So, it begs the question that if the character does represent the author's thoughts in some way- is it just coincidental that he is also the only one who gives a detailed description of the Mists? That is what makes the metaphorical interpretation of The Way so interesting when based off of this characters' ranting. It seems more potent then other quotes throughout the game, seeing as how they are usually related to or based off of the story in some way.
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Re: The Way & Time [Theory from Years Later]

Postby Kcrazy » Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:27 pm

Yeah I dunno. His speech does sound much heavier then a lot of the other characters, and it's probably influenced by his introspective dialogue. As far the mist and his importance I really don't have much to add. It's hard to make any real guesses when we only have the one conversation to pull from. I'm more intrigued by the last part of the conversation relating to the windows and what it could possibly represent. I haven't played the game in along time so I can't remember the conversation to well, but is windows written as "windows" with the quotes? If so, why?
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