There’s a cliche in the world of fanart (though derived from East Asian folklore, I see it more there than anywhere): the red thread of fate, an invisible tether that attaches two souls, thus ensuring a life together. I couldn’t help but imagine Ori and Rem's red thread, or rather, their lack of one, as they continue through the barriers. In the dark forest, running with their disconnection, and in the tub holding each other as nothing else will do it for them.
I’m worried I’ve become a bit of an ether-stan(e?). What first looked like a clean (as in, distinct but difficult to inure one’s self to) RPGmaker excursion has since become a now-personal study of medium mastery. Gone are the erratics of Hello Charlotte, yet still a wielding of chaos and rationed information remains the Tool of Choice, carving out reality in stories even the narrators struggle to fully believe.
If I had to guess etherane’s MO at this point, it seems to stem from concern, like a desire to break habits (particularly those of the audience I'm sure they know they have) and allow the space between ideas to organically fill and thrive. The moment in the silence ending where Ori reminds Rem to “stay hydrated” hit in a very distinct way for me as someone who used to (in my younger, more embarrassing days) champion the idea of reminding folks to drink water; like, it’s such a simple and innocent thing to become tyrannical about that it ends up acting as a more falsely-amicable “grammar ████”-like joke. That assumption that someone needs to be told an instinctual truth of their body for the sake of a false sense of general betterment... I dunno how intentional it was, but the fact that it manages to blend into the game for me has kept me occupied.
There’s still plenty for me to work through - Ori breaching Rem’s space with a ritual using /Rem’s/ blood from a separate corpse is a sequence so strong yet elusive that it’ll no doubt be good cud for the future. Unlike Hello Charlotte’s emotional whiplash practically forcing response (still waiting on that collapse, btw), this is much more of a mental trip into ruminative spaces, museum-like, with porcelain and Rothkoesque bands of color adorning the room. And that’s incredible to see in something so compact, honestly. I’ve always thought that games are, by their nature, slacken and inefficient vehicles for ideas (10+ hour games just to learn how to punch better). But here is something where nearly every gesture felt like a flashbang of truth, only for the very ideas to be made so fluid and monochromatic that the pursuit feels paradoxically both vital and hopeless.
(side note that I can’t fit anywhere else: pitch-perfect OST. Can’t think of a better accompaniment.)
Reviewed on Sep 29, 2021