Author Topic: The Little Things in Finding Paradise  (Read 2153 times)

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Leave Me Alone

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The Little Things in Finding Paradise
« on: December 16, 2017, 02:08:18 AM »


I've never thought that To the Moon's focus was the sappy love story, or the heartwrench. It was always its exploration of the human condition that appealed to me the most. It was the differences between, to use terms from The Matrix, the blue pill mentality and the red pill mentality. To live a happy lie, or to suffer the bitter truth. The conflict between truth of knowledge and happiness. It invites the player to examine which pursuit is more important to them, as Johnny gives up one in order to achieve the other. Did Johnny do the right thing? What would you have done? It examines the human tendency to ask what-ifs with their past decisions, and suggests that maybe, just maybe, the downs are just as important as the ups in making life special. And, extrapolating even more, perhaps there is a way to live so that we don't ever end up having to make Johnny's choice. There isn't a Sigmund Corp in our world.


I like to examine all narratives like they're Shakespeare. My favourite games/stories tend to be the ones where I can identify clever writing, hidden meaning, symbolism, and all that manner of fluff. It's quite common that the creator/author also embeds some kind of personal message in their work, and I love deciphering it. You may find me fanboying about Quintessence, To the Moon, Journey, or even Doki Doki Literature Club simply because I managed to dig up a massive treasure trove in their untold stories. Now I try to find Finding Paradise's. What I'm looking at here doesn't search for any message directly, but maybe would point things in the right direction.

The objective of this post is to examine the smaller objects in Finding Paradise. I am referring to things that are equivalent to The Emperor's New Clothes or the reason why Johnny feels the need to stand out. Due to Colin's nature as an unreliable narrator, I found it a bit more difficult this time around to make sense of things. There are many guesses that cannot be substantiated. I'll be impressed if someone can propose and support an objective version of events. I invite the community to challenge me or propose something I hadn't thought of. This is as much for myself as it is anything else. I am on my second playthrough and I'll keep updating this post as my understanding improves.

Somewhat of a rant, or what I don't want to see. Skip this if you're already having a bad day:

Spoiler: show
I don't post much on this forum. It is mainly because the community annoys me. The forum is filled with Reives yes-men. I'm left with the impression that Reives is treated like some infallible God, and to criticise his work is heresy. A segment of the regulars here have become a cult, and Reives is their object of worship.

This relationship is unhealthy, for both Reives and his followers. Such idolatry is the very same tribal mentality that has people defending corporations that shamelessly exploit their customers. I can only pray that the endless praise doesn't get to Reives' head, and that he still values critical feedback as much as he did during his RMRK days. I admire Reives as much as any of you, but let's recognise what is mutually beneficial. Speaking for myself, I find that negative feedback is much more useful. Not all of it will be used, but negative responses will be considered and some applied. That leads to the improvement process. Praise never leads to change and so only leads to stagnancy. It's only purpose is for motivation. You will never see me asking "does the map look good?" in my posts. It is always along the lines of "tell me what you don't like" or "help me out with bug hunting". Let's try to avoid the Reives-can-do-no-wrong mentality. Everywhere.

Okay, let's get on with it. But before I address the items themselves, I'd like to talk about memory. I've read the psychology books a long time ago, so pardon me for having forgotten the technical language.


Spoiler: show
What makes memory important in Finding Paradise is that what we see is not corrected by the machine's public data records due to Neil's tampering. It is thus closer in a sense to A Bird Story, in that when Colin constructs the world, he has free reign to let his fantasy mix with reality. What we as players see in Colin's memories is not what had transpired, but merely what Colin remembers. An interesting thing about memory is that it does not function like a record of facts about one's past. The recollection of memory has retroactive properties. What we remember of the past is shaped by our present.

This has potentially interesting effects on the things seen in Colin's memories. It means that an object that appears in his childhood was not necessarily there, or that it originated from his childhood. He could have seen the object in his adulthood, where the object became significant to him, and then applied that object into his childhood memories where it was relevant.

The Hibiscus

Spoiler: show
The appearance and meaning of the hibiscus is perhaps the one item that I am surest about. That's not to say that the interpretation is solid. It's just a relative term because everything else is flimsy.

I don't think the hibiscus is real. It is a figment of Colin's imagination as much as Faye is. The only actually real hibiscus is the one located in the living room of Colin's retirement home, and perhaps the one found in the honeymoon scene. All other hibiscus flowers are imaginary.

The indicators that suggest that the hibiscus is imaginary are:
  • We are told that the setting for the game is in a temperate climate. The hibiscus is a tropical flower. While a hibiscus appearing indoors may be excusable because a horticulturalist/botanist may be responsible, the hibiscus we see in Colin's memories almost all appear in the wild where they surely would have perished.
  • In the trailer released 12/12/2017, at the 2:00 mark. Play from this point. Note how the hibiscus flower fades out faster than the rest of the picture, possibly suggesting that it isn't real. Thanks Ali/Eli for pointing this one out.

Moving along this thread, it is implied that the hibiscus must have some kind of meaning to Colin that would make him falsely recall its appearance in earlier memories. Perhaps when what he associates with the hibiscus is also present. I would look for his first appearance with a real hibiscus, and the events that occurred then, but it's difficult to tell if the honeymoon hibiscus is real. If it is, it is the first appearance.

Another interesting thing about the hibiscus. In flower language, the hibiscus represents a perfect woman. The only two significant women in Colin's life are Sophia and Faye. I am tempted to say that the flower represents Faye. The line of reasoning is weak: Sophia, as a real woman, cannot be perfect; Faye, being imaginary, can. If so, then the hibiscus in the retirement home is possibly a memento of Faye. This however does not explain the appearance of the hibiscus in his memories, and I've yet to figure out what they mean.

Normally I'd say that that's sweet of him, but the many leaps in logic and excessive guesswork really hurts my confidence in this interpretation and that kills the mood quick.

The Green Book

Spoiler: show
This is the book found on the bookshelf in the attic. It is also the book that appears in A Bird Story, from which Colin tears out pages to make paper planes. We know that the book exists for sure, because we see it in the retirement home.

I think that the book is not represented as it was in reality. During memory traversal the doctors note that the book has strange properties. It does not get wet in the rain, and it is unaffected by wind.

The simplest interpretation of this is that the book was present, just not in the state that appears in the memory. For example, in the first childhood balcony scene, Colin stands out in the rain with the book, but without the book getting wet. It's possible that Colin was never out in the rain, and that the book is on his desk (or something like that), and that he is merely writing about himself being in the rain. He appears to be in the rain in the memory because the adult Colin, reading the book about himself being in the rain, comes to recall himself as being in the rain. Likewise, in the cliff scene with Colin and Faye as children, the book doesn't fly in the wind because it is really in Colin's hands as he writes in it.

I'm tempted to dig more into this to find something more meaningful, but for now I'll run with this theory. Occam's razor and all I guess.

The Scale Melody

Spoiler: show
From the player's perspective, the Scale Melody first appears in the scene where Colin and Sophia play it together after their confrontation over Sigmund's services. The next appearance comes after Colin and Faye race each other to the hill top and play with their cello and guitar. The question that arises here is where the Scale Melody really came from.

Suppose it came from the childhood scene. That means that it always existed in Colin's mind, and it was he who taught Sophia after they met. However, considering that Colin isn't musically talented, and Sophia is, I'm more inclined to believe that it was really Sophia who came up with the Scale Melody. Colin then applied it to his childhood memories. There never was any music, not just because Faye didn't exist, but also because the piece didn't exist in any form.

Clocks/Time is A Place

Spoiler: show
Clocks appear repeatedly as mementos in Finding Paradise. I find this odd, because this is a new one. Reives has always been obsessed about the wind, air and flying. It is a recurring motif in all of his games. As such common mementos like paper planes that are related to this trend don't arouse my suspicion. We know from To the Moon, and it makes sense, that items that appear as mementos regularly are of great important to the patient.

I might be overthinking this.

What does the clock represent? The subject of having little time left only came up once in an insignificant manner in Colin's memories. I suspect that it might be connected to the piece Time is A Place. I am as yet unable to interpret the meaning of its title. I am certain that it means something in the context of the story, based on the fact that all tracks in To the Moon's OST did.

That's all for now. I'll be updating this as well-backed responses come in.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2017, 02:10:58 AM by Leave Me Alone »


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Re: The Little Things in Finding Paradise
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2017, 03:09:53 AM »
Spoiler: show
In the scene where Faye fades away (the one where itís revealed that Colin knew that Faye isnít real) the Hibiscus also fades into normal flowers
ďMy story is done, but it keeps on starting over. In the end it will hover like an invisible note, embedded in the wind that ceaselessly blows from the sea. It will exist in the raindrops falling on the parched earth, and in the end it will exist in the air we breathĒ - Henning Mankell (Chronicler of The Winds)