Posted: January 31
Let me tell you a story. Spoilers, obviously.
When I started playing this game, my approach was to "ghost" through the levels. "Ghosting" refers to passing through the level undetected without harming anyone, as though you were never there to begin with. I reasoned that, because my character was at risk of going mad, this path of restraint would be a logical choice for them.
Then I got to a point where it was quite clear I would be unable to progress without one of two things happening: killing a guard, or being detected. Maybe once I beat the game and had more tools available I could come back and ghost the level, but with my current inventory it wasn't happening. So I killed them. I reasoned that, because killing undetected was worth far more points than not killing after being detected, this is how I was intended to play the game.
So I killed only when necessary to avoid detection. Then I killed when doing otherwise would have been inconvenient. Then I killed when I felt like it. Eventually, and before I knew it, I was backtracking across the map to hunt down a single enemy that had escaped my wrath.
Killing was no longer part of the game. Killing WAS the game. Each kill was an exercise in self-expression and creativity. Whatever the risk was for impending madness, I didn't care. I was having way too much fun.
Then I reached the end of the game, and it was pointed out to me that I had indeed gone mad, that I was hallucinating, and that it was my duty to end my life. Now, whatever amount of killing I may have done, after terrorizing a enemy to shoot another enemy with their assault rifle, it seemed MORE likely that they had at least HELD an assault rifle than that I was merely imagining them doing so. Hallucinations don't inflict real bullet wounds on other hallucinations. What's more, whatever my disposition might have been, these people had still killed a friend of mine, and they had been trying to kill me.
So I said, screw that. At the very least, you buggers will die first.
And then the credits rolled, and the epilogue was revealed.
They were right. I HAD become a monster. And now I had unleashed myself on the world. I was unseeable, I was untouchable, and I was unstoppable. I was a terror, I had been given the chance to end my life, and I didn't. And now there was no stopping me.
That this was so perfectly conveyed through my gameplay experience is a greater compliment to the developers than any words can describe.