22nd August 2012; By KnucklesSonic8
! SPOILER ALERT ! This feature includes both mid-game and end-of-game spoilers.
In the discussion of discovery and the mixed company of reality and truth, there is a certain eventuality that must be prepared for -- namely that what you earnestly seek isn't what you will in fact find. And in the fear of those answers taking a negative or completely earth-shattering form comes the surfacing of both natural and uncharacteristic acts of emotion. At various points throughout Trace Memory's storyline, the main character, Ashley Robbins, displays a number of erratic behavioural responses to the ever-encroaching presence of reality and truth. With her youth being a contributing factor, she is portrayed as a bratty, impatient, get-to-the-point kind of girl who only has an interest in extending a conversation if it directly pertains to her -- and by extension, her quest. With personal comments (e.g., "I've had a lot of experience not getting myself killed!") revealing a bitterness towards not knowing all surrounding details and a dissatisfaction with not having it served to her in the now, her development becomes an especially worthwhile point of consideration as the enigmatic character, D, enters into the picture.
Being able to relate to each other's plight of suffering and loneliness prompts the two to join up in an effort to find their way together. This piggyback technique of shared circumstances serves as a psychological crux for these two individuals to form a bond and carry out their personal missions with the aid of the other. Two heads are better than one, as the expression goes, but only if the two work harmoniously towards the same objective.
Despite groping with a bad situation for what would no doubt feel like eons, D shows signs of personal recovery on a progressive basis in the way he starts to slowly remember key details relating to the blurred life he had. A key passing moment is seen when Ashley stumbles across a key detail relating to her journey, delivered from an unexpected source. Questioning her motives, her desire to continue uncovering the truth fades to an alarming low, and instead of relying on what she has done up to this point -- looking beyond the obvious and posing questions as the inquisitive sort that she is -- she curls up into a ball and allows her emotions to catch up with her. It is at this low point that D functions as a comforter, reminding her of the reasons why she longed to seek after this truth in the first place and assuring her that, like it or not, her quest was not over. Temporarily halted, perhaps, but certainly not completed.
Ashley certainly possesses this similar quality of helpful behaviours in her observance for clues that knock D into a state of remembrance. However, it would be wrong to conclude that this is purely of righteous intentions that these realizations occur. More coincidental than sought after in the interest of the other person, it becomes apparent that Ashley is really looking out for herself, as demonstrated by her actions of outburst and insensitivity as well as her lack of needed assurances towards D. What's interesting is the manner in which this affects the player, too. Coming to the conclusion of her quest after much time spent deliberating over its value, we find a powerful reminder that initially seems out of place, but it is one that foreshadows the underlying point about being caught up in one side of the story.
my past, Ashley?" Without adequate context, such a statement would seem selfish, extraordinarily out of character. It is only after stopping to properly digest that a key point is made -- the level of selfishness being attributed to D should, in fact, be looked at with Ashley's character in mind. Her quest being satisfied to a more than partial degree, instead of manifesting continued care and interest in D's welfare, her long-unsatisfied now-realized emotional needs blind her to his needs, which have not been perfectly met. Perhaps not an entire disregard, but certainly to the extent that she puts it aside and virtually forgets about having an interest in continuing that shared quest now that her portion is seeing fulfillment. What started out as a dual effort to push through personal walls eventually transpired into a situation where only one of the two displayed true commitment, understanding the twofold nature of the big picture -- that of giving and receiving.
Whereupon fully meeting one's goal-oriented ends, the quest still cannot be seen as being complete in the fullest of terms. Definition comes about through decisions made and attitudes adopted in the hereafter just as much as the extension of process in the lapse of time for one's desiring to achieve those ends. To quote the game directly, "Real sadness comes from not knowing the truth" -- a true statement that D knew all too well and Ashley further failed to ease. In an act of irresponsibility, Ashley all but drops support of D's not-even-half-complete quest, inferring that there's nothing more that can be done on her end.
In a personal quest for truth, an impetuous fixation on the past can consume us on both conscious and subconscious levels and produce within us effects that are detrimental to our view of the world and those around us. Thusly not always marked by an aggregate uprightness, relying solely on personal effects as a stimulus to achieve completeness in understanding can narrow our minds to the concept of quests beyond our own. As the sharing and inserting of ourselves into the lives of others for the driving of shared stories and existentialist discoveries is what pulls humanity together, to cast this aside entirely for pursuits of a selfish accord is to betray the deeper functions of story, however incomplete.