I just keep thinking about the bay or bae choice but like in the context of the choice the beast gives Wirt at the end of over the garden wall. Like the tornado asking to choose between chloe and Arcadia bay and Max just responding with, "that's dumb" and choosing something else that saves everyone lmao
Haha, I’ve never drawn that comparison but that’s amusing. OTGW is one of my favorite stories in general at this point, though. Thinking on all of this led to an informal essay that helps me ground myself in my own mistakes with other fics I’ve worked on, All Wounds’ planning stages, and how I’m approaching its impending ending.
This one’s a bit of a doozie.
(I will be referencing elements of the endings to Over the Garden Wall, Life is Strange, Steins;Gate, and Oxenfree, in case you’re worried about knowing things you don’t yet want to know)
OTGW and LIS are very different stories dealing with very different themes, and OTGW can get away with a blunt and brusque resolution like that because it’s a dark comedy that’s in many ways subverting or teasing a lot of melodramatic tropes. LIS often introduces tropes and then peels back a layer and asks us to look deeper, which is a whole other sort of deal.
The problem, though, is that its own finale and final climax kind of doesn’t hold up, because it hinges upon a choice that really makes no sense – and a moral-oriented choice, at that, which makes it even harder to swallow.
With Wirt and the Beast, there’s a physical character within the world to confront. To call out. To vanquish or scare off or outsmart. Greg’s disposition can be broken apart and he can be released. The entire story is about mystery and, well
OTGW makes no allusions that its story isn’t supposed to quite make sense, it embraces its mystery, and it subverts things by making ‘reality’ a hidden element until the final act.
The story makes it pretty obvious that this world isn’t supposed to make much sense, too, which leads us to not really question things when it doesn’t.
Wirt is the elder brother, he’s supposed to set an example, he’s supposed to look out for his sibling, and he fails.
And while there’s a lot of darkness to this story, it is, ultimately, a comedy, first and foremost, and most resolutions with the various antagonists are resolved with some kind of clever or amusing tactic. It doesn’t want us to take it too seriously, and it’s often making fun of tropes in dramatic fantasy stories.
What’s happening with Max, Chloe, and the tornado isn’t so physical as being lost, as confronting magical beasts. It’s abstract and unexplained, yet the story wants us to take it seriously and tries (weakly) to ‘explain’ things. This falls short because there aren’t really any concrete, established rules, and yet we’re supposed to buy into everything being Max’s fault when we don’t even know how it’s her fault. This is tricky because within the context of the narrative, it makes the player assume the position and perspective the creators wanted:
Max Caulfield is supposed to choose between the greater good, or what she desires as an individual.
The premise of that choice is great, and it’s what the entire game has been foreshadowing and leading up to. The execution is just very iffy to me because of the dodgy attempt at explanation…without explaining anything. ‘Chaos Theory’ literally does not work the way the game alludes to it. The writers know none of this makes sense, which is why in the finale they unfortunately go as bluntly as to make Chloe say: