The Evil Within Lore Guide Project

(Discuss the game)

The Evil Within Lore Guide Project

Postby Autoignition » Jul 29, 2015 5:33 pm

Hey guys! I know that the storyline of The Evil Within is extremely dense and difficult to parse through, so I’ve decided to write a series of essays dedicated to unpacking its plot. This is the first entry in the series, covering the entire backstory of the game from the very beginnings of Mobius and STEM all the way to the actual start of the game itself.

Please bear in mind that this is just my own interpretation, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone else’s is bad or wrong. However, this is a comprehensive view of the game’s canon that I have never seen exist anywhere else.

I’m open to feedback and very much open to being wrong, so please correct me if you find anything that seems out of place in these essays. I want this to eventually become a go-to guide for anyone in the fandom who’s having trouble with the story, or who just wants a reference for fic or RP or whatever else.

The link to the first essay is here. I'll edit this post with subsequent essays as they're written.

EDIT:

New essays finally starting to pour in!

8/14/16: A lore-based look at the upgrade chair.
Last edited by Autoignition on Aug 14, 2016 10:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Evil Within Lore Guide Project

Postby Nemesis85 » Jul 31, 2015 10:25 pm

wow, thanks .
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Re: The Evil Within Lore Guide Project

Postby Rousseau » Aug 18, 2015 5:31 am

Awesome project. I have a load of notes from my playthrough. I really enjoyed the puzzle-plot aspect of the game, particularly the approach of throwing a lot of clues up in the air with the main game then giving answers some time later in the DLC (which I haven't played yet).
Bookmarking for when I'm done with the DLC.
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Re: The Evil Within Lore Guide Project

Postby liontamer » Feb 04, 2016 11:05 pm

I greatly enjoyed that, and I was hoping you had already written your second part! I really appreciate the fact that you shared this.
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Re: The Evil Within Lore Guide Project

Postby Autoignition » Feb 17, 2016 3:14 pm

As we get closer to E3, I want to start up on this project again. On the chance that a sequel IS announced, I want as much time dissecting the first game's plot with as little bias from a sequel as possible. I was thinking about going the direction of doing a magnified look into Sebastian's character and his relationship with Ruvik as the protagonist and antagonist -- but before I do that, I wanted to throw this idea out into the wind and see what people think of it:

In Sebastian's journals, he alludes to the idea that Myra takes a three-year-long (!!!) maternity leave -- which doesn't exist in any country in the world. I've looked. In The Consequence, Joseph makes mention that she barely even took one at all, and Sebastian gripes about how she's never home to help with the kid. There's a HUGE discrepancy there. The biggest one between the main game and the DLCs, as a matter of fact.

So, I'm kicking around the idea that Sebastian never actually kept a journal during that time, and that the journal entries that you find aren't actually real journal entries -- they're just fragments of Sebastian's memories as he remembers them, and not necessarily as they actually happened.

I want to try to keep these essays as close to objective fact as possible with as little of my own theories filling in blanks as possible -- because it's one thing to look at a piece of evidence and interpret it, it's another thing entirely to just make shit up to support your pre-supposed conclusion -- so I wasn't sure if this was something that fell too far on the speculative side or not. Let me know what you guys think.
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Re: The Evil Within Lore Guide Project

Postby liontamer » Feb 19, 2016 5:31 am

I feel your theory slightly covers the speculative side more because there's no way to disprove the validity of Sebastian's journal. If there had been more contradictions within it, maybe then it could have been considered an obvious fragment of his memories.

It's an interesting idea though. Is there no possibility that Joseph could be wrong about his assertion?
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Re: The Evil Within Lore Guide Project

Postby Autoignition » Feb 19, 2016 6:50 pm

On the whole, I tend to weigh actual cutscenes and dialogue over Sebastian's journals. The problem with Sebastian's journals is that they were written by him. They're clouded by his own personal bias, and if you'll notice, he spins things in his journals to make it seem like everything he does is justified and he's always right. The tone that he writes in is very level-headed and confident, and everything he says sounds reasonable to us because it is reasonable to him.

So, there's that, but there's a problem with The Consequence flashbacks, too -- namely, we don't know where the hell they come from. At least with the flashbacks concerning Jimenez, Ruvik, and The Administrator, we know the source -- it's Ruvik, because either he was there at the time or he dug around in The Admin's skull and pulled it out, since we know that Ruvik marked him "long ago." But in the KCPD flashbacks, I don't know whose memories Ruvik is pulling on, and we only have two choices.

The only thing we can really do is take all of the statements about that time period and lay them on top of one another and see which ones corroborate a story and which ones contradict them. Let's use Sebastian's mental breakdown as an example. In chapter 6, Sebastian says, "It never affected my work." In context, "it" is referring to his drinking and his general mental state after the fire. Now, is this statement true?

We have two pieces of evidence that corroborate his claim. The first is in his journals (big surprise), where he says that he only drinks at home and it's his business and no one else's. We can't use this as evidence, because you can't use the same character's perspective in order to prove or disprove their claim. Of course he's going to back up his own claim that it never affected his work. The other piece of evidence is still in his journals, but it wasn't an entry written by him, so we CAN use it as evidence. In the IA transcript, Sebastian says that the KCPD can't prove a damn thing concerning any misconduct on his part, and they admit it. So, on the surface, it looks like his work really wasn't affected, because IA couldn't pull up any proof that it was, and they conducted a full-blown investigation on it. If that was the only evidence we had, then you could make a case for Sebastian being self-aware and say that his perspective AND his journals are both reliable sources of information.

However, we have more evidence contradicting Sebastian's chapter 6 claim than we do to corroborate it. Now, even though IA had no concrete proof, they knew that his drinking was a problem. They say so later on in the transcript. Even in Sebastian's own journals, he talks about how everyone around the KCPD thinks that Myra simply just left him because of his drinking. In the flashback in The Consequence, Joseph tells him that he's getting out of control. We can very clearly see that his office is a mess, he can't focus on his work, and he even baselessly accuses Joseph of hiding things from him. That looks an awful lot like this whole thing affecting his work to me. In that same room, we find one of Kidman's personal files, in which she describes Sebastian as, "Seems drunk half the time, but at least he's considerate. Is he really the one everyone's so worried about? He seems almost harmless." Kidman's perspective corroborates the flashback. And probably the biggest piece of evidence we have is Joseph himself -- Sebastian's partner who had to fucking work with the guy every single day and would notice immediately if he suddenly wasn't performing at his normal level.

Now, what's interesting here in this whole thing is that Joseph reports him to IA and not HR. If this was just about Sebastian's drinking habits and his clear symptoms of PTSD, then HR would be the place to go for that to make sure that he got the emotional and mental help he needed. But... Joseph goes to IA instead. IA is the place you go when you feel that another officer is corrupt or abusing his power or engaging in some other fucking super illegal shit. Which Sebastian super was. Sebastian's mental state was what led him into this illegal investigation in the first place -- one that Joseph probably thought would get him killed. Hence, IA and not HR. That is a huge difference, because HR would just put Sebastian on sabbatical and force him into therapy. IA could get him fired and possibly jailed for what he was doing. And for someone who cares about Sebastian as much as Joseph seems to? That's a drastic fucking measure.

So, is Sebastian's claim that his drinking never affected his work true? No. Sebastian is an extremely unreliable narrator for more reasons than one, and I would be hesitant to take anything he says at face value. His memories are scattered and repressed from STEM's influence, and he's quite frankly a person who is constantly lying to himself in order to just get through the day. He's a paranoid conspiracy theorist with a drinking problem -- and even though his conspiracy theories turned out to be 100% real, we still need to recognize that this is a man who operates solely on confirmation bias and who thinks he's never wrong.

So, to bring this back around to the original point, to a certain extent we can disprove the validity of Sebastian's journals -- but only to a certain extent. We can only disprove the things that we have evidence to disprove. Kidman's statements on Sebastian and Joseph confirm that those flashbacks have some merit, and they cast doubt on Sebastian's view of himself and his perspective of the world. Sebastian has an extremely romanticized view of his own marriage and of his wife... but we know that his wife has been working for Mobius for months at least and that she was the very person who recruited Kidman into Mobius and stuck her under Sebastian's wing in the KCPD. It's hard to imagine her as being this warm, affectionate, loving mother of the year all years.

If we look at the whole maternity leave thing, basically all we have to go on is Sebastian's journals vs the flashback in The Consequence. It's far more likely that Sebastian is straight up pulling bullshit out of his ass in his journals than it is that the flashback is incorrect -- because it's not just Joseph who mentions that she barely took maternity leave; Seb complains that she's never home, too. So, either he just straight up fucking lied in his journals to make himself feel better about his household situation even though he knows the truth and remembers it quite well (which is always possible), or he doesn't want to acknowledge the truth and is still lying to himself about it and those flashbacks were actually pulled from Joseph's head, since Sebastian's memories can't be trusted (which is also possible).

I think that there's enough reason to call bullshit on a lot of what Sebastian writes in his journals, but there are certain things that I don't think he would get wrong, like the day he was promoted or his wedding date or his daughter's birth or Myra's disappearance. To some extent, we can take his journals as a nice timeline for reference, but the actual events in and of themselves are completely skewed and tinted by his unreliable bias. I guess you're right in saying that I can't prove one way or the other whether he was keeping the journals in real-time or not, but I'd say that the one thing I think we can fall back on is Tatiana saying: "Memories are vague things indeed. It can be easy, at times, for memories to become distorted by others. That is why they must be cherished."

Now, that line in and of itself could probably fill out its own entire essay, because there's so much to be said about Sebastian's memory and his trip through STEM, but with regards to his journals... I don't know. Maybe I'm just floundering and searching for any kind of a starting point, because I've been having so much trouble just organizing my thoughts on this damn canon. Everything is so intertwined and it's so hard for me to break it up into sections or form a coherent thought on it, because it's like a goddamn spiderweb.
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Re: The Evil Within Lore Guide Project

Postby liontamer » Feb 19, 2016 9:17 pm

What if Sebastian's drinking habit took some time before it finally started affecting his work; is it possible that his drinking got worse as his illegal investigation carried on? Maybe he was doing fine until the period when he wrote that journal entry, the one found in chapter six.
If this was the case, it would also make sense that the KCPD couldn't prove his misconduct until then (even though they know he drinks).

I realize it's a very baseless speculation but it isn't easy to try and make sense of everything in this game.

Unfortunately, this theory will be destroyed if the flashback from The Consequence takes place before the journal entry from chapter six was written; the scene where Joseph tells Sebastian that he's getting out of control.

Even with the case concerning his misconduct out of the way, the issue at hand is hardly resolved. I think the biggest obstacle in our way is Sebastian's account on his wife's disappearance and Joseph's take on her maternity leave, and honestly I simply don't know what to make of it. I wish I could draw to a conclusion without any doubt, but I can't.

I do think that the best use of his journal would be to use it as a timeline of events, like you said. It's not like it gives us any important information that we wouldn't already know from the cut-scenes? Whatever else we gained from his journals isn't contradicted elsewhere, I hope...
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Re: The Evil Within Lore Guide Project

Postby Autoignition » Feb 19, 2016 10:51 pm

I'm not sure I follow... why would he start drinking at the time of the journal entry found in chapter 6? That entry is his letter to his unborn daughter. Do you mean the one in chapters 9 or 10? Those are the ones dealing with Lily's death. I can't imagine why Sebastian would start drinking during Myra's pregnancy. There's one detail about Sebastian that's consistent across every single piece of evidence and from everyone's viewpoint: he absolutely adored that little girl. He was very very likely a way better father than Myra was a mother. I can't imagine him drinking to excess at all during Lily's life (social drinking not withstanding).

I think we need to put a timeline of the flashbacks together just for easy reference.

KCPD flashback #1: takes place shortly after Lily is born.
KCPD flashback #2: takes place after Myra's disappearance.
KCPD flashback #3: takes place somewhere in the gap between Myra's disappearance and the start of the game.

Joseph reported Sebastian to IA somewhere between flashbacks 2 and 3, so we can surmise that this is the period in which Sebastian's drinking and paranoia got out of hand. In flashback #2, you can see Joseph very clearly still walking on eggshells around him and trying his hardest to handle Sebastian's problems himself. Some time after that but before flashback #3, Joseph realizes just how serious and dangerous this is and distances himself from his partner and reports him to IA.

I love love love love love the KCPD flashbacks because they do this subtle little thing to visually show you the stages of Sebastian and Joseph's friendship. In flashback #1, there's this filter over the screen that's very warm and rose-colored in order to convey the idea of looking back on the past with "rose-tinted glasses." Flashback #2 has a filter that's dark blue and black. It's a very oppressive and heavy atmosphere, and they even added in a thunderstorm in the background to amplify the tone. Flashback #3 has a cold white filter over it. Everything is devoid of color and Sebastian and Joseph appear in black and white. It almost reminds you of snowy static on a TV set, doesn't it?

I have a hard time believing that Sebastian was drinking back in those rose-tinted days. That's part of the reason why I think these memories were ripped from Joseph, though. I have to wonder if Sebastian would have a memory of him bitching about Myra never being home and color it so warmly like that. And if it is Joseph's memories, then that means one of them is wrong. And since we already have Kidman corroborating Joseph's story, it looks like Sebastian's memories are the false ones.
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Re: The Evil Within Lore Guide Project

Postby liontamer » Feb 20, 2016 1:04 am

Yeah, I meant to refer to the journal entry from ch 9/10, basically the ones after Lily's death. But I'm having a hard time accepting Sebastian's memories now, based on your theory...

I love love love love love the KCPD flashbacks because they do this subtle little thing to visually show you the stages of Sebastian and Joseph's friendship. In flashback #1, there's this filter over the screen that's very warm and rose-colored in order to convey the idea of looking back on the past with "rose-tinted glasses." Flashback #2 has a filter that's dark blue and black. It's a very oppressive and heavy atmosphere, and they even added in a thunderstorm in the background to amplify the tone. Flashback #3 has a cold white filter over it. Everything is devoid of color and Sebastian and Joseph appear in black and white. It almost reminds you of snowy static on a TV set, doesn't it?


That's a cool interpretation of filters that I didn't think about, but I agree, it's pretty awesome. Another thing I appreciated about the flashbacks was how they showcased a bit of Sebastian's personality, something I feel was missing from the main game. It helped his character development, and was a delightful surprise.

Speaking of filters, I really love the overall atmosphere and design of the game. I may be going a little off-topic, but seriously, I can't stress enough how awesome it is to actually feel tense due to the ominous soundtrack or even the level design, and it's one of the many things that I really hope doesn't change in the sequel.
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