Part 20: Shaking Hands
content warning: child abuse (physical, severe), discussion of mental illness symptoms (including treatments such as ECT), sexual assault (WILL NOT BE SHOWN), pedophilia (again, not depicted), extreme violence, police brutality
(READ THE CONTENT WARNING)
It's time to rip off the bandaid that is this next section and get it out of the way as quickly as possible. If you've ever heard of this game- or looked up any of the reviews- you've probably seen negative mentions to a particular part of the game that was not warned about, and ended up triggering some people by the fact that there's no content warning or previous indications that this kind of thing would even be mentioned let alone depicted... at all. Well, we're at that point now. It's not a pattern of inclusion, thankfully, but if you've read the content warnings above (which if you haven't, please, go read them first before continuing), you probably have a pretty good idea what topic is coming up in this section.
When I first decided I wanted to LP this game, I knew this section existed in the game and that it was going to have to be handled very delicately considering the subject matter (and that I was going to need to get mod eyes on this beforehand- which I have done, including having them vet this update before it even went live to make sure it got the green light), but that still doesn't change the fact that for some reason the devs thought it would be cool to explicitly depict a scene of sexual assault, not even getting into the fact that the victim is a preteen minor. Obviously this scene isn't EXPLICIT explicit- again, this game is on Switch and PS4- but it's still explicit enough to be triggering, so here's how I'm going to be handling this:
I will include the beginning part of the letter in this LP because the set-up for where Park Sang-Gun is /is/ important, but will cut things off before the actual event in question happens. We will not be solving his puzzle at all (or even showing it), and instead I will briefly summarize what happens in the outcomes for his side. The remainder of this update will just be focused on Chang's letter and quickly run down his outcomes as well, since, well, hard to solve a puzzle when you can't show half of it.
In addition, if you feel uncomfortable even reading his part of the update, at the end of the update I will have included a TL;DR summarizing everything for his side, like I did in a previous LP where this kind of topic came up. Please do whatever you need to take care of yourselves, and I understand if that means skipping through to the other half- or just skipping the update altogether.
With that said, let's get this over with.
[BGM: Blood Ties]
My dad had a bad temper.
He often hit my Mom and me.
One day, I knocked him out with a bottle to help Mom.
I thought he would beat me up once he woke up.
But I never expected that people from a mental hospital would show up at our door.
These strangers were here to take me away.
Mom was not at home.
I could still hear the last word Dad ever said to me.
I was not ill. I was taken to the hospital because I was a bad child.
However, everybody here would insist they were not ill.
Besides, the male nurses here were all as strong as bears. They could lift me off the ground with a single hand. There was no way I could escape from here.
I was put in a very small room, alone.
There was a desk, a chair, and a simple bed.
The sheets and blankets looked yellow and they were covered with stains.
The walls were very dirty too, and some one had written a lot of bad words in the corners.
I would try to talk with the female nurses, just to get through the day.
Soon I realized that as long as I kept saying nice things about them, they would tell me anything I wanted to know.
I had learned from them that the hospital was not too far away from my home.
They said that the president of the hospital was a relative of someone important in the government. That was how the hospital had received a lot of government funding, but the president had pocketed most of it for himself.
They also said that the president was rarely here. The person who was really in charge was the vice president, Dr. Lee Yun-Seok.
Dr. Lee was an expert in his field and he always looked out for the employees.
If it weren't for him the hospital would have closed down a long time ago.
It was a Tuesday.
I had been here for two days, but I hadn't seen one doctor yet.
If I could have Dr. Lee examine me, maybe he would know that I wasn't really ill and let me go home.
Around dinner time I was waiting for the tray to be put through the door, when it opened.
A tall, slim male nurse stood at the door, and said he would take me to see the doctor.
I had never seen him before. He probably worked in another building.
I followed him downstairs, across the garden and into another building.
We walked up to the fifth floor and stopped at the door of an office. The name tag on the door said Lee Yun-Seok.
I sat nervously on the medical stool.
It was very dark inside and no lights were turned on.
I could smell a faint scent in the room.
It was only the two of us in the room.
He asked a few simple questions first.
To prove I was a good child I answered all of the questions honestly.
I also told him that Dad would beat Mom and me, and why I thought I had been brought here. It was because Dad thought I was a bastard, a bad child.
You are here because you have a condition called selective cognitive impairment.
Selective cog...ni...tive impairment?
I had never heard of it; I could barely say it.
In other words, you have a tendency to fantasize about events. For instance, you said your father had choked your mother with a rope, but that never happened.
That's not true! Dad must have lied to you! He beat me. He even poured boiling water on me! I-I can show you!
[BGM: Lethal Affair]
I took off my shirt and turned my back towards him.
I showed him the burn scars that went from my neck all the way to my back.
That was what Dad had given me when he doused me with boiling water.
Dr. Lee raised his hand and touched the scars with his fingertips.
His hand was so cold that I took a deep breath.
You are mistaken. It wasn't your father who did this to you. Your symptoms are quite severe; if we don't do something about it, it might very likely turn into 'schizophrenia'.
That would be an even worse condition. People with the condition have to be tied down to their beds. They can't go outside, not even to the bathroom. Every day they need to go through electroconvulsive therapy. In more serious cases we might even perform brain surgery on them.
I'm cutting things off here, as the doctor goes on from here to distract and lower Sang-Gun's guard until, well... you know.
The actual puzzle involves Sang-Gun finding a gun on the desk while he is fending off the doctor's advances, but in the default Bad Ending he fails to shoot the doctor and instead shatters a nearby mirror, alerting the nurse who is standing outside. However, the nurse is aware of what the doctor intends and leaves after seeing nobody was hurt. The section ends with Sang-Gun experiencing depersonalization as a trauma response.
The A outcome results in Sang-Gun killing the doctor by shooting him point-blank before anything can happen, but this alerts the guard in the hall as well as the other staff in the building. As they congregate outside, Sang-Gun sees himself in the nearby mirror and, upon noticing the red coating his face and chest, pictures himself like a warrior covered in the blood of his enemies.
The S outcome has Sang-Gun realize that if he kills the doctor right now, he will never be free again, and instead he swears to bide his time until an opportunity presents itself that will let him both kill his abuser and escape- so he can get revenge on his father, who he believes has paid a large sum of money to the asylum to imprison Sang-Gun there indefinitely. In his own words: What you have done to me... One day, I will pay you back, plus extra.
And that's where the section ends for him. Let's move over to Chang's side.
I had finally seen a true marksman today.
The custodian, who loved soap operas so much that he would bawl his eyes out, had averted Lieutenant Kang's crisis with just a toy gun!
And it was from such a distance!
Forget about it being a toy gun. Even with a real gun it would be incredibly hard to hit the temple of your target.
If I had gone on the mission by myself everything would have been over by now.
I hadn't realized that I couldn't shoot a gun until I enrolled in the police academy.
Every time I tried to aim, I couldn't calm down and concentrate.
No matter how hard I trained, I couldn't improve my shooting performance.
The academy even sent me to a specialized psychologist, although we didn't find anything wrong.
Unsurprisingly, I got a 0 in my final shooting test; I became the laughing stock of the class.
If it weren't for my outstanding grades in the combat test convincing the academy to make an exception for me, I would probably still be wasting bullets in training.
Guns must simply not agree with me.
There couldn't be any other explanation.
The custodian had gone back to the police station.
All we needed to do was wait for the reinforcements from the station and clean up the mess.
By the way, even though I wasn't good with them, I could still appreciate guns.
I still thought that it would feel great if I could have one with me all the time.
I was playing with a gun that I had just picked up off of the ground. It must have belonged to one of these losers.
When I was feeling a little drunk with the power in my hands, a stranger walked out of the shadows behind the cargo container.
It was a huge muscular man in his 40s or 50s.
He was wounded.
But both the tattoo on his bald head and the scars at the corner of his eyes were telling me that he would not be afraid of a fight.
I held the gun steady and pointed it at him, when Lieutenant Kang casually said, He's one of us.
Lieutenant Kang was sitting on top of some passed out lackey in a pink striped shirt.He was holding half of a cigarette in his hand and he had just exhaled a puff of murky white smoke.
I was shocked.
This person didn't look like a police officer at all.
Well, I supposed they were all birds of a feather.
Unit 4 must have plenty of weirdos like them.
I lowered the gun, stood straight and gave him a salute.
Sir, I'm Chang Gyeong-Min! I was just assigned to Unit 4 a week ago. It is a pleasure to meet you.
Pleasure to meet you, too.
It wasn't the hulking officer who had responded.
It was Choi Yo-han, who was standing behind him with a gun pushed up against his head.
[BGM: Pensive Moments]
Did you all think it was fucking over?!
He held his gun against the officer's temple, while rubbing his own bruised head with the other hand.
I had somehow forgotten that he had only been shot by a toy gun!
How could I have made such an idiotic mistake again?!
Lieutenant Kang slowly stood up too.
His cigarette was still burning, but he had no interest in smoking it again.
Hahahaha! Now those are the kind of looks that I like. Kid, raise your gun.
I wasn't sure what trick he was trying to play, but I involuntarily held onto it more firmly.
I'm giving you two choices: your lieutenant, or this meathead here. Use your gun to make your pick, put a bullet in his head, and then we are done. Don't play any tricks on me!
I must have heard it wrong.
I had never been trained for this scenario back at the academy...
Choi Yo-Han chuckled.
Oh, also, I'm the kind of person who doesn't have too much patience. So, I'll give you... five seconds. How about that? Let's begin the countdown-----
I slowly raised the gun, while my arms suddenly felt like they had been filled with lead.
On one side, it was the senior officer whom I had just met.
On the other side, it was Lieutenant Kang.
What kind of sick joke was this?
I must calm down and think. There must be some other way.
But I had only 5 seconds!
Lieutenant Kang was standing to my right.
The cigarette in his hand had already burnt out. He was standing there, completely motionless, like a statue.
Our eyes met in midair, but time kept flowing.
My hands were shaking.
I pointed my gun at Choi Yo-Han.
I tried my best to aim at his forehead...
Could... could I make the shot?
The officer looked at me calmly.
He seemed to be telling me with his eyes,
I trust you!
But I couldn't trust myself!
Huge drops of sweat were rolling down my face.
No! I couldn't make it!
I gave up.
The officer's head exploded right in front of my eyes.
Then the gun barrel turned to me, with a sliver of smoke still creeping out of it.
Choi pulled the trigger. The bullet hit me and knocked me over.
Kang Baek-Ya, how does it feel, watching your men die in front of you, huh?! Ahahahaha------
I felt my eyelids getting heavier and heavier. I couldn't see the expression on Lieutenant Kang's face.
The voice of Choi mocking and taunting the lieutenant was getting further and further away, too...
A few weeks later I woke up in the Busan Metropolitan Hospital.
Tubes were coming out of every part of my body. The EKG machine was beeping steadily next to the bed.
Captain Gong told me when he visited me that I was the only survivor from the warehouse.
How could this have happened?
Someone please tell me that this was all just a dream.
Please, Buddha, they were all good people. Please... please help them...
Okay, so it may come as no real surprise to you that every outcome that isn't the S one is a Bad Ending for Chang here.
There are three pieces in play for this: 'My hands were shaking', 'I turned to my right', and 'I pulled the trigger'; since I'm not showing the puzzle this time, I'll just give a quick rundown of the other Bad endings and then show the S outcome, both for length concerns but also just to get through this update as quickly as possible considering...everything.
The first Bad Ending, shown by entering 'I turned to my right'/'I pulled the trigger' results in Chang pointing the gun at Kang, intending to shoot only to injure but not to kill him. However, Chang is unable to get his aim right, and ends up shooting the man in the pick striped shirt behind Kang, which just pisses off Choi and leads to the same outcome with Chang waking up a few weeks later in the hospital. If you don't include 'I pulled the trigger', then he can't even bring himself to try, which also leads to the same outcome where Choi shoots him.
If you only include 'I pulled the trigger', Chang attempts to shoot Choi, but his aim is bad and he shoots the muscular man instead. Choi laughs about this, and then shoots Chang immediately- he never intended to hold up his end of the bargain.
If you put 'My hands were shaking' before him pulling the trigger, Chang briefly remembers that the only time he ever managed to hit inside the target was a day where he was already trembling because of the cold; he believes in the chance that a miracle could happen, and fires the gun- barely missing Choi's head. Choi shoots him immediately.
The solution to get the S ending is 'My hands were shaking'/'I turned to my right'/'I pulled the trigger':
I pointed the gun at Lieutenant Kang.
Choi Yo-Han was not easy to fool. I had to choose the lieutenant in order to save the officer.
As long as I didn't hit any critical spots, the lieutenant would be OK.
I could also stall for a bit longer.
My hands were shaking like never before.
It reminded me of the only time that I had ever hit inside the target. It was a very windy day and I was wearing nothing but a tank top, so I had been trembling because of the cold.
Now that I was shaking so hard, maybe there would be another miracle?
Lieutenant Kang saw me pointing the gun at him. He didn't look like he blamed me.
I could see that he understood that it was my plan to stall.
But he didn't know that I was an extremely lousy shot!
Huge drops of sweat were rolling down my face when I pulled the trigger.
The bullet flew out of the barrel and hit Lieutenant Kang in his left arm.
I made it! I actually made the shot!
However, Choi Yo-Han was obviously not satisfied with the result.
Kid, are you really such a terrible shot? Or are you just trying to fool me? I guess I'll have to teach you a lesson.
He moved his gun away from the officer's temple and pointed it at his back.
Bang! A red hole appeared in his stomach.
The officer's face turned pale. But he didn't wince even a little, trying not to worry us.
What a man he was!
Oh well. I'm also a pretty nice guy. How about I give you another chance? This time, aim at the head. See, right here-----
He poked his gun at the officer's temple while laughing like a maniac.
My anger was boiling inside me. I couldn't listen to any more bullshit coming out from the butter face of that bastard.
But... what could I do?
No matter how fast I could possibly move, I couldn't be faster than a bullet.
A shadow leapt past me from behind while I was still trying to think.
A splash of blood spilled to the floor, inside of my shadow that was cast by the dim lights.
[BGM: The Darkness]
A gun was sticking out of Choi Yo-Han's mouth.
No, it was barely a mouth anymore.
Choi's body was falling to the ground at the same speed as my vomit.
Lieutenant Kang took the gun out of Choi's hand.
There was no warmth in his eyes, and he looked like someone else completely.
The will to kill was radiating from him.
The will to kill every single living thing in sight, even those that had already been incapacitated.
A minute later,
those who had passed out in the warehouse would never wake up again.
The officer was lying next to Choi Yo-Han's body, still bleeding. I couldn't tell if he was still breathing.
Lieutenant Kang's eyes then turned to the only remaining person alive in the warehouse.
He looked into my eyes.
Then he raised his gun...
[BGM: New Life]
NEW MESSAGE: The Feline King
NEW MESSAGE: The Standoff
Profiles have updated.
Park Sang-Gun has been sent to a mental institution by his father after the events of his previous letter, where he knocked his father out with a bottle to protect his mother. He spends several days there until being summoned to visit Dr. Lee Yun-Seok, the vice president of the mental institution. During his visit, he answers all the doctor's questions to the best of his ability, including showing a particularly graphic burn scar that spans from his neck all the way down the length of his back that he insists his father caused in a past abuse incident.
However, the doctor asserts that Sang-Gun suffers from a mental condition which includes symptoms of visual and mental hallucination, and that his beliefs- and memories- that his father has been abusing him and his mother are completely false. Unfortunately, as this discussion is happening, the doctor is quickly revealed to be a predator who has been using his position to groom and abuse his patients, and Sang-Gun is the latest victim. Sang-Gun finds a gun on his desk when fighting off the doctor's advances, but realizes if he kills the doctor then and there he will not be able to escape as it will alert the nurse outside; he instead makes a commitment to bide his time until he can kill his abuser AND escape, as he has learned his father has paid the asylum to keep Sang-Gun there indefinitely and believes his father wants him out of the picture for good.