Arriving at the rustic inn, the polite and understated innkeeper confirms that the funeral parade was indeed for the enigmatic Anna Voralberg. Thus the first complication of the story occurs. In writing this description of the game, I will narrate the events from the perspective of one who has finished the game and is highlighting the crucial points. This approach is necessary for succinctness, as much of playing a game involves exploring the same areas, solving puzzles both minor and major, and speaking to a variety of people, some of whom are granted small parts in the journey. This detail must be left out of the description, which would otherwise become a walkthrough or guide, and be experienced through one’s own playing of the game.
The passing away of Ms. Voralberg complicates Kate’s job, but it is
nothing our young lawyer has not dealt with before, and she soon sets
off to see the town lawyer and clerk. Valadilene is a snowy, well-kept
town with rustic wooden buildings. The town was prosperous in the
hey-day of its industry, but the abandoned buildings and rusting
automatons speak of a community left behind by change.
The handful of remaining residents go about their lives amidst the
decaying beauty, still using the few remaining automatons (such as the
elaborate, small figure attached to the door of the clerk’s house, arm
outstretched to hold official documents, and binoculars raised for the
clerk to read them from inside). The residents are obviously hanging
onto their history of automation, but are nonetheless gracious to Kate
and quite eager for the business deal to take place, so the town can be
economically revitalised and its young people return.
The formal, portly clerk calmly explains that normally in a case
where the last remaining estate holder dies, the town would inherit the
Voralberg factory, and the process of deciding whether to go ahead with
the acquisition could be completed in the town through local community
representatives. Unfortunately, a letter left by the deceased Anna
Voralberg throws a cog into the mix, as she reveals her brother Hans,
thought to have died years ago, is still alive somewhere in the far
reaches of Siberia. Without the signature of the last heir, the clerk
apologetically informs Kate, the deal cannot legally go through.
Thus, a quick trip to the middle of nowhere to complete a simple, yet
immensely profitable, deal becomes more complicated. Kate’s mobile
phone acts as a passageway between the surreal world she currently is
adventuring in, and her normal, modern life in busy New York. Calls from
her boss make it clear she works for a rude, demanding employer. Her
personal calls reveal a caring, casual relationship with her feisty,
sometimes embarrassing mother; and seemingly good, solid relationships
with a best friend and boyfriend. Her relations with these New York
connections will be emblematic of Kate’s journey between the ordinary,
adult world of Kate the lawyer and the surreal, dream world that awakens
the imaginative and idealistic side of Kate.
The Voralberg factory is in decline, and documents make it clear the
company is going under, as well as shedding light on the touching
sibling friendship between Anna Voralberg and her brother Hans, who
suffered brain damage as a result of an accident. It becomes clear that
their father shunned Hans after the accident, mourning the loss of the
ordinary, adventurous boy who was to take over the family business after
Mr. Voralberg’s death. Hans and his sister went exploring in the
wilderness near town when they were kids, stumbling upon a prehistoric
cave where once lived a prehistoric family. On a high natural shelf sat
something interesting, a toy woolly mammoth, made perhaps out of bone
and animal fur. Made by a loving father or mother for their children to
play with thousands of years ago, and left behind untouched on the rocky
shelf- until being discovered by the intrepid kids. It is while trying
to acquire this precious item that Hans had his accident, hitting his
head on the unyielding rocky floor.
The last thing Hans saw, or wanted; before the accident, was the
woolly mammoth figurine. The now brain-damaged Hans huddles away in
corners of the factory and his house, wilting under his father’s
disapproving stare. The boy develops an obsession with mammoths, drawing
them and building automaton miniatures of the long-gone beasts. Since
mammoths were the last thing he saw before the accident, they seem to
have sparked his imagination and a secret part of his brain that is
normally hidden in people (or perhaps silenced, by the mundane nature of
ordinary life). For now the once ordinary boy has developed a genius
for designing and building automatons. His father once again is
disappointed that his boy would rather build toys than commercial
automatons. Hans reaches out to his sister, building beautiful automaton
figurines for her, creations that can play music and recreate events.
Hans runs away in his teen years, and his father, unable to bear the
shame and grief, engages in a conspiracy with the town priest to fake
the boy’s death.
It is revealed that Hans constructed an extremely advanced automaton
train and conductor, Oscar, to take a very special passenger on a ride
to meet the emancipated Hans. That special passenger was to be his
sister Anna, and Hans wanted nothing more than for her to join him in
his search to find his dream, his fate, whatever it may be.
Look out for the epic, dark fantasy ebooks of Goodreads-rated author T.P. Grish at: