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Where is Mei Shin?

Devotion is a Taiwanese independent horror game developed by Red Candle Games, who also made Detention. It was released on Steam on February 13th 2019note .

Taiwan, 1980s. You live in an apartment complex with your wife and your small daughter, Mei Shin. One day, you sit on the sofa in your living room, watching a show on TV, while your wife is preparing dinner. Everything seems peaceful, but as your wife chats with you about everyday life, she asks:

"Where's Mei Shin?"

The lights go out. You are alone, in the dark, in a ruined apartment, and the TV is only showing static. What happened? How did you get here? And, most importantly, where is your daughter?

Due to the nature of the story, spoilers abound.


Devotion has examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: As time goes in, it becomes readily apparent that Feng Yu - that is, you - became more and more unhinged as years went on and their career got nowhere, culminating in locking his young daughter up in the bathroom for seven days to soak in snake wine as a religious ritual, which leads to her death. He was also shown to put too much pressure on his daughter to succeed.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Everything concerning Mei Shin, really, particularly the idea that you might be pushing your child so hard, she develops anxiety and has severe panic attacks, and your attempts at help end up killing her.
    • Living with an abusive spouse.
    • Being unable to support your family because your career is a failure.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Sort of. The game ends with Feng Yu entering the bathroom where his daughter has been locked for the past week, only to be swallowed by light and a musical sequence involving Mei Shin playing outside to take place. However, the conversations and documents found right before then imply quite clearly what really happened:He found his daughter dead in the bathtub.
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  • Ambiguous Situation: It's up to interpretation what happens to Hueh, whose last chronological reference is her failing to answer a call from Feng Yu. Depending how you see it, either she was arrested by the police for running a vicious Scam Religion, or successfully ran away with all the money she got from her victims.
  • Animal Motifs:
    • Snake, whose blood is supposed to create medicinal wine. Could also be understood metaphorically, as the cult whose worship involves a holy snake is what poisoned the family.
    • The Arowana fish that Feng Yu keeps in the tank has dual meaning:
      • It's a large fish locked in a tiny tank that leaves it no room to move, much like Mei Shin is locked in the apartment on the account of her illness.
      • In real life, Arowanas were fairly expensive at the time, and often associated with gambling houses, showing Feng Yu's poor financial sense and spending habits.
  • Apocalyptic Logs: Mei Shin's school reports and journal entries are eventually revealed to be this, with the last one made shortly before she went to the ritual that killed her.
  • Big Bad : Mentor Heuh and arguably You.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Much of the game is well translated for people who don't speak Mandarin, but there is some writing left untranslated. One example is a writing on the wall that reads "Why won't you open your eyes?"
    • Another occurrence is when the distorted television repeats Mei Shin's score of 88, where it's read as "ba-ba" as opposed to the previously "ba-shi-liu" (86) and "ba-shi-qi" (87). "Ba-ba" sounds very similar to "daddy" in Chinese.
  • But Thou Must!: During the Vision Quest sequence, Feng Yu comes across two doors, one of which is barred off. Should he attempts to open it, Mentor Heuh will tells Feng Yu that when Cigu Guanyin blocks off one path, it's to lead him to a better one. No points for guessing what happened next.
  • Blood Bath: You enter the Hub Level by climbing out of a bath filled with suspicious red liquid. Given the revelations at the end, it might actually be wine.
  • Body Motifs:
    • Hands. The game begins with you staring at your hands in disbelief, and whenever the point of view changes between Mei Shin and Feng Yu, it's always marked by looking at the hands.
    • Eyes, particularly in the 1986 room. After you play the record, the lights change to moving eyes, and Li Fang's eyes are painted over in the portraits. In addition, Cigu Guanyin has four eyes, and a pair of stylized eyes is used as the game's autosave icon.
  • Breather Episode: The end of the 1985 room is perhaps the only genuinely happy moment in the game, and comes right before the horrid conclusion.
  • Brutal Honesty: During the game, its revealed that Gong Li Fang called a late night relationship radio show to ask for advice about how to save her marriage to Feng Yu. Instead of giving her encouraging advice, he told her it's hard to change a person and she should accept that the relationship may be over. Her final called to the show, is her accepting this advice and agreeing to leave her husband to go back into show business.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: After reaching the Hub Level, you're told that by completing the three "time period" rooms you can unlock the door leading to "the flawless present". "The flawless present" exists only as a Fantasy Sequence in Feng Yu's head, and shortly after reaching it, he remembers what really happened.
  • Central Theme: As the title indicates, "devotion", both the devotion between family members and religious devotion.
  • Church of Happyology: The cult of Cigu Guanyin claims that prayer (and money) can resolve all issues, whether health- or life-related. It's all one big scam.
  • Creepy Doll:
    • Mei Shin is often symbolized by a ceramic doll that teleports around the house.
    • An early section of the game is filled with wooden dolls representing various scenes of Li Fang and Feng Yu's daily life.
  • Daddy's Girl: Mei Shin is much closer to her father than her mother. Played for Drama.
  • Daydream Surprise: Eventually, we learn that the opening sequence, which we come back to near the end, is Feng Yu's imaginary "flawless present", where Li Fang approves of the mentor and stays at home, Mei Shin is a quiet and dutiful child, and he himself can watch her performance on TV over and over.
  • Demonic Possession: Near the end, Feng Yu grew convinced that his daughter's mental illness is the result of evil taking hold of her soul, and believes that the same causes his wife to act out against him. His attempts to exorcise Mei Shin ultimately kill her.
  • Deranged Animation: In the sequence showing Mei Shin's panic attack, there are such wonders as people transforming into demons with melting faces and endless classrooms.
  • Domestic Abuse: Between Li Fang and Feng Yu. As Feng Yu's career fell into shambles and he became more dependent on Mentor Hueh's cult, he became resentful of Li Fang's attempts to be the breadwinner and her distrust of the cult. Snippets of the game show them arguing, him listening in on her phone call, and it's implied he stole and ripped up her iconic dress from when she was a star. He even accuses her of being possessed by something malicious, contributing to his view of her as a hostile phantom in-game.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Devotion" has several meanings in the context of the game.
    • The devotion to the family, which caused Li Fang to abandon her acting career and remain even long after things became bad.
    • Devotion to a child, and the way it can go horribly wrong when the parent is convinced they know what's best. Feng Yu angrily refuses to have Mei Shin see a psychiatrist when the hospital suggests it because he thinks they view his daughter as a lunatic, an action that leads to him to perform the ritual that kills her.
    • Religious devotion, with mentor Heuh, Cigu Guanyin and the ritual that ultimately kills Mei Shin.
    • And finally, a child's devotion to a parent. Mei Shin, did everything Feng Yu asked of her out of love, even after she found a way to control her health issues, but didn't say anything about it. This leads to her tragic death.
  • Downer Ending: The game concludes on The Reveal that not only is Cigu Guanyin a Scam Religion, but that its "teachings" drove Feng Yu to try a dangerous "cleansing ritual" on Mei Shin in a belief that it would fix her, but which actually leads to her death. The final scene is Feng Yu sitting in his now ravaged home, completely broken and alone.
  • Driving Question: Where is Mei Shin?
  • Education Papa: Feng Yu pushes Mei Shin hard to have a career in show business like her parents, eventually denying her school trips so that she can focus on practice. This did NOT help her anxiety issues.
  • Endless Corridor: Two in quick succession.
    • When attempting to reach the door to flawless present, whenever the light blinks, you will be teleported back to the start, making the trip effectively endless.
    • Shortly afterwards, when the ghost is pursuing you, you keep running through the set of the same looping corridors, over and over. The trick here is to go through all the doors at least once - the final door will lead you to the elevator.
  • Evolving Title Screen: As you progress, the title screen goes from a bright cheery apartment into a dark depressing one in the end. If you wait long enough in the title screen after finishing the game there will be someone knocking on the door, many speculate this to be Gong Li Fang returning to take Mei Shin away from Feng Yu. Ouch.
  • Eye Scream: The Vision Quest near the end involves Feng Yu pulling his own eyeball out as an offering to Cigu Guanyin. In first person. What joy!
  • Family Versus Career: After marrying Feng Yu, Li Fang retreated from show business in order to take care of her family. Unfortunately, this is where the troubles begun.
  • Flower Motifs: Yellow tulips have a strong presence in the game, mostly symbolizing Mei Shin herself, who is most often pictured in yellow dress. As Feng Yu's mirror reflection during the ritual notes, a small flower cannot be forced to grow large, as it's unable to support itself - a clear metaphor for what Feng Yu did to his daughter. Taking it further, the bathroom, where Mei Shin died, has a stained glass showing a yellow tulip on the door.
  • Follow in My Footsteps: Feng Yu and Li Fang groom Mei Shin to become a singer - an ambition she, fortunately, shares.
  • Foreshadowing: Tons.
    • The bathroom door is locked in most iterations of the apartment. Feng Yu left Mei Shin there for seven days to "cure" her, with explicit instructions that he mustn't open it.
    • About two-thirds of the way in, you see a scene of an adult compelling a girl to jump into a pit of dead snakes. It's a more allegorical retelling of Mei Shin's final fate.
    • The scene where you can see a statue of a god behind the family portrait foreshadows the way Feng Yu's worship of Cigu Guanyin eventually overshadowed the family bonds between them.
    • The "Protracted Illness" screenplay shows Feng Yu's later decision to take Mei Shin to a spiritual "healer" instead of a real doctor.
    • Upon entering the Hub Level, you rise from a bathtub filled with red liquid, likely mirroring what happened with Mei Shin in the end.
    • When you see a note on the door of Mei Shin's room that tell you to wash your hands before you enter, you head to the bathroom to do so. Your hands become stained with what is most likely blood that won't come off, indicating that Feng Yu has unwittingly murdered his daughter during the cleansing ritual.
    • In the present day apartment, the door that leads to the bathroom and bedrooms are blocked off. The rooms behind the blocked doorway contains everything that Feng Yu is trying to forget. Especially the bathroom which may or may not still containing Mei Shin's corpse that never left.
  • Four Is Death: In two instances.
    • The fourth character introduced into the story is Mentor Heuh, who gets Mei Shin killed.
    • There are four doors in the Hub Level. Three lead to the past events, while the fourth is supposed to get you to the "flawless present", while in reality Mei Shin is dead in the present day. Also, your attempt to reach the door is the only time you can die in the game.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Its implied throughout the game that Feng Yu was jealous of Gong Li Fang's success as a film star after they were married and guilt tripped her into giving it up to be a traditional wife, something she willfully did, until things started to go wrong.
  • Giftedly Bad: Feng Yu is a zig-zagged case. On one hand, the family has a shelf of screenwriting trophies when they move in, suggesting that he used to be really good. However, by the time(s) we explore the house, there's a letter from his friend saying that six directors refused his script, and the one film that did get made was critically panned. Nonetheless, he keeps writing scripts, enough that when Mei Shin starts turning them into origami, she has enough to fill the whole room with paper flowers.
  • Housewife: What Feng Yu wants his wife to be, despite the fact that his career is in shambles and her returning to work is the only way they could possibly make ends meet.
  • Hub Level: A third of the way into the game, you reach a corridor that leads to three open doors labeled "1980", "1985", "1986", each showing the house on a particular day in each respective year, and a fourth locked door that is supposed to lead to the "flawless present". You must complete the stories of all three days to open it, though you can tackled them in any order.
  • Leitmotif: The Lady On The Pier, identified as the main theme of Li Fang's breakout movie, appears several times as the piece Mei Shin sings for the contest she takes part in.
  • Ill Girl: Mei Shin was sickly as a child, with an entire section of the game devoted to her stay in a hospital.
  • The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: During the trip to your yuan shen, you have to walk down a corridor with mirror on one side. The reflection starts talking to you, mocking the way Li Fang tried to keep the family together and how the two of you ended up breaking Mei Shin by trying to put too much responsibility on her - all through a flower metaphor. He ends up encouraging you to keep going, although it's hard to tell if he mocks you or genuinely thinks you can still save Mei Shin.
  • I Miss Mom: Mei Shin says this after Li Fang leaves her husband to return to work.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Discussed, and ultimately defied. Mei Shin is a scared little girl, but because of the social stigma associated with mental illness, her father gets furious when the hospital refers her to a psychiatrist, screaming that his daughter "is not a lunatic" and tearing her medical report into shreds. This has tragic consequences.
  • Jump Scare: While the game prefers slow burn horror, it does jumpscare you on occasions.
    • One of them is particularly jarring. In the 1985 apartment, you are supposed to be jumpscared by the ghost of Li Fang while heading to the right wing of the house. However, either by design of due to a bug, the jumpscare may not happen the first time the player passes through but rather after, including after every puzzle has been solved already. This could cause some player to be jumpscared completely out of the blue while thinking they are walking through a "solved" section of the game, which everyone will inevitably assume to be safe because every other scare in the game is obviously scripted and does not happen randomly.
  • Mundanger: For all the bizarre supernatural horrors such as possessed mannequins, spirits in hell, and a vengeful phantom woman, the only real horror is Feng Yu killing his daughter in a delusional attempt to save her after destroying his family.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: The TV occasionally glitches out, either repeating part of the broadcast over and over, showering the screen with white noise, or switching to show something... ominous, which, in contrast to everything else on TV, seems to be in-game.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: The message from the hospital staff cuts off just before they write what treatment they recommend for Mei Shin. Near the end of the game, you see the message again, complete, showing that they recommended psychiatric treatment, sending Feng Yu into blind rage that they'd dare label his daughter "a lunatic".
  • Only Sane Woman: Li Fang is the only one to realize that mentor Heuh is untrustworthy, but she cannot convince her husband or her daughter of it.
  • Nervous Wreck: Played for Drama. Her parent's constant arguments caused Mei Shin to develop what's most likely panic disorder.
  • Nightmare Sequence: A cutscene near the end of the game shows one of Mei Shin's panic attacks in first person, and it's not pleasant.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Feng Yu's wife is named Gong Li Fang, and was a famous Taiwanese actress and singer. There is a real life Chinese actress superstar of the 80s and 90s named Gong Li with a similar name, though Gong Li Fang in the game looks different than the real life actress.
  • No Medication for Me: Played for Drama. At one point, Mei Shin grows so tired of the pills doctors prescribe her, she throws them all into the fish tank, killing the arowana. Later, Feng Yu decides that he'll no longer take her to doctors after a diagnosis recommends Mei Shin psychiatrist treatment, leading to her death shortly thereafter as he tries out a fake "religious" ritual instead.
  • Percussive Maintenance: In one of the game's very rare amusing moments, at one point you have to smack the TV several times to get rid of the Ominous Visual Glitches.
  • Phony Psychic: Mentor Heuh, a woman to whom Feng Yu looks to for guidance when searching for a cure to Mei Shin's "curse". Late in the game, when Feng Yu puts a tape in a tape recorder, it's revealed that she's conned several people before him, with the last recording being between her and a furious man whose father has refused chemotherapy because of her and died from cancer as a result. Heuh has also told Feng Yu to put his daughter in a bathtub filled with snake wine for a week, leading to her death. In the last time he called her, she failed to pick up the phone, which either meant she was arrested by the police or has managed to skip town with her ill-gotten money.
  • Poor Communication Kills: In Mei Shin's final journal entry, we learn that she found a way to calm herself and push back her panic attacks - by folding paper flowers until she calms down - and believes she no longer requires Mentor Heuh's treatments. However, she decides not to tell her father about that, as she knows how important Cigu Guanyin is to him, and goes with Heuh's "cleansing" ritual. This ultimately kills her.
  • Psychological Horror: It's saying something when being chased by a furious ghost is the least scary part of the game.
  • Reality Subtext: An in-universe case. Throughout the game, you find pages of Feng Yu's scripts. It quickly becomes apparent that he's taking the events of his life and filing the serial numbers off.
  • Rule of Three: The three rooms in the Hub Level, representing three moments from the past, as well as the three family members - 1980 for Feng Yu, 1985 for Mei Shin and 1986 for Li Fang. The three crests you get by completing each room have their respective member carved into them as well.
  • Scam Religion: The cult of Cigu Guanyin is just a way for Hueh to make money of gullible people. Not only is it useless as help, it's also actively dangerous, and killed at least two confirmed people by consequence, one being Mei Shin.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Li Fang ends up leaving her husband to restart her acting career, intending to take her daughter away as well as soon as she has the money. Unfortunately, Mei Shin dies before that happens.
  • Show Within a Show:
    • A significant chunk of the plot is devoted to Rainbow Star Stage, a singing show in which Mei Shin competed.
    • A late-night romantic advice radio show that appears a few times provides more context to the relationship between Feng Yu and Li Fang.
  • Shrinking Violet: Mei Shin is very shy and has severe anxiety issues, which is why the singing career her parents push on her causes her panic attacks.
  • Slave to PR: At one point, after things start getting really bad, you find a letter to Li Fang from her mother, where she implores her that she stay with her - at this point, definitely abusive - husband, claiming that leaving will be bad for her career.
  • Soap Opera Disease: Mei Shin is ill with something that causes her to feel chest tightness and have difficulties breathing, but the doctors are unable to find anything wrong with her. That's because her issues are psychological - she's suffering from anxiety and panic attacks, something that does get her recommendation to psychiatrist treatment. Unfortunately, with mental disorders being a huge taboo in the culture at the time, she doesn't receive proper treatment.
  • Starving Artist: Feng Yu is a screenwriter, but it seems that after a slew of critical darlings in his youth, he was either unable to move on with the times or lost his talent, leading to the family's finances - and his relationship with his wife - suffering.
  • Stinger: After the credits, Devotion leaves you with the scene of Feng Yu, seen from the back, watching the white noise on the TV in a dark apartment. This could be what's really happening during the sequence that opens the game.
  • Story Breadcrumbs:
    • There's a veritable book's worth of reading material in the game, in form of Feng Yu's script pages, Mei Shin's school reports, and several letters from other people, as well as a number of tales and articles to help foreign players understand the cultural context the game operates in.
    • Late in the game, you also find a tape containing conveniently cut-up and arranged pieces of Heuh's interviews with her clients, which you can listen to through a recorder in the very next room.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: One menaces you at several points throughout the game. It likely represents Feng Yu's thoughts on his wife when the cult took over his life.
  • Symbolic Mutilation: The ritual ends with it as Feng Yu tries to appeal to Cigu Guanyin for his daughter's well-being, scooping out his eye to give her clear sight, cutting out his tongue to restore her singing voice, and shedding his blood to make her healthier. It's unclear how much of it actually happens, as afterwards, he seems still able to speak and see fine. The document found later implies that only blood-letting was real.
  • There Are No Therapists: Downplayed. The hospital diagnosed and recommended Mei Shin seeing a psychiatrist due to her anxiety and panic attacks. Unfortunately, the common stigma of mental illness in the culture leads to Feng Yu refusing to comply and do something far more dangerous to 'cure' her, resulting in her death.
  • Tongue Trauma: The ritual that's supposed to restore Mei Shin's health involves cutting out your own tongue.
  • Tragic Villain: Though the two ghostly presences that menace you throughout the game, Mei Shin and Feng Yu, seem scary, it eventually turns out that it's Feng Yu's fault they're like this.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change:
    • In the scene where you read Mei Shin a bedtime story, the game switches to a 2D puzzle-platformer for a moment.
    • When you attempt to reach the flawless present, the chase sequence has real stakes - if Li Fang's ghost catches you, you have to start it over, unlike all other times.
  • Villain Protagonist: The player gradually learns that the person they're playing as, Du Feng Yu, is the reason that Mei Shin is "missing" as he, in his blind faith to his religion, made her partake in a dangerous religious ritual that led to her death to cure her "illness". Since you spend the whole game trying to get to the "flawless present" by looking back through Feng Yu's memories, it can be interpreted that the game is his attempt at staying in denial about this fact and convincing himself that his mistakes saved their daughter and kept Li Fang from leaving him.
  • Vision Quest: The game's penultimate sequence has Feng Yu undertake a ritual to find Mei Shin's soul and fix it by making offerings to Cigu Guanyin, which takes him through Buddhist Hell.
  • Write What You Know: Deconstructed. Feng Yu's screenplays are very clearly meant to be about an idealized depiction of his own family, which he increasingly emphasizes as his situation deteriorates. This is implied to be why studios eventually grow sick of him, and consequently what causes the financial troubles for the family.
  • Xenofiction: One sequence shows a significant day in Mei Shin's life through the eyes of the family's pet fish.


Example of: