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Video Game / Ether One

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Ether One is a first-person Indie Puzzle Game, released in April 2014. You play as the unnamed Restorer at the Ether Institute, a futuristic mental health clinic. Your job is to heal dementia in patients by immersing yourself into the patientsí subconscious in order to find the source of the illness and eradicate it.

The game is set in the small English mining town of Pinwheel, as remembered by Jean Thornton, a retired schoolteacher and the Restorer's current patient. You restore the patientís memories by exploring the town in first person, collecting red ribbons that represent lost memory fragments, which bring you closer to the patientís "core memory." You can also restore 20 broken projectors by solving puzzles of occasionally maddening difficulty to bring the town back in line with the patientís memories of it. Meanwhile your coworker Phyllis reminds you in voice over that the Insitute is in danger of shutting down if you donít get some results, and a mistake on your part could render the patientís condition irreparable. No pressure...

Needs More Tropes.

Ether One provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Ambiguous Situation: The ultimate cause of the mine catastrophe. The mine warden was poisoned when an arsenic tablet was used instead of a cleaning tablet in his coffee machine. A bottle of arsenic tablets is found in the locker of a miner who was denied time off, implying that he did it in an act of revenge — but the entire scenario is a memory recreation of someone who was not there, meaning that it might just be an assumption. Also found in the mine area is a note from someone who complained that they almost mistook a bottle of arsenic tablets for coffee filter cleaning tablets, implying that the switch could have been accidental.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The current date is never mentioned, the Ether Institute uses technology from 20 Minutes into the Future that Dr Edmonds calls "a miracle of the twentieth century," and the patient, born in 1945, has advanced dementia. Try doing that math.
    • An eventual reveal makes the working out time period less complicated: the "technology" is an invention of the patient's mind, so the setting need not be 20 Minutes into the Future.
  • Arc Words: "What the mind thinks, the heart transmits."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Thomas manages to remember his past, which helps him remember who he is. But he also has to remember that his wife, Jean, died some time ago. The epilogue from restoring all 20 projectors adds a bit more sweetness to it: Thomas, apparently more lucid than he had been, spends a little bit of time fondly reminiscing on his past in the care home where he has been receiving treatment before leaving to live in the care of his son, Jim.
  • Book Ends: The game kicks off with Phyllis asking the player sit in the armchair-like seat of the rembrant device, followed by a cutscene of an elaborate start-up sequence lowering the Restorer into position. At the end of the game, after restoring the lighthouse, Jean asks Thomas to sit in an armchair. The armchair slowly rises as Phyllis and Thomas complete a therapy session.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: A note found early in-game indicates that Jean ended up marrying a close friend from her childhood. It's you.
  • Dead All Along: Jean
  • 100% Completion: Restoring all 20 projectors will take some time and has a couple debatable Guide Dang It! puzzles, but it gains you a hidden ending. Plus there are the nine Knocker statues...
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: Exaggerated. Thereís no inventory to speak of: you can only carry one item around, and the rest needs to be stored on the shelves of the Case, with no way to check just how much you have stored in there.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: The entire premise of the game: cutting edge technology allows a "restorer" to enter the mind of a dementia patient in an effort to fight back against the neural degredation. In reality, it's a journey to the center of the player character's own mind, with the technology premise being their mind's way of coping with the confusion brought upon by their dementia.
  • Lighthouse Point: Paintings of lighthouses appear throughout the game, and the lighthouse visible from most of the other levels is the final stage of the game.
  • A Light in the Distance: A recurring visual theme, between the lighthouse paintings, the actual lighthouse, turning on lights in the mines, puzzles involving following lit-up canary cages and code-revealing blacklights, and the Artefact ( a miner's lantern).
  • Mission Control: Dr. Phyllis Edmonds, who gives instruction and direction, and who also expresses frequent impatience and whose main interest seems to be proving the viability of the mind-projection technology to avoid losing funding. This turns out to be Thomas's mental reinterpretation of the real Dr. Edmonds, who proves to be a much more sympathetic character actually interested in helping Thomas.
  • Missing Mom: Through notes found within the patient's memory, you learn that one character's mother walked out on her family. That would be your mother, who could no longer handle living with your drunkard father.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Used to travel between each location.
  • Once More, with Clarity:
    • The finale leads the protagonist through parts of previous levels, which have gained more meaning after the reveal.
    • The Playable Epilogue obtained by getting 100% Completion lets you explore the care home that the Case was modeled on, and read notes that show the employees' view of the player's actions during the game.
  • Power Glows: The Artefact glows brightly when used, and gives the Restorer Volcanic Veins.
  • Scatterbrained Senior: The patient whose mind is being explored. The game treats this with a serious tone, as throughout it you find snippets of information detailing the difficulties of living with a deteriorating memory.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Apparently the warden of the local mine was poisoned (nonfatallay, but with disastrous consequences) when someone used arsenic tablets instead of cleaning filter cleaning tablets in the coffee machine. This may or may not have been accidental; a note indicates that the similar bottles for each item had caused confusion amongst the miners, but some circumstancial evidence also hints that a disgruntled worker may have made the switch intentionally.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Ties in with the Twist Ending: you are Thomas Fletcher, the husband of Jean Fletcher, and it is your mind that you are attempting to restore.
  • Twist Ending: A big one, but it creeps up on you slowly: you're not in Jean's mind, but that of her husband Thomas Fletcher; there is no Ether Institute, and no Restorer; you are in fact Thomas himself, struggling inside his own mind to restore his fragmented memory, while the very patient Dr Phyllis Edmonds works from the outside, showing you items from your past that manifest as the "Projectors."
  • Solve the Soup Cans: Many optional puzzles fall into this category. Of course, youíre in the mind of a person with dementia, but stillÖ
  • Volcanic Veins: The restorer gains these when using the power of the Artefact.