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Visual Novel / The Fountain

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Not actually a fountain.
The Fountain is a short Kinetic Novel developed by Jeanne Foissard. It was released in 2018 for Windows on itch.io as an entry for the TyranoBuilder Summer Game Jam 2018. The story is best categorized as Magic Realism.
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The Michigan-born Fine Arts student duo of Ethan and Jamie get to spend a year in Rome. While Jamie invests in getting most of her time socially, Ethan becomes obsessed with a peculiar statue of a woman supported by a raging sea. By visiting her daily, he draws the attention of the Old Lady, who knows the statue's story and is only too glad to share it. It depicts Areanna, a wealthy girl who fell in love with a leper, Luca, but had no choice but to marry someone else. She was abused during marriage and thus committed suicide. The statue is her parents' memorial gift to her. Ethan then addresses the statue with her name and it answers him. They talk, Ethan tries to find out whatever he can of Luca's fate for Areanna in the next few days, comes up empty-handed, but does take notice of the pigeons literally always hanging out on Areanna's statue. He realizes this is Luca's doing and his way of reaching out to Areanna. She cautiously agrees, at which point the statue ceases speaking but looks a lot happier than before.

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The Fountain provides examples of:

  • Arranged Marriage: Areanna's parents sought out a husband for her after she made clear she couldn't care about anyone by Luca. Unfortunately and very much unintentionally, they picked an abuser who drove her to suicide.
  • Beast and Beauty: Luca is the beast due to his leprosy-induced injuries, while Areanna is the beauty as one of the most beautiful women in Rome during her lifetime.
  • Childhood Friends: Roughly the first thing one learns about Jamie and Ethan is that they've been good friends since childhood.
  • Curse: Averted. The story goes that Luca cursed the fountain and Areanna's husband in his anger over Areanna's death, but he never did such a thing. All he cared for was that Areanna would finally be happy.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: It's not outright said that Luca has leprosy, but he's got the details used to communicate leprosy.
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  • Driven to Suicide: Areanna jumped off a cliff to escape her abusive husband. Her statue tells Ethan that she regrets her choice and that she wishes she'd fought for her happiness.
  • Epigraph: The game opens with a quote from Ode to Aphrodite by Sappho:
    "I beg you, do not break my spirit, with pain or sorrow, but come — if ever before from far away you heard my voice and listened."
  • The Faceless: The novel is from Ethan's POV and so the boy himself is never shown to the player.
  • Facial Horror: Areanna asks to see Luca's face before they part forever, but he stops her from taking of the bandage because the leprosy already wrecked most of what there is to see. He prefers the sight not to be part of Areanna's memory of him.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Areanna and Luca share this trait. Areanna is kind to all and the only person who treated Luca as a person in the final stages of his disease. Luca shares the few bits of food he has with the city's pigeons, because he knows no one cares about them just like no one cares about him.
  • Homeless Pigeon Person: Luca's most defining trait is his care for the city's pigeons, even when he himself is dying, and the generation-spanning loyalty to him that follows from it.
  • Instant Messenger Pigeon: A spiritual example. The pigeons are the one's Luca fed and their descendents. They are always perched on the statue of Areanna as Luca's means of reaching out to her. However, because pigeons tend to sit on statues anyways, it required Ethan to point out that they literally always were around her and that they were of an unusual breed before Areanna understood Luca's message.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Luca agrees with Areanna's parents that he's no suitable husband for her. Aside from being close to death, he has nothing of material value to offer her. They're from different worlds and she deserves better than he can offer.
  • Living Statue: Areanna's spirit inhabits the statue her parents had made of her in her memory. She can't move, but she can talk and change her facial expression. Once she realizes Luca's undying concern for her, the statue falls silent forever. And where before the statue looked helpless and sad, now it looks proud and happy.
  • Magic Realism: The story is largely set in a world resembling reality, but neither the Old Lady nor Ethan are surprised by the signs the statue is alive.
  • Memorial Statue: The titular fountain was ordered by Areanna's parents following her suicide by jumping into the waves. Unusual for the trope, they arranged it so that there would be no records whom the statue depicted because of the guilt they felt.
  • No Name Given: The Old Lady is only known as such and the name of Areanna's husband isn't given either.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Ethan makes one uncalled-for comment. When Jamie teases him that he's lucky she hasn't made any other friends yet, he shoots back that "[her] friends are lucky to not exist". Ethan brushes it off as just a joke and Jamie lets it slide, but it did dampen the mood of their conversation.
  • Tears from a Stone: Areanna's statue cries when she realizes Luca had his pigeons watch over her when he no longer could.
  • Unfinished Business: The reason Areanna's spirit inhabits the statue is because she thinks she disappointed Luca by not fighting for her happiness. She turns out to be mistaken and that even through death Luca wishes her well. Once she becomes aware, she stops existing through the statue.
  • The Unseen: Martina, the representative of the class Ethan and Jamie attend in Rome, and Emilio, one of Jamie's favorite comic artists, are mentioned but not active in the story.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Luca suffers from leprosy and knows he's only got so much time left before the disease kills him. He's at peace with his lot in life.
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