The Fractured Self

Dear Insane Children, 

While I’m doing boat work in paradise our efforts on Asylum continue. This morning I had an exchange with both Omri and Joey regarding what might become the 2nd most important character in Asylum, Shadow Alice. 

Omri wrote to me with the image (above) of Lizzie as one of Alice’s primary (or perhaps THE primary enemy). I wrote back to talk a bit about how that might work in relation to Alice’s true enemy being Shadow Alice. Here’s what I sent him along with the note I sent to Joey detailing Shadow Alice… 

First, let’s try to keep in mind that our main character in the game is 13 years old. Many of the images we’ve seen in pre-production seem to show her looking a little bit (or a lot) older. To show the contrast between normal Alice and her shadow… let’s be sure to show normal Alice looking young, innocent, hurt, and scared. Shadow Alice can look a little more grown up – dark, bitter, angry, vengeful, and ready to scream, fight, and do damage. Normal Alice should look like she needs her mother or that she wants to run away. Shadow Alice won’t back down, is looking for a fight, and is probably a bit deranged. 

The next thing… we need to think about what the “shadow self” is to Alice. This is the aspect of our personality which we deny, which frightens us, which we hide from ourselves and from others. It’s the dark side of us which we heard whispering in our ear to harm other people (for harming us), to lie (because no one will find out)… but the main thing is that this is the side of us we are embarrassed to admit to ourselves or other people exists. We tell ourselves we are nice, honest, pure, and sweet… and we hope other people see us that way as well. But then we have dark thoughts related to life – to power, violence, sex, etc. Those thoughts, that side of us we don’t want to face or admit, is our shadow self. 

Now… many psychologists and therapists believe that we are not whole or complete until we face our shadow self and accept it. To be complete we must integrate the shadow self. In some cases that might also mean allowing some of the shadow self’s impulses to be expressed. Maybe you’re always nice at work… but on the inside, you want to yell at other people for being lazy and worthless. Embracing the shadow self would mean you stop pretending to be nice – you stop worrying about hiding the shadow self – and you raise your voice, yell, and show emotion when others are being lazy and worthless at work.

For Alice… she’s a 13-year-old girl who has always viewed herself as sweet, innocent, harmless, and good. But like all children who are transitioning to adults, she’s having confusing thoughts about life, existence, morality, mortality, sexuality, and other topics. She’s barely aware of some of the darker questions of existence… she’s in no way prepared spiritually, intellectually, or physically to answer them.

After the violent and horrible death of her family, she’s forced to confront Chaos. She’s forced to confront the painful nature of reality – one in which people she loved died screaming in a fire while she was unable to do anything to save them.

Shadow Alice comes from a place ruled by Chaos. She’s not bothered by the family’s death. Their death is her freedom. She can spread her wings now – take control and exert her desires and will on Alice’s psyche. All of Alice’s dark impulses can be set loose – without parents, there are no rules, no chores, no school, no manners, no concept of acceptable behavior. Shadow Alice is the rawest form of every teenage kid angry at the world and no longer worried about consequences. She can say, do, and be anything she wants – even if that path is short, violent, and ultimately pointless. 

These two sides of Alice’s personality will have to merge if she’s going to move forward, survive the asylum, and be ready for the coming battle. Shadow Alice has nothing on normal Alice’s logic, reason, and rationality. But normal Alice wouldn’t stand a chance in a fistfight with Shadow Alice. If either one of them “wins” alone they both lose. If they are able to merge their best elements and discard the worst – then she has a chance. 

It will be fascinating to see what Omri and Joey produce in their efforts to illustrate Shadow Alice as a living, breathing, terror-inducing character. 

And it all started so pleasantly… 

That Omri’s “family portrait” illustration he’s been working on – his idea is that we offer this to Patrons along with a frame (and sans the Asylum logo) so that you all can have the Liddell family in your home. What do you think? 

We also have Alex helping with the Asylum wiki – working with Magus to improve the artistic presentation of our design portal. If you’ve not yet had a browse of the content there, check it out! 

More art, narrative, and design stuff in the pipe and coming soon… 

From Thailand in the Sun, 


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