This is a guest post and does not represent the views of CheckPoint.
Over the last few days I played a Visual Novel named „One Thousand Lies“. Developed by Keinart Lobre and released in March 2016. Before I move on, I want to give a big spoiler warning! Everything I mention from here on out. While partly being my interpretation of what exactly happened (the game leaves some stuff open for that reason), will give away a lot. So if you want to experience the story yourself first, stop reading and go play it. I absolutely recommend it and the game is free on Steam!
Our main character, Ciarán Endyein, is an incessant liar. So much so that his narration even deceives the players during most of the story. We only find out near the end as well as the reason as to why he does it. When he was a child, he had an accident. He remained almost unharmed. Due to the consequences of said accident, he blamed himself for destroying a bunch of people’s lives and future. Ciarán‘s two childhood friends being among them, while he was seen as a victim and not responsible.
This went so far that, shortly after the accident, he snapped and stabbed himself in his leg with a kitchen knife. After some time his leg healed, only leaving behind a scar but his mind never recovered. He continued carrying the guilt and his leg would continue hurting. Especially if he thought or was remembered of the accident. Even though from a physical standpoint it was completely healed. In psychology this is called somatic symptom disorder, or SSD for short. It’s a condition where someone would feel physical pain, while the problem is actually only in one‘s mind.
He transferred school, cutting ties with his former friends. From then on he also kept other people distant by lieing a lot, making a joke out of everything and almost never being serious just to make sure he wouldn’t hurt himself or somebody else ever again. During his high school graduation year though he sees this one girl, Luce, on his way to school and starts developing feelings for her. He also realizes that, whenever he sees or thinks about her, the pain in his leg would disappear. Unable to approach her normally he constructs a plan full of lies so he could get near her, just so he has an easy way out in case he wants to run away again.
This weird plan, together with his past experiences, create so much conflict in himself. This leads to subconsciously creating another person in his mind. A girl his age named Claire. Whenever he doesn’t know if he should keep going, or isn’t sure of what he should do. Claire seemingly appears out of nowhere and helps him realize the answers, he deep down already knew for whatever problem he has. It’s also through her that he places an ultimatum on himself: Whether he should come clean on his lies and take the chance to get close to another person again and potentially risk, to ruin their life at one point. Or like in the past, cut ties with Luce and stay alone.
It’s never completely clear at what point he realizes that Claire isn’t a real person. Or if he does at all. I like to believe that he realized it relatively early on. But needed her as a coping mechanism. The developer did, at least in my opinion, a great job at depicting different ways we are able to deceive not only others but also ourselves or rather our mind, if we are unable to fully deal with reality for some reason. Not just through Ciarán and his mental health issues. While playing the game there were moments when I just went along with what happened, telling myself that it clearly is part of the story, while in my mind I knew that it was off or seemed fake, which is basically confirmed later on.