This is a Spoiler-y continuation of the review for Will Not Let me Go. If you have not read the Spoiler Free review yet, you can find it here.
The following may contain detailed information about the plot and puzzles of Will Not Let me Go. Read at your own risk.
The story of Will Not Let Me Go begins with Fred attending a funeral. He does not realize it is Virginia’s funeral, his wife. In fact, he is almost joyously oblivious to the fact. I mention this so that I may explain what I felt to be the most effective sequence in the piece.
Virginia is sick. Very sick. Has been for days. She calls for you from the bed room, you go to check on her. She’s shaking, burning up, fever hotter than before. She asks for Tylenol. It’s in the kitchen, closer to the couch, where she was laying earlier in the day. You get the Tylenol and take it back to Virginia. But you did not bring water. When you come back with the water the Tylenol is nowhere to be seen. You go back to the kitchen and there it is, sitting on the counter, but you do not remember carrying it back out here.
After finally getting her the Tylenol, you ask Virginia if she needs anything else. “Not to be sick,” she says. You then go back out to the living room to read more of your Tom Clancy novel.
You begin thinking about how it is becoming more difficult to read and focus lately, but are pulled back to the present when you hear Virginia scream. At this point I was mentally preparing myself for Virginia’s death. A death that would be in some part caused by Fred’s condition. But what comes next is much more potent.
You get up and head into your bedroom. Virginia is sitting up in bed, worrying that something must have happened to you when you did not come back with the tissues she asked for and hadn’t been responding to her calls.
Fred doesn’t remember Virginia asking for tissues, because it didn’t happen for you, the player. This moment is brilliant. Stephen Granade manages to get you to experience this loss of time, a missing moment, with Fred, and it is frightening.
I was afraid to write [Will Not Let Me Go] because the subject is so personal and so frightening. My grandfather suffered from dementia. His decline was, for me, the stuff of nightmares. Much of who I am is tied up in mental pursuits and how I use words. Having that leach away is one of my worst fears.Stephen Granade
from “Choices, Structure, and the Story Will Not Let Me Go“
Granade’s fear is present throughout. But so is his love for someone lost. It is Grande’s empathy for is grandfather that puts heart into Will Not Let Me Go. For much of the story Fred is aware of his struggles, even if he can’t always remember them. And he knows his struggles are causing pain to those he loves.
After fretting for over a month, I was told today that I do indeed have cancer. It’s not bad, a low grad carcinoma in the salivary gland. Far less sever than I had been worried about. Surgery should be able take care of it. As much as I have been afraid that I might be dying soon, I was more afraid of the harm my illness and death would cause my wife and daughter. And the daughter my wife is pregnant with, due in a week or so.
I finished Will Not Let Me Go in the morning before I got the call from the doctor with what is ultimately good news, I know cancer is not good news but the prognosis could have been much worse, and I felt every bit of Fred’s helplessness is I read it. This is a work that will stay with me.
A Must Read