There's a lot going on in Paratopic and a lot of theories as to what it all means. Since this is a plot discussion I'll be talking spoilers so go play the game if you haven't, it's like £5 and under an hour.
So what the fuck is going on? Well what we can glean given events that happen in the game and confirmation from one of the devs is that there are 3 characters you play as: The Smuggler, The Birdwatcher and The Assassin and the whole thing revolves around these Tapes.
What is on the tapes we never directly see but here's what we can gather: The tapes are highly controlled contraband given the need to smuggle them and how shady everything is surrounding them, whoever The Assassin works for is trying really hard to cover up all trace of them, they can perhaps be likened to some kind of drug given The Smuggler's neighbour's insistence on getting one claiming she's "starving".
We only see the effects of the tapes, debatably, 3 times. The people we know to have seen them are The Guard, The Neighbour and The Assassin. Despite The Neighbour's face splitting open like a flower and The Guard completely unravelling and disappearing, one of the devs has explicitly stated neither of them died which makes sense since its heavily implied that The Smuggler has given The Neighbour tapes before and the tv displays "Be seeing you, friendo" after The Guard disappears.
When The Assassin puts the tape into the tv after shooting her target in the diner it just rewinds time to when she shot the guy. Assuming these are all the same tapes they display some pretty varied, yet all anomalous, effects. However the guy who hires The Smuggler talks about "giving the dogs some scraps" and how he "put a few extra ones" in the case, implying they be given to The Neighbour as a bribe. That along with some being red and The Neighbour asking for "the juicy one" implies there may well be different kinds of tapes.
So what are the tapes? Well it's loosely implied they have some connection to The Power Company, a shady defunct organisation that used to be huge employers for the area, due to the symbol on the case carrying the tapes being seen on old equipment used by the company. Their absence may explain the state of decay the city is in.
We see remnants of the Power Company's industry in the state park when The Birdwatcher stumbles upon the underground bunker, along with a video by the company that implies they were looking into alternative energy sources, hence the name. We see a lot of bent or leaning metal structures which may imply a huge magnetic force. The gas station employee also mentions strange objects being found in the area that end up being in the museum but he never elaborates on this. The "electric rocks" may also factor in but they seem to have been around long before the Power Company.
The area seems abandoned but is littered with functional cameras, however these are turned off when The Assassin enters the area later in the game for unknown reasons, so the area may still be active in secret. Maybe these cameras have some connection to the tapes. Whether it's being operated by the Power Company or another party is unclear. The Assassin calls the area the "Meat Works" in the 911 call so perhaps it's not the Power Company's property. Maybe the Meat Works and Power Company were the same thing.
The figure following The Smuggler at the gas station looks similar to the figure that kills The Birdwatcher and they don't look human. It's all black, has backwards leg joints, can teleport and has the slenderman effect on cameras. The Birdwatcher's body is found skinless, headless, wrapped around a pole with the arms still twitching so whatever happened to her is clearly supernatural. So what was it? Well the person who hires The Smuggler seems off. He speaks strangely, obsessing over being "professional", and is constantly checking over each shoulder. His face also seems to shift and morph around his head. This could just be an artistic choice but it seems very intentionally odd. Maybe he isn't human.
There's also the symbol of the tower and windmill that's used as the logo for the game, is on the board in the backroom of the diner where the tapes are and in the area next to the tower where The Birdwatcher is killed. It seems to be the logo of the faction that smuggles and presumably sells the tapes and possibly the ones who make them.
The logo seems to be an offshoot of the Power Company's logo now incorporating the windmill, so the windmill seems to have some significance. It's leaning towards the big dome with pylons so perhaps something happened with the magnetism.
The story is also told out of sequence. From what I can glean the timeline goes like this: The Birdwatcher goes to the state park, stumbles upon something she shouldn't have and gets killed by a Figure. The Assassin goes into the area for a "hike" with her gun, the cameras are all disabled and she finds The Birdwatcher's body. She takes her camera and calls the police. The Assassin is then being briefed in the diner on her hit. At the same time The Smuggler is being briefed on his job. He leaves to go to his apartment. The Assassin kills the guy in the diner and every time she watches a tape time rewinds to when she kills the guy. The Smuggler gives a tape to his neighbour and she watches it, her face splitting open. The Smuggler goes to take the tapes across the border and notices a Figure following him. He ends up getting caught by The Guard who watches the tapes. His head becomes a tv and his body unravels into nothing. The tv displays "Be seeing you, friendo" and it ends.
There's some other weirdness; the zodiac and tarot cards in the diner played out like a card game, the dead body on the street being eaten by crows that no one pays attention to, everything the gas station clerk says but I just wanted to run over the main stuff.
TL;DR: The tapes are supernatural contraband that function like a drug. They cause anomalous effects, depending on what kind of tape, but are confirmed not to kill people. They're connected to the Power Company, a shady defunct organisation that was involved in energy. Strange objects and magnetic phenomena occur in the area and the cameras are still functional (except when The Assassin goes there) and these cameras may have connection to the tapes. The area is also called the Meat Works. A supernatural non human Figure is in the area. It kills The Birdwatcher and is potentially following The Smuggler. The man who hired The Smuggler doesn't seem human.
Given the information I've gathered, does anyone have any theories as to what is happening in this world?
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