Tower is the sixteenth chapter of The Beginner's Guide and the last described as a game made by Coda. The Tower is also the sixteenth of the Major Arcana cards in a Tarot deck, symbolizing a sudden breakdown of a previously established process or achievement (see Devil Tower Star).
The very beginning of this map is a small room with modern architecture, but as the player exits it, the rest is revealed to be the entrance to a dark stone tower which, according to Davey, feels "cold and distant". It has a huge red gate at the beginning.
The next room has an invisible maze in it. Every time the player touches one of the invisible walls, they are brought back to the beginning. If narration is disabled, it is extremely difficult to beat this part, so it is recommended to turn the narration on (what makes Davey modify the game and put a bridge over the maze). After climbing some more stairs, the player, in order to get to the next part, needs to guess a 6-digit number (which is 151617), which again is quickly spoiled by the narration by default.
The player now falls into a room with a closed door and no exits (since the switch that opens this door is on the other side) - apparently it is impossible to beat this part with the narration turned off (in the default narration mode, Davey opens the door to the player). The player then climbs several staircases to the seeming end of the tower.
In this last set of rooms and corridors, the style goes back to modern architecture. Now, several messages from Coda to Davey are shown while Davey comments about them in the narration. Coda complains about Davey modifying and showing his games to people - and also about Davey assuming that Coda is depressed because he misinterprets his games. Coda writes that Davey is not his problem to solve and terminates their friendship, mentioning he cannot continue making games as Davey has corrupted his creative space.
It should be obvious that only Davey is meant to see these messages, as normal players would have a very hard time solving the puzzles in this level - not to mention the final door being (apparently) impossible to open without modifying the game (which Davey again does so the player audience can finish the level).
After the walls with Coda's messages (visually similar to Backwards), in a final corridor, there is a door with a switch, supposed to be opened with the same puzzle of previous games, but when the door closes, instead of the second door opening, the walls start closing in as if to crush the player instead, as he stands inside the dark space.
And this is where I have trouble saying anything meaningful about Coda's work, because more than anything else The Tower just feels distant, it feels like it's trying to distance itself from the world. It's a very cold game.
This room actually has a maze in it.
Except that all of the walls of the maze are invisible. And then every time you touch one of the walls there's this awful flashing and noise, so the experience is really miserable. The game goes beyond not being meant to be played, it actually seems to despise the player for trying to play it at all. But I do want to show you the rest of the level so when you're ready to continue, press (Enter/the Use key on your gamepad) and I'll put a bridge over the maze.
And to be fair it's not like this is the first game that's needed some modification to be playable. Like the housecleaning game, you know that one used to actually loop the cleaning chores and you just cleaned a house forever, I had to cut it off so that you could exit the house and the game would actually end. But that game had an idea that it was actually trying to communicate, what's the deeper idea behind the invisible maze?
The only way to past this challenge is to randomly guess the 6-digit code. Like the invisible maze, it's frustrating to me because it's the opposite of everything else that Coda has made, it doesn't encourage thought or engagement, it doesn't ask anything of me except a lot of my time. If I could have reached him during this time then maybe I could have asked him, but I couldn't, I still don't understand why this is here. I'll put the code on the ground here for you so that we can move on.
The switch to open this door is actually on the other side of the door, meaning that it's literally impossible to solve from this side. So even if you somehow brute forced your way through the first two challenges and got to this point, there's actually just no way to progress! And it's scary for me, the idea of Coda cutting himself off entirely, just saying "that's it, that's the end of the conversation," not giving me any way to fix the problem. I feel like a failure I guess, when I can't... fix the problem. But I can open this door for you, so let me do that.
Was I a failure for not understanding this game? I mean I don't know why I would be, it's not like everything needs to have a solution, but I feel it somehow. I feel like I failed, and I don't understand why.
I remember, it's June of 2011, I'm playing this for the very first time, and while I'm playing I'm thinking to myself: I don't know this person. I have no idea who this person is. It wasn't the guy I knew, it wasn't my friend. I had come to so many conclusions from looking at all of his work up until this point, and then suddenly none of them... I had been trying to though, that was the thing. For years I was trying to get to know him, to understand who he actually was and what he stood for. I asked him so many times to please just tell what his games mean to him. I asked him to please tell me what the 3 dots mean. And he wouldn't.
I just felt so strongly that if I could have connected with him, that if I could have somehow made his work my own, that I would finally be once-and-for-all happy. I needed to see myself in someone else. I needed to be someone other than me. But he stopped, and left, and it felt somehow like I had failed.
Where did I screw up?
(after player reaches Coda's first message) I'm the reason that you stopped making games, aren't I? It's because of what I did. I poisoned it for you.
I don't think I ever told you this, but when I took your work and I was showing it to people, it actually felt... It felt as though I were responsible for something important and valuable.
And the people who played them, they treated me like I was important! They really listened and cared about what I had to say. Even though I was showing your work, it was... I felt good about myself. Finally. For a moment, while I had that, I liked myself.
And then you stopped, and I didn't have anything left to show people. And I just had to be with myself. And as soon as that happened there was no feeling at all. Nothing. Less than nothing. What does that mean?
I'm afraid that I did something really stupid because I don't like myself.
That's why I'm releasing this collection of your work, is because I haven't been able to find any other way to reach you. I've tried everything. And... so a part of me has hope, that if I put this compilation out into the world, and if I put my name on it, that maybe enough people will play it so that it will find its way to you, so that I can tell you that...I'm sorry. I know I screwed up. If I apologize to you truly and deeply, will you start making games again? Please, I need to feel okay with myself again, and I always felt okay as long as I had your work to see myself in. I mean, is something wrong with me? Because I know I did an awful thing, and I'm doing it again right now, I'm showing people your work, but I can't stop myself from doing it, that's how badly I need to feel something again, like I'm an addict. There has to be something wrong with me! Can I apologize? What if I tell you I was wrong, will that work, will that fix it? I-I don't know! I don't think it will, but there's nothing else that I can do! Just tell me what you want! I'm...I'm sorry. I'm sorry! Please start making games again, please help me, please give me some of whatever it is that makes you complete, I want whatever that wholeness that you just summoned out of nothing and put into your work, you were complete in some way that I never was. I want- I want to know how to be a good person, I want to know how not to hate myself. Please! I'm fading. And all I want is to know that I'm going to be okay.
Coda's messages to Davey on the walls and Davey's replies, in order, are:
|Coda's messages||Davey's commentary|
|Dear Davey, thank you for your interest in my games. I need to ask you not to speak to me anymore.||I'm the reason that you stopped making games, aren't I? It's because of what I did. I poisoned it for you.|
|I wonder at times whether you think I am making these games for you.||I don't think I ever told you this, but when I took your work and I was showing it to people, it actually felt... It felt as though I were responsible for something important and valuable.|
|You've so infected my personal space that it's possible I did begin to plant solutions in my work somewhere, hidden between games.||And the people who played them, they treated me like I was important! They really listened and cared about what I had to say. Even though I was showing your work, it was... I felt good about myself. Finally. For a moment, while I had that, I liked myself.|
|If there was an answer, a meaning, would it make you any happier?||—|
|Would you stop taking my games and showing them to people against my wishes?||—|
|Giving them something that is not yours to give? Violating the one boundary that keeps me safe?||—|
|Would you stop changing my games? Stop adding lampposts to them?||—|
|Would you simply let them be what they are?||And then you stopped, and I didn't have anything left to show people. And I just had to be with myself. And as soon as that happened there was no feeling at all. Nothing. Less than nothing.|
|When I am around you I feel physically ill.||What does that mean?|
|You desperately need something and I cannot give it to you. I literally do not have it.||—|
|Struggling to come up with new ideas is not making me depressed. Low points are just a part of the process.||—|
|The fact that you think I am frustrated or broken says more about you than about me.||—|
|I realize that this doesn't make sense to you just yet.||—|
|Which is fine, you're not my problem to solve.||—|
|But I do hope that one day it clicks, and that you make peace with this thing you are wrestling.||I'm afraid that I did something really stupid because I don't like myself.|
|And when you finally see what I am talking about.||—|
|don't say anything.||—|
In the game files, the impossible door has an entity name of "impossible_iftheplayerisretarded". What this means is up to debate, but it would seem to indicate that there is actually a solution to be found even with narration turned off.
If the player foregoes the bridge and actually traverses the invisible maze legitimately, the narrator will acknowledge this by saying "Damn." Seen here