I arrived in Westworld via train, of course. The folks around me talked about science and religion. Already I was unsure who was real and who was just part of the game. I had no money in my pockets, but felt compelled to go to the saloon. SOMETHING drew me there. Like a little internal map or a voice in my head giving me the objective. Of course as soon as I walk in there a gentleman recognizes me. He seems to be the reason I'm here. I of course have no idea what's going on yet, but he recognizes me. He starts on his path towards his horse, chit-chatting with me as we go... obviously it's all scripted events but I'm impressed with how natural it feels.
I noticed some random guy over by the train station who kept falling down. I found myself distracted by this, so I had over. My guide is upset that I'm taking time away from our current objective but I can't help but want to watch this drunken fool. I mean I know that he's all ones and zeroes. But I'm impressed by how well the AI sells it. I mean this technology is nearly a decade old now, and it's coded believably. As are my surroundings. Everything still looks and sounds fantastic. (I'm not sure what - if anything - has been cleaned up via backwards compatibility on the Xbox One. But if a 360 game could look this good in 2010, it almost makes me wonder just how much the hardware was able to get out of Grand Theft Auto V).
Anyway, my guide brings me to a stronghold and leaves me with just my gun and my horse. I try to play it cool, but I'm shot. I have seemingly no option here. No control over my actions. This HAS to happen. It's all part of the game. I'm told that I've passed the mission by doing nothing - but getting shot! It's supposed to happen this way, which is why a moment later I'm up out of bed, walking, looking for my hat. It's just a game. The blood's not real.
Paying off my $15 medical bill debt was fairly easy as there's no shortage of things to do here at Westworld. Surely there's the old Disney approach of packing every inch of the world with detail. It's as if everything here is interactive. Everything is part of 'the show.' So I helped Bonnie tend to her farm. Mostly we shot some coyotes who were trying to eat the chickens. And I escorted her around. She said that she just enjoyed the company, but I can't help but feel like she was programmed to convince me to accompany her so as to be some sort of... tutorial, easing me into Westworld. Hmm.
I took a ride down to Armadillo and met up with the sheriff to see if he could use some help. I mean, obviously he doesn't need my help since this is a all just a big game. But in my fantasy I'm a gun for hire, and he's doing the hiring. And so we've done a few jobs together. I wonder if the horses are robots as well? Because I'm a cowboy, and on a STEEL horse I ride. I don't think there's a Turing Test for horses, though.
With the money I earned from the sheriff I went and played some poker and came up with enough to rent a room above the saloon. It seems convenient considering this is a hedonistic vacation. I suppose I'll continue on this trip in the sort of pre-scripted 'story' that these robots have to tell. Although I get the feeling that if I were to just jump on my horse and pick a direction I'd be fascinated by whatever I happened upon.
If there's one thing that I don't care for in Rockstar's games it's trying to drive and shoot at the same time. My brain just really struggles with it. Luckily for me, the robot marauders will just let me try again. They have no problem resetting and repeating their lines. They just shrug it off as part of their job. So, after several attempts and a dead robo-horse, I managed to get the snake oil salesman back to Armadillo to see the doctor.
I had some time, so I took a ride back to Bonnie's ranch. She started asking me about my past, so I made up some stuff on the spot. Things about my past - my parents leaving me; my days running with a bad crew; my family being in peril. I think I laid it on rather thick in an attempt at my own impromptu Voight-Kampff test, y'know? There's a part of me that wants to see if I can break these Replicants. She simply told me that she was sorry for my difficult life, but asked if I could help her with some chores around the farm. I don't know if this is a function her programming, or if her self-aware artificial intelligence is just a bit callous. Or maybe she was changing the subject for my own benefit. Sometimes I'm not sure which one of us is playing the game here.
Bonnie wants me to help with the farm - again. I thought this was a vacation. I thought I could do whatever I wanted. I'm starting to feel weird. Like, I don't even remember much about before I got here. I know I have memories of a wife and child, but yet I can't remember what they look like. I'm starting to get freaked out. What if I was created for the sole purpose of working on Bonnie's farm? What if my feeling of free will is just an illusion? What if these memories of a pre-Westworld life have been implanted? I feel like I need to get out of here. I need to get off the grid; need to avoid Bonnie and any other alphabetic characters that pop up on my map. It's the only way I can know for sure. But if I am what I think I am, then they'll be sending someone to retire me.
I left MacFarlane's Ranch. All the busy work that Bonnie gave me, it was as if she was sent back in time by Skynet to divert my attention. Or something. I felt it was time to leave this vacation. Enough was enough. If I my life really was the life that I remembered - if I was really human - then I just needed to get the fuck out of Westworld. So I hopped on my horse and headed down the train tracks until I came to a stop. And there it was - the end of the line. The bridge was out. Did you ever see Cabin In The Woods? It was just like that. It looked like nature, and yet a strange technology kept me from advancing any further. It was just a weird invisible boundary. I felt trapped.
Then it hit me. I arrived in Westworld via train so I might as well leave the same way. I boarded the train and felt a bit of relief as I watched the scenery change. But what's this? I'm back at MacFarlane Ranch. Again and again. I can't leave. This is Groundhog Day. I can not leave.
Or maybe it's The Truman Show. I spoke aloud, "Alexa, play the Westworld soundtrack on Spotify," and suddenly I heard music. A player piano began a melody that I remembered from my youth. Or at least the youth that I thought I knew. I hummed along, "black hole sun... won't you come... and wash away the rain..." Truly, the future was now.
I thought I should just go to another town and start a new life. If I'm stuck here then I must live out my remaining days in a new life. One that I've created. I can start from scratch and be whoever I want to be. But I'll need money. So I went to a saloon and started to play blackjack. I did this for an hour - no lie. I became obsessed. Eventually I had raised almost $600, which in cowboy times seems like a lot of money, right? At least enough to pay for some new bed. I avoided alcohol, because what's the point? Same with the women - a waste of money.
But then something hit me. While gambling away with two strangers for an hour, the rain started to come down. I looked around the saloon at the strange faces and wondered if any of them might be here to retire me. I sat there, gambling with - I don't even know. Were they human? And I thought to myself:
I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
I left the card table and hopped on my horse. Suddenly I felt like I had nothing to lose. Worse, I felt I had nothing to gain. I went full on chaotic. I picked a direction and started running on my horse shooting anyone I saw without thinking. This wasn't me. But it made sense. This world wasn't real. These weren't real people. They were coded. They would all reawaken tomorrow and live the same world over again. They'd recite the same lines over again. It wouldn't even matter.
I ran until I saw the ocean and let myself plunge in. If I really am just circuits and chips then surely this would end me. At least I'd know one way or the other.
I awake again the next morning as good as new. I opened the door and everything looked just like it had the day before. I opened my map and saw that Bonnie was still awaiting my arrival.