I know I'm a few years behind, but I just finished this game, and I feel like the ending... I don't want to say is terrible, but I just don't get it. From the title, you should be able to guess that there are spoilers for the ending of the game. So, don't click if you don't want to be spoiled.
It seems like the writers want me to be sympathetic to the Storyteller, but I just don't get that from what we know of him in the game.
My main problem is with the revelation that he and his friend knowingly decided to mess with people's memories and minds. I just can't wrap my head around how in the ending we were supposed to say: "Yeah, I guess that's OK. He was just misguided."
No. He's pretty much evil, but able to get away with it because we feel bad for his daughter. His daughter and her friend who he, essentially, emotionally and mentally abused, all with the best intentions, I'm sure, using drugs. Because nothing says 'healthy home life' like 'drugged by dad.'
I think the ending would have been much better if he had just been an irredeemable villain and we had to figure out the mystery WITHOUT his help. I figure this couldn't happen because it wouldn't have fit the general tone of Layton games, but it would've been a much more satisfying ending than what we got.
Let's also dispense with the theory: "Well, everyone in town signed up to be brainwashed, so it is OK."
Think about the situation a person has to be in that they agree to have their memory, personality and life history utterly expunged. The Storyteller wasn't hiring local down on the luck actors. He found someone who had a life so desperate, so terrible, that they would willingly erase their very existence for a chance at living in his storybook world. That's ... well, it may not be Evil, but it isn't good.
But, that's not the only problem. The other problem is several of the characters are just not old enough to have signed those consent forms. The two kids you meet in town with puzzles? They might be ten years or older, but either way, they're not legal adults. Either their parents signed them up, essentially condemning these kids to living in a world of lies and denied the real world, or, again, the Storyteller is lying to us.
They avoid giving us an age for Jean and Kira, but Jean at least has memories of being a young girl. Remember, the Storyteller is adamant that people CAN'T be given memories more than ten years old, which is why Espella's memories on the bell tower are known to be true. So, Jean's memories of turning her pet to gold CAN'T be more than 10 years old. She had to be a kid at the time. There's nothing short of EVIL in mind controlling a kid.
This gets worse when you think about the set up to making her think she'd turned her pet into a gold statue. Which is that Jean is Not A Witch, but rather, people stalk around her waiting for her to cast magic, then knock her unconscious due to a medical condition the Storyteller and his friend learned afflicts the people in the region, and which they knowingly continued to expose them to, and then make the "magic" happen around the unconscious people. So, for years, Jean is tormented by thinking she had killed one of the things she loved most in her life.
The entire set up with the Shades causes me to further think that the Storyteller can't just get off like nothing happened. What started this off is a bunch of people fell unconscious at a terrible time and a disaster happened. Imagine if a witch cast a spell while someone was on the stairs! Not only that, the Shades aren't actors in a play. They are people who are kept drugged and intimidated by, essentially, a bogeyman in the persona of a "Great Witch." They are then, essentially, ordered to carry out attacks on the towns people. While drugged.
The Storyteller is, perhaps, one of the most casually evil people in the Ace Attorney games -- perfectly willing to mind control people for his selfish reasons, who manages to avoid any negative repercussion, solely because no one actually died."
So, did I miss something that changes things, or is the ending as wonky as I think it is?
P.S.: Also, a minor criticism is that, Barnham just sort of... disappeared for the entire finale. He had a lot more potential, and just got dropped, which was a real shame.
Also: "I'm dying, j/k, totes gonna be fine after I pop some wonder pills in surgery," did the OPPOSITE of make me feel bad for the villain.