A follow up on a point I missed before, not in response to any particular post or person, but Solo and legaiaflame gave some reasons why it isn’t quite so easy to package up all the elements into this explanation. I have touched on this once or twice before but the topic got me thinking about the topic again so…
I honestly didn’t think much about the “fourth wall” break when I played PDS, I appreciated it and pretty much took it at face meaning. Seeing how much some other people got caught by it, and so giving more thought to it, it usually seems to need a little more thought to me. To leave it as “breaking the fourth wall” does an injustice to the actual trick it pulls, and I think the reason it is as effective as that for many people.
It isn’t as simple as ‘acknowledging the observer(s)’ or speaking directly to the audience / player, or that is only a superficial component of it. By reserving the role of “Divine Visitor” the game instead pulls the player through the fourth wall, it formalizes the audience / player as an actor in the story. So it is a trick unique to the game medium, and much more special than merely winking at the audience on the other side of the wall.
My own little ‘theory’ is purely personal, I haven’t had a reason to offer it before, but again the topic of another meaning to these details got me focused on them. It has been a very long road of discovery and reappraisal but my personal take on the bigger scenario is pretty secure at this point, if I can’t exactly ‘prove’ the PD world was stuck in a cycle of fighting with itself the idea is plainly mooted a few times.
What I like is then the metaphor for pathological existence, the “spell” of the ancients, or as the Heresy Dragon-become-new-Sestren says “the will of the Ancients, it is now with me” … it is like the axiom “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” or more plainly that a decision to change must come from within. As the guide we supply a power and confidence to accomplish that change, which is sometimes otherwise impossible to accomplish from within a vicious cycle trap of pathological self defeat.