Rick has finally realised what is real, and what is really important. He decides that reality is better, and more fun, than the fake world in which he has been living. This realisation recalls the ‘Allegory of the Cave,’ written by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. In it, a group of people have been chained up in a cave all their lives, staring at a blank wall. Objects are passed in front of a fire behind them, and they see the shadows of the objects moving along the blank wall. The cave is all they have ever known, so they assume that these shadows are real objects, and that this is the real world. One day one of the prisoners is freed from the chains, and turns to see the fire. He realises that what they had been seeing were merely the shadows of these objects. He then notices the light coming from the cave mouth and slowly climbs his way out of the cave. He sees the real world and the magnificence of the sun, and realises that even the fire and the ‘real’ objects had been fake. This is the real world, and it is far more beautiful and colourful than anything in the cave had been.
Rick is like the freed prisoner in this allegory. He lived most of his life in the Maze, which was a virtual world in which everything was fake. Everything he experienced there were like the shadows on the cave wall. These were put there by Crater, which is like the false light of the fire. When Rick leaves the Maze behind he begins to realise what ‘real life’ is like, and adapts to the world inside the Crater tower. However, this is not the real world either. It is pleasant and comfortable, but it is really just a gilded cage. Life in Crater is no more like real life than life in the Maze had been. Rick sees that he needs to escape Crater too, but that proves to be much harder than leaving the Maze, as the struggle to the cave mouth is very difficult for the prisoner in Plato’s story. Now that Rick is attempting escape, and sees the mouth of the cave in sight, he realises that he is finally experiencing what real life is like, and that it is better than any game could be.