Sanitarium: what exactly was going on? (spoilers)

I finally finished the computer game Sanitarium a few months ago (hey, I took a break in the middle of it that lasted a few years). While it’s an excellent, incredibly creepy game, if a bit too easy to complete, I don’t get what was going on in it.

As far as I can figure out, Max was lying in his hospital bed the whole time and what we’re doing is navigating him through his nightmares and hallucinations. Even the sequences in the various areas of the asylum are dreams, in other words. Then, close to the end, Max figures out that what’s happening to him isn’t real and has to pass “Morgan’s Last Game” to wake up before a horrid green something-or-other is pumped into his veins.

When Max finally tumbles to the fact that he isn’t really becoming a little girl, four-armed cyclops or Aztec god, he says something along the lines of “all of this… Dr Morgan trying to kill me… it’s not real!”. Apparently, Dr Morgan isn’t trying to kill him. So what’s with “Morgan’s Last Game”? What was that green sludge about? What was wrong with Max to start with?

I know there are probably no answers to all this, but that doesn’t mean we can’t throw some opinions about, right?

I got this at Target for $10 a few months ago. I really wish more games like this were still made. Damn you, gaming industry! You’ve killed the adventure market!

Anyway, my take on it was that Dr. Morgan was indeed trying to kill Max, and that Max was slipping in and out of his delusional worlds. Then again, it’s been several months since I’ve played it and I don’t have a complete recollection of what happend.

That was my take on it until the last couple of levels, when Max stated (albeit slightly ambiguously) that Dr Morgan wasn’t trying to kill him. Also, the “slipping in and out” hypothesis doesn’t really work with the ending, when Max wakes up in what looks like an ordinary modern hospital surrounded by wife and kids, not the old Gothic horror castles he’s been in before.

It’s been a couple of years since I played this game, but I still remember it pretty well because it was so damn good.

IIRC, in the last cutscene they mention that Dr. Morgan sabotaged the brakes on Max’s car. So, he did try to kill Max. But as far as I could tell, he did not try to poison Max. That was just one of Max’s delusions. I think that, in the final puzzle, Dr. Morgan represented a fatalistic aspect of Max’s personality, that wanted him to just succumb to his injuries and die.

And the asylum was just as unreal as the comic book world or the evil plant monster. Only the flashbacks and the radio broadcasts “from the outside world” are real.