Depressing is immediately the first word that comes to mind as I finished reading Arthur's story. There was something that made my heart wrench deep inside me as I read his story. I'm not sure if this is a common trend throughout Version 6, but Arthur was an enjoyable read, but not certainly a happy one. One of my favourite things about CrossbowPig's writing is that they're able to nicely encapsulate the backstory of Arthur and use it to justify the decisions and actions he has made in a natural way. In a way, Arthur was a kid who was forced to grow up much earlier than others due to his mother dying and having to take a role of authority for his sister in place of his failing father. Throughout his time on the island, especially towards the beginning, Arthur often lands himself in the paternal role within the group, which can be seen in examples such as the analogy of him, Henry and Jasper being on holiday with the two of them running off and him observing them in "Self Doubts and Hurricanes", to him trying to stop Bradley from verbally assaulting Kimiko by admonishing him in a disciplinary tone in "This Be The Verse". He's often contrasted to be more mature than the others and his caring nature lends towards this viewpoint, such as how he was still thinking about Bryony, Jasper, and Henry long after they had separated. Additionally, he often tries to stay and appear strong throughout his time on the island for Marie and his companions, refusing to show weakness to the camera. He mentally tells himself to stay strong and to stay off camera when he was breaking down for Marie in "Self Doubts and Hurriances" and visibly hides his face when he's mourning the death of Henry and Jasper in "Think About Your Life".
The idea of him being a parental role on the island plays nicely into the idea of control, which seems to be a theme for him throughout his profile and his time on the island. Ironically, Arthur doesn't have a lot of control, in fact, there were times where he is completely powerless to influence events around him, though not without lack of effort. In his profile, a lot of the activities he conducts during stressful periods emphasize the importance he has with control and the enjoyment of having things in order. This even extends to his behavior of Marie and his interactions and motivations surrounding protecting Coleen and other kids he meets. His first actions in "Plutonian Wharf" revolve around him studying his belongings and making sure he is prepared with knowing how to use the paintball gun and he tries to take control of the situation in "Think About Your Life" by using his paintball gun. He also sets out from the beginning to protect as many people as he could, but in the end, watches Bradley and Bernadette die with almost identical methods and when he finally decides to try and directly intervene, he gets himself accidentally killed. The juxtaposition between his powerlessness and the power a person in his position would normally have adds to the tragedy of the situation and it feels like the ability to take the reigns of events happening around him keep slipping through his fingers. However, a part of me would like to have seen how his preference for control and order would have created conflict with the other kids. Granted, this is more of a nitpicky thing and the threads he ended up in didn't lend themselves towards exploring this aspect of his character.
Marie was obviously a very important character to Arthur. However, I enjoyed how as the game goes on, his focuses shift from things out of the island to things on it. In the beginning, Arthur's mind often makes references to Marie and she acts as a grounding influence for him such as how he's able to stay positive in the beginning by thinking about how Marie would never need to be on the island. However, as time goes on, that focus shifts from Marie to Coleen and even in his final thread, Arthur has accepted that Marie has probably moved on. For me, it's a representation of just how encompassing the island's influence is having over him. Marie could be seen as life outside of the island while Coleen as life on the island. Over time, events lead him towards focusing almost entirely on the events of the island, with his past outside of it becoming a fading memory. Another way that the island influences Arthur is how later on, he uses video games to dissociate himself from everything that's happening on the island, shown through the use of video game metaphors such as Bernadette "joining their party" and how he references corpses having good stuff in games when thinking about the spear and Bradley in "Honeysuckle and Pain". I like how it seems to be a less than obvious way of demonstrating the stress and impact the game is having on his mental sanity as he's having to rely more and more on gaming metaphors to get through the game without fully breaking down.
In the end, what I find really depressing about Arthur is that he never is allowed a chance to be hopeful for a long period of time. The first sentence that we're introduced to him on the island is him recognising that he was going to die on the island and every hopeful moment feels ripped away from him in the next thread. He's hopeful about his beginning with Henry and Jasper, but then starts to distance himself from them almost immediately in "Self Doubt and Hurricanes" and falls into hoplessness when he recognises that they don't need him. He goes off with Coleen and then watches Bradley get killed. Then when he joins up with Bernadette and feels good for a change, bam, she gets killed off by Brendan in the next thread while he also learns about the deaths of Henry and Jasper. Arthur rarely gets a break from things being taken away from him and with each moment that something positive may come, it almost instantly gets responded by an even greater tragedy. He's never able to stop bad things from happening around him and the one time he tries to overtly stop a bad thing from happening, he gets shot by the person he set out to protect and has become a sisterly figure for him. It feels like the final nail in the coffin of what is a very depressing journey for the kid. He's powerless, and he recognises it, calling himself "an accessory" in his final thread. He wants to influence and control things around him, but he can't. The person he was so set out on protecting ended up being his killer, even if it was an accident, and there is something ironic in how the sister figure that he worked so hard to preserve ended up being his undoing.
Overall, Arthur is a very good read. He's not an easy one, however, and things tend to happen to him rather than him doing things to influence the events. At the same time, however, not everyone needs to make things happen to make a good story. In a way, Arthur's story is more tragic because he can't do anything. He's a person who values control and order but is never allowed to have it. Things happen around him that are out of his control and his death wasn't even meant to happen. It just did. In the Meanwhile thread, his family is resigned to his death and his death is treated as a mistake being corrected. In retrospect, it could've been nice to have a thread where Marie and Arthur actually interact with each other, just to give his thoughts about her more meaning. At the same time, though, Arthur is a great read and I'd recommend people to follow his story. It isn't a happy one.
As a bonus, I thoroughly recommend people read his only memories thread, TV People. It's honestly one of my favourite parts of CrossbowPig's writing as it neatly encapsulates Arthur's relationship between him and his father as well as how he behaves outside of the island. It should serve as a good example of how to approach a memory oneshot and it got me excited to see how Arthur was going to be on the island.