MADiSON is a first-person survival horror game that sees the player guiding a helpless Luca and his possessed Polaroid camera through an abandoned house. Along the way, plenty of intense scares and unexplained phenomena are encountered, but a full explanation is left for the player to work out themselves.
Even from the start of MADiSON‘s immersive gameplay the player is given little to guide their step, leaving Luca at the mercy of Madison’s actions and his only defense being a Polaroid camera. However, this guide will outline the important story beats to reveal what the final scene really signifies.
Luca’s First Scene is Not The Beginning
Unlike most games which give directions or backstory to the player at the start, MADiSON offers no tutorial steps and leaves the player completely clueless. It opens with Luca Maxwell coming round from a painful headache, with no memory of what’s just happened, and loud banging on the other side of a locked door.
By the time the player begins the game, most of the story has already happened, and it is up to Luca to piece together the events that transpired. For example, it is revealed via cassette tapes later on in-game that Luca has already been possessed by Madison (the apparent demon that haunts the Maxwell family), but first time players will have no knowledge of this.
Since MADiSON‘s story is deliberately out of order, this guide sums up the series of events as they happen over the course of the game. The following consists of a chronological timeline outlining Madison Hale’s distorted past, and how it connects to Luca’s terrifying experience.
Luca’s journey is set in 2022, but the actual story begins as far back as 1944 with the birth of Madison Hale. This is seen during the St. Jupiter’s Cathedral level, which switches between 1951, 1987, and 2022 as the story unfolds.
The resultant time-bending puzzle is a result of Luca’s possessed camera, which has the ability to distort living and dead realities based on the demon’s presence. The result of this affects Lucas most in the 1951 version of the cathedral, where he is being hounded by a gas-mask-wearing Nazi.
A woman called Nancy can also be heard in the 1951 confessional booth discussing the atrocities of her Nazi husband. The booth is empty when opened, save for a nameplate which reads “Hans Goring”, and her dialogue implies that Nancy killed Hans herself in that year.
The 1987 version is where Madison Hale’s coffin can be found. It is also the year Madison died, as indicated by Madison’s epitaph in the center of the cathedral aisle. It can be inferred through the significance of these dates that Nancy and Hans are Madison’s parents, which adds even more horrifying implications to Madison’s heritage.
We don’t know much else about Hans before Madison’s birth, but it could suggest that the dangerous demon gravitated towards Hans after his murderous actions during WWII. This is likely the place where the initial demon curse originated for Madison Hale, since after this she begins a ritual to free herself from the same demonic presence that keeps Hans lingering in the church decades later.
The First Ritual Attempt
As mentioned above, Luca can find cassette tapes from a priest that John (Luca’s dad) contacted about the demon. The priest advises that the demon is likely trying to resolve something, yet also urges the listener to stay away from its presence and not succumb to its wishes.
Madison, however, does not heed this warning. Polaroids of four sacrifices can be found inside the Moon Box obtained in the Well level, further hinting that Madison had also been guided by the cursed camera.
Towards the start of the game, Luca finds himself in the same well where Madison attempted the ritual. Thanks to the possessed camera’s ability, he is returned to June 17th 1987, the day Madison Hale was killed.
After a walkie-talkie radio is located, a call from a female police officer can be heard, noting numerous dead bodies and dismembered limbs in the water. This is what results in the death of Madison Hale, after the officer finds her in the midst of the sacrificial ritual and shoots her dead.
Luca discovers certain papers during the Four Virgins puzzle sequence that outline what this ritual involves: a sentimental object, seven sacrifices, human ashes, and a “host” body to act as a vessel for transferring it.
As the ritual rules depict, seven different body limbs are required for the sacrifice, but Madison is killed after having only completed four of them. This is why the demon attaches itself to the next owner of the cursed camera, namely Lucas.
Blue Knees Is Real
Unlike Hans and his connection to Madison Hale, Blue Knees’ presence in the game appears to have been added for variety’s sake. However, they are subtly connected to Luca and Madison’s ritual based on evidence found quite late into the game. Throughout the story, subtle hints about Blue Knees can be found, but it is unclear how much of this is reality or just a vivid hallucination.
Elizabeth Maxwell relates in her memoirs is affected by the demon’s presence due to buying the possessed camera and the Blue Knees book, which Luca later finds in game. Elizabeth’s lack of knowledge on the subject means she was completely unaware of the demon, but also means every member of the family becomes haunted.
The demon’s presence is passed down through the generations, but affects each family member in different ways: Elizabeth resists the ritual but eventually gets blinded, believing the cause to be Blue Knees itself from the cursed book. This is neither confirmed nor denied in the game, leaving it up to the player’s interpretation. Johnny is haunted but resists the ritual by passing down Albert’s camera to Luca as a gift on his 16th birthday.
The Second Ritual Attempt
Before the game begins, Luca has already succumbed to the demon that possessed Madison, and his father has tried to free him with zero success. Luca is weak and attempts to complete the ritual, killing and dismembering his mother and sister to claim the fifth and sixth sacrifices respectively.
Then MADiSON begins for real, where Luca wakes up with no memory of all that has happened and blood on his hands from the previous murders. The rest of the game sees Luca briefly fighting against the demonic presence and trying to escape the ritual (in addition to finding out all the forgotten details).
Along the way, Luca uses the possessed camera as defense against demonic jumpscares, while also being guided to collect all the other items such as the wedding ring and ashes. As Luca’s notebook gradually gets updated with drawings, it appears that the seventh sacrifice will be the head of Luca’s dad.
The following section contains potential triggers and descriptions of suicide. Reader discretion is advised.
Lucas Hangs Himself
Once all other demonic encounters have occurred, Luca will be weak and badly damaged. Returning to the ritual room with the four statues, the final note in Luca’s notebook has been updated that simply reads: “The Hanged Son.”
With the final puzzle complete, revealing that the ritual has been fully completed despite Luca’s best attempts. Luca automatically climbs back up onto the chair where the camera was gifted at the beginning, and slips his head into the noose hanging from the rafters.
After the horrifying sight of Luca succumbing to asphyxiation and going limp, the possessed camera automatically takes a picture of Luca’s hanging body, which is heavily implied to be the result of the demon itself.
Throughout the game, taking pictures of apparitions (such as the demon-possessed Madison) causes the Polaroid to be red and distorted instead of showing the image. The same thing can be seen happening to the snapshot of Luca as he hangs himself, showing that the ritual is complete, and the demon has fully taken over his body.
The screen briefly fades to black, but then Luca appears to wake up again and take a sudden loud breath before the game finally cuts to credits. This cements the reality for Luca; the demon has managed to transfer itself from Madison’s apparitions to his own body, meaning he has now become the monster.
The Future of MADiSON
The ambiguous ending of MADiSON lacks any further explanation, yet implies that the perpetual cycle of hauntings is guaranteed to continue for at least another generation. However, this leaves room for interpretation from the player’s perspective.
The combination of subtle clues throughout the game along with Madison Hale’s harrowing backstory means that she can finally rest in peace after being relentlessly pursued and used by the demon. Furthermore, Luca’s faint glimpses of life suggests that he could now be in control of the demon.
These potential outcomes would turn MADiSON‘s downer ending into something bittersweet, potentially allowing Luca to avenge all the lives of his family and ensure no-one else will have to suffer. Either way, the game’s conclusion serves as a good talking point that is open-ended enough to keep players re-living the scares long after the credits roll.