So, if you're reading this thread, hopefully you've already followed my instructions elsewhere and gone and found out what is at the top of the blocked stairs in the Apartments. If not, please go and do it before reading this thread!
Right, so the stairs lead to a room looking like a cafe, but very sparsely drawn. You can see Sabitsuki and a black-haired woman (who doesn't look like the black-haired girls found elsewhere in the game) having tea at a table - but you are still controlling a different Sabitsuki, who initially is standing in the doorway. After about a second, the people at the table disappear (so does the tea set!) and the player-controlled Sabitsuki is then the only person in the room.
I think this part of the game is unfinished. You can wander around, and the edges of the room and the table block your path (so clearly the room is at least partly implemented), but there is nothing to interact with. There is not even an exit - although there is something which looks like a doorway, it doesn't contain a teleport function that will take you out of the room, so you are stuck unless you wake up or use the Arm effect. If you use the Arm effect and come back, you'll find that the people at the table are back again, and this time they don't disappear. You still can't interact with them (if you look at the game data files, it is evident that they are part of the background, not sprites).
I also saw a YouTube video which was linked to from uboachan, where someone had used some kind of cheat to get to a room which is supposed to be further up the stairs. It looks like a fairly normal Apartments room, with a single door and a staircase back down. The staircase leads straight to the bottom of the stairs. The door leads to the tea room again. Note that you can't actually get to this apartments room without cheating though; you just go straight to the tea room, from which there is currently no way out.
So, what does this room mean? Like just about everything in the game, it's probably some sort of memory of Sabitsuki's. It looks like a happy one - the room looks very peaceful. Who is the woman whom Sabitsuki is taking tea with? It could be her mother, but she looks quite young, so this doesn't seem too likely - furthermore, I always thought that Sabitsuki's mother had died. The Sabitsuki sitting at the table looks just the same as the Sabitsuki the player controls, so this is presumably quite a recent memory.
Could the woman be Oreko? It's not clear whether she is older or younger than Sabitsuki. The woman has black hair though, whereas I think Oreko's hair is blonde? It's also possible that the woman is someone who has a role in looking after Sabitsuki, such as one of the maids, or a member of hospital staff, or some sort of researcher. The Love Hotel section of the game suggests that Sabitsuki has been out clubbing with some of the maids at least once, so I think she probably does sometimes spend time with people like this socially.
Alternatively, the room might not be a memory but just a fantasy. Perhaps Sabitsuki is wishing she could have a normal life and spend time doing nice things, like drinking tea with friends. This might be why the image of the people at the table disappears - it is just a fantasy, and not something Sabitsuki can hope to really do.
Note that the background files for the room are called sugar.png and sugar2.png, and of course the method to reach them extensively involves the Sugar Hole and the maids. Anything relating to the maids always seems to be called 'sugar' in the game's data files, so they are probably somehow relevant to this memory/fantasy.
It's not clear to me whether lol actually wants/expects people to reach this room in v0.18. It seems very unfinished, but then, the background files are clearly visible amongst the game's data files, and there is a way to get to the room, even though it is very convoluted. It seems unlikely to me that lol left that method of access in the game as a debug tool, as it takes so long to do it - it's hardly convenient for debugging. So, presumably this room has been made accessible deliberately.
I only started playing .flow in v0.15, and not a huge amount has changed since then. I don't really know how polished new parts of the game usually are. The new parts in v0.17 seemed pretty polished to me, and so do all the other new parts of v0.18. This is the only exception. Pretty odd!
lol added three new areas to the game in 0.192 and left this one unchanged. One of the new areas is only accessible if you have eaten five meals at the Sugar Hole (or so I am told). From this, I conclude that:
- lol is going to stick with the "eat lots of meals at the Sugar Hole to unlock stuff" mechanic.
- lol probably considers this room to be finished.
In 0.192, the girl in the cafe shows up in a new area of the game. The new area is accessed by talking to one of the maids in the Love Hotel after having eaten at least five meals at the Sugar Hole. This takes you to a pulsating dark area with drum and bass/jungle music. There are lots of maids and girls in white lying unconscious on the floor, and some large white statues(?) of girls in suggestive poses. The whole thing has a bit of a sexual abuse aura to it, especially as when you leave, you find yourself in the back room of the Love Hotel with the unconscious girls and maid.
Anyway, from that area, you can get to a room with a large white female figure doing…something…with some liquid on the floor; the file for this image is called vomitgirl.png, and I'll leave the rest to your imagination. The vomit room leads to a corridor with peaceful music and windows in the background, which leads to a cliff edge with arms and hands coming out of it. The girl from the cafe is standing near the edge of the cliff, looking into the distance. You can't reach her as some of the arms are blocking the way.
Looking at the charset files, there are movement animations for the girl, walking in all four directions, but as far as I know these aren't actually being used in the game yet, apart from the one for her standing and facing right. I've not noticed any effects which make her react in any way, although I've probably not tried all of them.
I'm not really any closer to guessing who she might be. Once again, she seems to be connected to the maids, but this time the area she's associated with is a lot more unpleasant. I'm still torn as to whether it relates to date rape (given all the unconscious girls), or prostitution (given the posing figures and another new area of the game which may involve it). If it's the latter, then the girl could be a procuress. Either way, it probably relates to something very bad having happened to the maid (and maybe also to Sabitsuki).