The general manager of a Canadian video game developer announced a remaster of a sci-fi role-playing game on Nov. 7, 2020, much to the gaming community’s excitement.
“It’s tough keeping a big secret (and we really struggled to keep this one a surprise) but now it’s official: today we announced the Mass Effect Legendary Edition! We’ve heard (for years!) your requests for a Mass Effect remaster, so we’re super happy to finally reveal that we’ve been working on a remastered edition of the Mass Effect trilogy,” said Casey Hudson, general manager of Bioware, on the announcement.
The Mass Effect trilogy as a story medium, which released its first installment in 2007, boasts a compelling interactive story.
The first Mass Effect won the best role-playing game on Game Critics’ Awards in 2006. According to IMDB, the second installment won the game of the year award in Canadian Videogame Awards in 2011, among other awards in the previous years.
According to IMDB, while Mass Effect 3 was nominated for the British Academy Film Awards Best Story award in 2013, it lost to The Walking Dead: The Game – Season by Telltale Games. It also lost the Best Game award to Dishonored by Arkane Studios in the same year.
However, if you never played a video game before or are looking for a world to jump into, do not be fooled by the trilogy’s age or be intimidated by the lore or the game’s difficulty. The game offers difficulty modes that allow you to focus more on the story without the hassle of studying what weapon is the best for a specific enemy.
The game also avoided requiring the player to read an unbearable five pages of a prologue to understand the context of the story. A player is eased into the game’s world and characters, making it easier to follow the narrative.
If you are the type of person who fancies the ability to affect the world around you with your choices, it doesn’t matter how new you are with gaming. The trilogy may still be an excellent addition to your list.
As a story-driven game, despite the age of the franchise, the trilogy still made its way into The Gamer’s Feb. 2020 best story-driven video games list and PC Gamer’s July 2020 list of best role-playing games of all time.
However, it also received criticism on the choices between good and evil as it “felt way too simplistic,” as stated by a Feb. 22 Forbes opinion article. According to the article, while the choice between good and evil was scaled back on Mass Effect: Andromeda, a sequel but of a different setting from the trilogy that was met with dismay due to a number of reasons, it was “not just there.”
“I’m thinking of a lot of games that allow for player choice like Telltale titles or The Witcher 3 or The Outer Worlds, and those are more about complicated moral dilemmas without clear answers, not like ‘shoot your friend or talk to him until he drops his gun’ like Mass Effect often presented,” the author of the piece wrote.
While the significance of choice and outcome is a popular and almost staple of a theme amongst the narrative of many role-playing games, Mass Effect did not shy away from the theme of loss and death.
It did not do so only by the cutscenes you must walk through, or the blazing of guns and bullets as enemies of insignificance fall like wheat to your fearless bravado. But it embraced the theme of death with a bittersweet canvas of loss and despair painted around you.
And seeing that is a very humbling experience.
For example, as I was passing by an information booth on Citadel, a massive city-like space station where you will spend a lot of your time in the game recuperating after missions, I overheard a conversation.
“Oh, hello, Ma’am!” said a female clerk to an old woman.
“You’re to call me Teresa,” said the older woman.
“Maybe my son didn’t have the chance to marry you because of this damn war,” continued the woman. “But you’re still family in my book. Nothing will ever change that.”
“I,” said the clerk, hesitating. “Of course, Teresa.”
The older woman then invited the clerk for lunch, which the clerk said she would love.
However, at first, I ignored it and went on my way. But, later on, I stumbled upon the information booth yet again and saw the old lady seeking information about her son.
“But we spoke about this already, I told you about his mission and,” said the clerk, yet the old lady interrupted, explaining that his son has been very punctual with reaching her, worried that it has been a month since his son had not contacted her.
The clerk helped the lady, and then I went on my way.
And as I passed by the same booth between my missions, I heard the same conversation but was confused since it was worded out so differently. Although not deliberately revealed, the repeat conversation I first suspected of being a deja-vu implied that the older woman was suffering from a form of dementia.
Fans say the older woman has Alzheimer’s disease.
“Please, Teresa, are you sure you don’t remember me?” said the clerk, her voice cracking.
“Calling me by my first name is very forward of you young lady,” said the old woman with a raised tone of voice. “I’d rather you didn’t do that.”
“I-I’m sorry,” the clerk said. “I’m so sorry. I must have confused you with someone else.”
While many other games I played glorified war and conflict with honour and glory, this conversation remains one of the most unforgettable moments I had with gaming due to its depiction of a mother’s grief and pain as a result of war.
And, what’s most fascinating is you see a similar conversation between unnamed characters around you, depicting the subtle realities of life as you play the game.
Another example occurs when a pair of nurses discuss their mental struggles while caring for a soldier. Both nurses also ranted about the cutting of jobs, volunteering for double-shifts, budget cuts, or even the typical rant between the relationship of hospital administration to the ward.
However, these conversations between what is supposed to be background, unnamed characters filling the environment with life, is not all about loss and death. But also, of friendship and warmth.
A soldier who was injured and shattered his armour was sent a new one. Unbeknownst to him, it was a friend who bought the armour at the cost of her car to protect him.
Every choice is crucial because it may decide the fate of friends you have met along the way. And an option, while it may be beneficial to one of your companions, may spell the demise of another.
A choice may also decide the fate of an entire species, and it can also lead to a series of options entirely different from the choices of another player.
These are all just a small part of the game, of how these subtle elements can make a story seem alive in an already compelling story.