Yesterday I re-blogged a post written two years ago by another author that explored how the relationship aspects of NPC characters can unexpectedly blindside you into reflecting and/or comparing your own real life relationships just by playing through the Mass Effect universe.
I have played all three titles in this series, not once, not twice, but several times now and each experience reveals new and never-before heard conversations and dialogues that somehow got missed the first time around. I am currently haunted by a silly fetch-quest I somehow missed in my most recent play-through of Mass Effect 2. I got it every other time I played this title and was pretty miffed that I missed such a silly thing and yet I seriously contemplated “restarting” Thane’s recruitment mission to complete it. Why would I do such a thing?
Well I have no idea how long it took to accomplished this, but the developers of this series have made it so that what you do in one game is reflected back at you in the next game installment and is not limited to only your team or main characters in the story. Pretty much anyone and everyone you interact with as Commander Shepard has the potential to show up in the future – either to welcome you back for your help with a problem they had or to curse the ground you walk on for not following through or even never knowing you missed something since they didn’t survive into the next title.
The quest I missed wasn’t even a formal request for help, just some random Salarian on Illium who is talking to a relative about a lost file regarding his family’s pedigree that is missing and that without it, negotiating any future marriage contracts will be detrimental to his entire family. If you find it and bring it back to him, he is most grateful and you get a feel-good feeling for helping out a stranger. Much the same feeling you get when you deliver a lost locket to an Asari widow, the last memento her daughter has of her father who died while she was still too young to remember him.
There are so many of the fetch-quest instances of this type that I’d need to write a wiki. But for now I will post those that stood out for me, simply because they unexpectedly cause you to become emotionally invested in characters that you will likely never see again. You know that these characters aren’t really relevant or even have much (if any) impact on the main story, and yet you still find yourself standing around eavesdropping on random conversations, wanting to know more and feeling compelled to wait to find out if there is anything you can do to help…. just because.
In other cases with characters you met in Mass Effect 1 for instance, if you save the Asari of Zhu’s Hope who was a victim of Saren and the Thorian, you meet her again on Illium asking for help with a contract that contains fine print for invasive tests on the colony survivors. She asks you to speak to Erinya of Barrier Frontiers whose daughters and bondmate are dead and she blames all non-asari for their deaths. What follows is rather potent:
Erinya: The aliens will never be my allies. The best they can do is give me useful medical data.
Shepard: [Charm] Why was your bondmate on the Quarian homeworld?
Erinya: Studying the Quarians. Not their technology, but their music. She loved all their art. Said they had old souls. I think that’s where my daughters got it from. Both of them loved talking to people, exploring new cultures.
Shepard: They sound like wonderful people. The Galaxy is lesser for their loss.
Erinya: [crying] Yes, it is.
Shepard: Do you think they’d want you to do this?
Erinya: [breaks down] I’m not… I didn’t… Oh… [Slumps to the ground; Shepard helps her back up] I’m sending an amended contract. No more tests. No fees. There’s enough grief in this galaxy, I don’t need to add to it.
This is just a VERY small example of how Mass Effect can instantly create emotional connections with characters you likely will never see or hear from again. For the bigger “feels” (as some fans have termed it), members of your crew have some monster emotional scenes I will explore next time.
Until then, “Can it wait for a bit? I’m in the middle of some calibrations.”