This article was originally published in 2012 at GameArena, a site I wrote for which has since shut down. I have re-posted it here for entirely figurative posterity.
Warning: This article discusses the art of telling epic stories, and includes major spoilers for the Mass Effect, Star Wars, Matrix and Lord of the Rings series’.
It was in the final hours of the battle of Earth. All hope had faded. I had said goodbye to my love, Liara T’Soni, and as I charged with a rapidly-decreasing number of Alliance troopers toward our objective, I pondered my relationship with her.
Liara, a beautiful Asari woman with distinctive blue skin, had wistfully talked to me several times about us one day having little blue babies. Before this climactic battle, we had spent a last few hours together, to make those little blue babies happen.
That thought kept coming back to me as I charged past explosion after explosion, watching people die all around me. I had to survive this. Saving the galaxy wasn’t enough – I had to get back to Liara, to raise our little blue babies.
Then, a blast finally goes off too close, and I find myself crawling the last few steps, blood all over me, barely able to stand and unable to hear anything. It wasn’t until this moment that it really dawned on me – this really might be a one-way trip. My stomach turned.
I may never see Liara again.
This sort of story is familiar to us, and with good reason – the story of Commander Shepard in Mass Effect is one of many which follow the guidelines which we have subconsciously refined and crafted over the years – the Hero’s Journey.