When I first began writing this article I wanted to take a look back at Mass Effect 3. I thought months might allow me to re-evaluate the ending with a different outlook. Just as taking a break from something allows you to step back and appreciate the experience as a whole. I wanted to find solace in the ending of the game. So, I began looking over the Bioware forums for arguments and counter arguments over the ending.
PSA: Don't do that… I quickly remembered why I try my hardest to believe in the Indoctrination theory. The search quickly led me to YouTube where I began watching videos of why the ending is hopefully not shit. This gave me hope that I wont become re-depressed when the the DLC ending is released later this summer. Then I saw her. Tali'Zorah vas Normandy.
For those that don't know, I'm a huge Tali fanboy. I wouldn't go as far a call myself a Talimancer, but I do visit the Tali forums every once and a while. They have a lot of cool artwork and science behind the lovable Quarian. Go check them out!
Anyway, I stumbled across a comment complaining about how the end didn't have enough Tali in it. Which at first made me laugh, but then I stepped back for a second (and I started looking at Tali vids and such…). This might be the answer to my sadness and one of the reasons why I feel like Mass Effect 3 failed me.
I, like other Tali fans, have always wanted to see Tali's face, but Bioware did a poor shop job and called it a day. I always loved the moments when Tali and I could talk. Even though her face was hidden her body language spoke volumes. In 3 they dropped most of the intimate talks. Then the ending pretty much kills Tali off (Dextro based food).
While I was playing the game I was pretty pissed off about the Tali problems. Yet, it wasn't until I saw this comic did I start to think about how the ending really affected me. Tali is gone. Casey Hudson stated Mass Effect 3 is the last Mass Effect game in the timeline. That means no more Tali, ever.
It's like losing a friend. A sexy, witty, dirty talking, pouncing friend; and now there is a Quarian shaped pit inside me that will never be filled. Depressing isn't it?
I mean I was sad when Mordin died but I was given time to heal when I was playing. People talked about it on the ship and I had time to mourn with the people that knew him. It may seem strange that it helped me. However, the link between the player and the player character allowed me to feel better. Yet the poor ending took away what I had with Tali and didn't give me a chance to mourn or become at peace with the fact she will be gone.
I felt this way about the other people on the Normandy as well, but not to the same degree. Even though Tali is just a predetermined character with operational responses, Tali is still someone who I "Romanced" or more accurately Tali is the one I fell for. Tali's relationship with me felt real. I loved her quick quips and cynical personality. I felt butterflies in my stomach when I heard I was going to meet the Quarian fleet. When she turned to me and said, "Still totally worth it." I was overcome with joy and hope. She was Amazing and now she is gone.
The shock that my feelings for Tali so closely resembles the feeling of having someone in my real life leave due to distance, communication, or arguments is eerie. Bioware did such a great job crafting her character that I couldn't, and didn't want to, tell the difference between code and reality. However, this magic comes with a price, and it's called forceful detachment.
Tali was ripped away from me when the game ended. There will be no more magic, no more surprises, no more witty quips, no more Tali pounce. From here on out noting will be new and exciting. The sad thing about it is this 'problem' is just a side effect of the game being so great. I haven't felt this attached to a character ever, which shows how amazing the writers at Bioware can be as well how emotionally impactful video games have grown to become.
This sadness is something that most people would just say, "It's because video games are art that they can make you feel that way!" To this I say "Bosh'tet!" Games are more than art they transcend it. Labeling a game such as Mass Effect as art is demeaning to the evolution of games. One doesn't say football, hockey, or soccer are 'arts' but they evoke the same feelings of joy, sadness, despair, and even the whole myriad of emotions that we humans feel. This is due to the human element.
"What is the human element?" you might ask. Well think of the differences between these examples. A picture of a monk burning himself alive. This would probably be pretty impactful since it is based on a real life event. Now, how about a monk actually lighting himself on fire five feet away from you. This would be a horrendous and life changing event you will never forget. Games are just starting to show the same potential to make us feel in the way that only humans can. The characters within games are making choices based on our feedback and other elements within the games. They are no longer scripted to do A when B happens, they take into account A-Z before they act. Even then their actions are based on your actions as well.
However, right now we are only scratching the surface of what games will become. As such I really don't see any way to currently fix the problem of Tali or other characters 'dying' with their games besides adding content to the game after its release. Even then, as with anything great, there comes a time when the curtains have to close.
In time I hope games can overcome this problem and give our favorite characters more advanced AI that can continue to communicate with us after the 'adventure' is over. As well as create new adventures for us to explore with our favorite Quarian, or at least one can hope…