Thursday, March 29, 2012

That Wistful Feeling (Mass Effect)

Note: While I do discuss my feelings about the end of the Mass Effect trilogy, this post contains no spoilers. I make no such voucher for any comments that may or may not be left.

When I walked out of the last Lord of the Rings movie, I had a feeling that I seldom got from a movie but frequently got from books - that utterly satisfied and yet nostalgic feeling of ending.

It's sad and beautiful and bittersweet... you're in a magical place you never want to leave although you know it must end eventually. And then, the problem is what next? Nothing satisfies after an experience like that; the dream that you were in is done and anything new at this point is just different. There are a handful of books I re-read nearly every year (The Hobbit, Dune, Watership Down and The Blue Sword) and it's partly because of this feeling, but also because they are the only antidote I've found to this feeling. Fewer and fewer books evoke this feeling for me (though it still occurs on occasion) but when it happens, I'm either unable to read anything for a week or two or I must read one of these dearly beloved (and well worn!) books.

I felt this way when I finished Mass Effect the first time - no game would satisfy for quite some time after. When I finished Mass Effect 2 (a less satisfying experience anyway, in my opinion), I dealt with this feeling by replaying the first one and then the second one.

Now I've finished Mass Effect 3 and I find myself feeling that again. I've booted up half a dozen games, even played an hour or two here and there on one or the other, but not really committing to anything. I still want to live in that world and yet... the story is done. I probably will end up replaying all three and maybe that's the only way to get this out of my system right now, but I'm resisting. There are two reasons for this resistance. First, I just got a new keyboard (Mass Effect 3 edition Razer BlackWidow Ultimate, in case you can't tell, I'm a huge Mass Effect fan) and I want to use it, but I played the series on my 360. This may be a slightly frivolous reason, but I think you'd only think that if you don't have this keyboard. I am seriously in love with this keyboard and the sensation of typing on its mechanical keys. It's so satisfying. Like, viscerally. Secondly, I have a long list of games I actually do want to play (and also feel I ought to, for the sake of my gaming education) and it seems a shame to play something I've already played (twice, in the case of the first two) when there are so many games I have not yet played.

And yet...

That feeling.

It will get in the way. Only an incredibly good game, one that is not only incredibly good but also grabs me  immediately will defeat this feeling for the next week or two. Any other game, even a really good one, will suffer in comparison. Even a better game than Mass Effect 3 will suffer in comparison. Because I lived there in that universe. It sucked me in entirely, I  was Commander Shepard in my heart for those few weeks I played. I played it for as long as I possibly could before finishing it. I did all the side quests I possibly could (except for one that I'm very sad that I missed out on by returning to the Citadel too soon) and replayed several sections of dialogue and story until I was satisfied with it. In short, I savored it for as long as possible.

Unlike many fans, I was satisfied with the ending; and I walked away with that feeling again.



  1. Yea, there was something about hearing the music play for the credits, and I totally know the feeling you are talking about when it was over. I basically played co-op for a couple weeks after before I could really play anything else. Kind of corny, but I still felt like I was helping the cause, fighting the reapers to save the galaxy with Shepard.

    Listening to the ending music again right now reminds me of it all. I can't wait till I'm in the mood to do it all again, actually. I still need to finish ME2 on my FemShep, though.

    1. Co-op just didn't do it for me, unfortunately.