After falling head over heels in love with Dragon Age: Kissquisition (wait, is that not the official name of that game?), my partner and I decided it would be fun to try the Mass Effect series. They purchased a digital copy of Andromeda, did a full playthrough, and gave me lots of opinions about it as they went. In an effort to form my own opinions, I started a game a few weeks ago.
Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s format doesn’t feel as intuitive as other games I’ve played. I played on narrative mode, for the sake of the story, which ushered things along nicely. However, the game is very open world while also committing to a main storyline, which was disorienting. I constantly had to question what I should do next, even though I was only really interested in following the main plot. Thankfully, the format was the game’s only downfall. The graphics are stunning, and the character creator is genuinely hard to screw up — though you may accidentally turn your gaming experience into pop star fan fiction. Apparently.
My first goal was to make a character that didn’t look like it’d been kicked in the face (like most of my Dragon Age babes, even though I love them all). I’m notoriously bad at creating cute characters in RPG games; I’ve never made something Monster Factory-worthy, but still. I was extra careful when I started Mass Effect: Andromeda. Then I accidentally made my Ryder twin look just like Kesha.
You think I’m kidding, but I’m really not. This is Rose:
I named her that because it’s Kesha’s middle name, and naming her for the pop star was just a bit too meta for my liking. I swear I didn’t mean to create Kesha’s likeness in the Mass Effect: Andromeda character creator. However, Kesha has been on my mind for quite a while. I’ve always been a massive, unapologetic fan (though I’ll be the first to call out how problematic her appropriation is), and the fact that she’s finally free of her abuser and releasing new music is amazing.
Once I realized the resemblance between Rose and one of my favorite artists, it felt necessary to play through Andromeda as if Kesha was the Pathfinder. This led me to create a persona that was simultaneously diplomatic and off-the-wall. Rose mostly relied on her charm to flirt through basically everything.
It… wasn’t the most sound strategy for tackling the game, but it made things really fun. I enjoyed the dialogue; especially the options that allowed Rose to be snarky without being downright offensive. I also found a reason to attach myself to every character she encountered. It was easy to create a fandom version of Kesha and play the game that way.
I often found myself asking, What would Kesha do? The answer: run fearlessly into every situation and always, always come up swinging. I chose diplomatic dialogue nine times out of ten but occasionally, when it felt like it mattered, went the emotional route instead. Rose was spiritual, and dedicated, and weird about her dad. She was also super badass. Wondering WWKD at every turn kept me interested in the game, despite how strange I found the format.
There’s something bizarre about playing a Pathfinder who’s spiritual without being outright religious; likewise, playing one who’s committed to the mission but also desperately, achingly concerned for the people she meets made the emotional beats of Andromeda stick every hit. I have no idea what Kesha’s personal life looks like beyond what’s portrayed in the media, so I made things up. I became quite attached to this fictional version of her. Rainbow served as my unofficial Andromeda soundtrack, which was surprisingly appropriate.
Andromeda has sibling grief and abandonment issues at its emotional core. It’s also quite literally about colonization. I haven’t played the other Mass Effect games, so I’m not up on the history of the series, but the impression painted in Andromeda is that colonization is a-okay. That’s uncomfortable at best, though it settles more on the side of horrifying from where I’m standing. At any rate, I think the best way to get through this game is to base your Pathfinder on someone who takes no shit. Someone who cares, passionately, but also puts herself first. I don’t necessarily recommend accidentally designing a pop star in the character creator, if only because it might send you into a spiral trying to figure out her backstory…
But, what the hell? I thoroughly enjoyed it. You might, too.