Ever After: Do We Really Need To Know What happened?
Please welcome Nat, our latest guest writer!
With Dragon Age: Inquisition coming out in November, I know the questions posed since the announcement of the game were: what happened to the Grey Warden from Origins and/or what happened to my Hawke? Hell, I’m curious, I’ll admit it. One spends forty plus hours as a character, exploring their story, shaping it. It’s hard not to become invested! However, are some stones best left unturned? It’s a question I’m going to explore with the example of Revan, a character from Bioware’s Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR).
Spoilers for KOTOR, KOTOR 2, the novel Revan, and Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR), to follow.
A quick recap: in KOTOR, in a nutshell, the player’s goal is to stop the Sith Lord Malak from destroying the galaxy. Malak and his ally Revan were both Jedi who fell to the dark side during the Mandalorian Wars. The player takes on the role of a memory-wiped Revan, who can be male or female, and can choose to redeem the character by going back to the Light Side or retaking ones mantle as a Sith Lord over the course of defeating Malak. It was a very cool story and the Revan identity reveal is still one of my favorite moments in video games. When KOTOR 2 was released, players were introduced to a new protagonist and the question of Revan’s current status was addressed as: he/she disappeared again to go fight off some “greater evil.” Erm. Okay. Not much of an answer.
Prior to the launch of SWTOR in 2010, one of the lead KOTOR writers, Drew Karpyshyn, wrote a novel to finally answer the question: what happened to Revan? In the novel, Revan, now a canon male and Light side Jedi, leaves a pregnant Bastila behind to go off to the aforementioned “greater evil” only to be defeated. Revan is kept in stasis by the Emperor, who proceeds to feed off his power, or something. It was kind of confusing. By this point, two games and a novel later, I was annoyed. While I understand from a SWTOR marketing perspective why the Revan novel didn’t provide a concrete resolution, I felt cheated. Not only was I told, “Your version of KOTOR is incorrect,” as my Revan was female, but I had been teased with the promise of having some closure and denied. Not cool.
Yet, I picked up SWTOR. I was interested in the game for a lot of reasons, but I hoped maybe, just maybe, we could FINALLY see what happened to Revan. And I got what I wanted! Mid-level flashpoint(s) tackled the issue of Revan but the story and conclusion vary depending on your faction alignment. If you’re a Republic player you rescue Revan and put him to work for the Republic; if you’re Imperial, you kill him. But, wait! There’s more! Fast forward two years to the latest game plot, Forged Alliances. Revan is again alive and well, but wanting to destroy the Republic and the Empire to “save” the galaxy. Again.
I may have actually facepalmed at this point.
There two issues at play for me here. One, it’s hard to watch a previously player-centric protagonist have a life and a mind of their own, particularly one which didn’t reflect my experiences. It’s completely selfish, “Well, what about ME? What about my agency? Why don’t I matter?” Logically and rationally, I respect that game developers and authors need to make choices so they can tell a coherent story.I’ve enjoyed the “Forged Alliances” plot in SWTOR despite my qualms. That said, it doesn’t change “my feels” of abandonment and dismissal on having my vision of a character tossed aside. My Revan wasn’t an egomaniacal jackass who left his wife to go traipse about the galaxy; mine was a light-sided do-gooder who loved Juhani! I completely understand why fans embrace “head canons” and fan fiction when it comes to franchises they love.
However fan fiction, while fun, doesn’t ease my poor heart at seeing some character named Revan pop onto my screen in SWTOR. At the end of the day, I think I would have rather not opened this can of worms at all. It might be okay to not have a definitive answer to the question of came after, be it a happy ending or otherwise. Sometimes, maybe, it’s better to let beloved characters rest in the space in between after a game ends and our imagination begins. So, be careful what one wishes for. One might just get it and not like it.