The Life of a Hero! – Taking a Look at the Character Alec Ryder in Mass Effect Andromeda

 

Mass Effect Andromeda starts on a pretty low point. Your twin brother or sister is in a coma, your father is a busy workaholic who never really spent time with you as a child and your first mission in Andromeda is a failure. Worse, Habitat 7 claims the life of your father, forcing you to pick up the pieces and lead the initiative. Sounds pretty grim, doesn’t it? But the funny thing is: Alec Ryder didn’t actually have to die.

Alec Ryder’s heroic face as he dies… WHICH IS TOTALLY BLUE!

Now, this might be out there, but follow me on this one: the situation is bleak. Ryder’s helmet is broken and he’s slowly suffocating from the toxic air on Habitat 7. The shuttle will only arrive in three to four minutes, which is way too long for any human to last without any access to that precious little thing called oxygen. So Alec does what any responsible, badass father would do: give his helmet to his son and die. We don’t know how, but we can imagine his face was blue.

No Brainer

But the funny thing is that it actually would’ve been possible to share that helmet between them. Granted, there isn’t any ideal solution to this troublesome situation, but it’s perfectly possible for the two people to share their helmets. Alec would keep his helmet for a minute, breathe that lovely oxygen and then pass it on to his child. Said child would breathe oxygen for a minute and back it goes to the father. Humans can survive without oxygen for at least a minute. Even if at that point human brain cells start to die off. That may not be relevant, because both people would’ve come out of that situation alive. And the damaged brains shouldn’t be an issue. The 22nd century Med Bay in the Hyperion should be able to fix that. Hell, SAM is capable of killing and reviving you later in the story, without you suffering from brain damage. So while this solution isn’t ideal it should’ve prevented the death of our badass N7 daddy.

Now I get why they killed off the father. Alec Ryder’s death serves a number of plot and game-play purposes. The first of which is that because he is your father you should feel some emotions when he dies. Especially because he croaks in such a selfless and kind way. He gives his life for yours. It’s the very archetype of the courageous, badass father character.

A second plot-related reason is because him dying allows you, as the new Pathfinder, to not only slowly get used to the role (and the powers of SAM), but it opens up a secondary questline in which you try to figure out the family history. Can you imagine that? Instead of just giving you everything in a neat little text the game actually allows you to explore the family dynamics and what Alec was up to as both an N7 and member of the initiative. It’s almost as if that’s good writing! Although it is rather handy that the father figure could record some of his memories into SAM, because otherwise you wouldn’t find out about Cerberus. Whoops, did I mean Cerberus? No no, I meant that vague and mysterious organisation with pro-human beliefs and virtually limitless resources. That couldn’t possibly be the same organisation that was capable of creating several havens, research labs and virtually limitless number of super soldiers after Shepard defects in Mass Effect 2. Not at all!

Following In Daddy’s Footsteps

Spoiler alert, I suppose, but was it really that much of a surprise? As obsessed and indoctrinated as the Illusive Man might have been, trying to fund an organisation that can save humanity by shipping them away is something ANYONE with pro-human alliances would invest in. Mass Effect 3 (and to a smaller extent ME2) demonstrate that the guy has a ridiculous amount of funds to invest into literally whatever he wants, so it makes sense that his organisation would shadow fund this extremely costly endeavour.

Whatever the case may be, because Alec dies you slowly get to investigate his life story and the B plot with this “shadowy organisation”, which presumably would have played a role in the second game. But it also analyzes the Alec Ryder character, which I find far more interesting, because he really seems to be the “alpha male leader” character. He is a natural leader, he likes to take risks that pay off and he gets his results. There is even an SJW element in the game as he doesn’t see an AI as a threat, whereas others “automatically” hate AI for being different. Kinda reminds me of some discussions the lovely people at Twitter like to have…

A good game-play related reason why Alec dies is because you first have to go through a tutorial. You need to get used to your skills and the controls (especially on Insanity…) and the game places you in a rather straight-forward level where you test out your skills while having a subservient role in the expedition. You’re simply an explorer. A not-so-subtle message that the game is all about EXPLORING.

And while you are exploring your father is demonstrating the powers of SAM and how you can slowly build those up. He also wears higher-quality armour that everybody who knows the series should love to death. In other words: he’s an image of what you can build your character into. He serves as another motivating factor to actually level up in this incredibly long game. Now if only the N7 armour set wasn’t so focused on solely biotics…

But despite the clear reasons why Alec had to die I still feel that the way they did it was clumsy. It’s heroic, but also incredibly stupid. That’s just not the image you want to create for this stoic, intelligent and experienced N7.

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Copyright: The images used in this article are screenshots taken from the game series Mass Effect. We are allowed to use them under section 107 of the US Copyright Act of 1976. The Mass Effect game series belongs to Bioware and EA Games.

3 comments

  1. “Granted, there isn’t any ideal solution to this troublesome situation, but it’s perfectly possible for the two people to share their helmets.” – Would you say that, in fact, that it is perfectly possible for two individuals in that situation?

    1. Don’t you worry dear Analyze? If we ever end up in a strange planet in which the air is toxic to us and somehow after fighting a gazillion bad guys who want to kill us for no reason at all your helmet cracks and you can’t breathe I’d totally share my helmet with you. <3

      1. Think I’d take chocking to death, thanks.

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