XI
you are not logged in
Feature

Matter Of Perspective: Kingdoms Of Amalur - The House Of Ballads Quest

Fate vs. freedom.

This week I’m taking a different approach to Matter Of Perspective, where instead of analysing the themes and motivations of a whole game I instead look at one quest line – the House Of Ballads story in the rather good Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning – and its wider implications on the Fae.

The Fae in Amalur are immortal but with immortality comes quite the price of freedom. The Fae have no real free will in how their lives play out, and are instead trapped in a cycle, which is even worse for those who become heroes or villains within the Fae ballads, and the House Of Ballads quest line showed a society at breaking point.


The Summer Fae are prisoners of their own lives.
Every life cycle the Fae basically repeat their lives, with the central characters of the Ballads having to repeat their deeds over and over without a change of pace. Villains are resurrected only to be slain, waiting again to experience a life which always ends with a brutal and violent death. Eventually these villains are going to get very annoyed at these predictable, forced existences.

When the Fateless One, the protagonist of the game, arrives on the scene, the Summer Fae and villains are no longer bound by the set event paths, instead being able to change the way the Ballads play out, leading to two sides in a new conflict between these factions, and one that makes you question if there really are any villains in this conflict.

The Fae want to restore the Ballads so they follow the their pre-determined paths, while the antagonists of the Ballads want to stop order being restored so they are free to pursue their own ideals. The Summer Fae aren’t evil for wanting to restore the order, instead they seem to be victims of a timeless abuse, which sees them not being able to do exactly what they want in life.

It’s as if the Summer Fae are collectively suffering from stockholm syndrome, which is defined as relating to or having positive feelings to those that trap you. Fate is the Warden in this situation, and the Fae are the eternal prisoners falling for the idea that their lives need to be rigidly structured to be right. It’s never truly explained as to how or why this cycle came to be, with the Summer Fae just accepting the fact that it has always been that way.

There would have been a time when the Ballads were new, when these events occurred for the first time. Fate deemed that these events would be replayed throughout all of time until the end of Fae civilisation, but why? The Summer Fae go along with it, but the antagonists have had enough and wish to break the chains the Summer Fae seemed to have placed on them.

When the opportunity presents itself these antagonists fight back for freedom, and to determine their own paths instead of stories that are thousands of years old, with the Maid Of Windermere leading the charge against the restoration of the Ballads. She is the main ‘villain’ but everything she has done over the ages has been forced upon her. She has no free will, instead having to fight, kill and die over and over again.


Hero or villain? The Maid fights for her freedom.

When she is finally free of the shackles she leads an army to fight the Summer Fae and stop the cycle from continuing. This has never happened before, because for the first time the Maid is able to decide she wants to do that so she does. In fact you could say the Maid is a hero in her own Ballad, fighting against oppression and leading a charge to save her people from a pre-determined fate.

It’s left to the player on how this plays out, and challenges you to think about free will, and who is actually in the right. The Summer Fae who have become so used to the cycle that they need the stability to be happy, or the Maid of Windermere and her army who want to secure their freedom and live how they wish too without the threat of being killed due to a story.

This quest line ties into the main story as the Winter Fae are the antagonists of the main quest line as they wage a war against all mortal races. It’s logical to assume that they too would have been trapped in the cycle, but finding a way to break out of it leads to a lot of aggression spilling over, eventually leading to the war.

After all, the mortal races have much more free will and are not bound to living the same lives over and over again. The ‘corrupted’ Winter Fae fight against everything that represents a life denied to them for so long. They’re evil in the sense they want to wipe out the mortal races, but it’s a race lashing out for being trapped for so long.

Though the main game may be about a war between the mortals and immortals, the real war is against Fate and the chains it holds over the world.

5 Comments
  1. McProley
    Member
    Since: Aug 2011

    Really enjoyed KoA… Then I ran into the bug that means you can’t progress the game anymore. This was encountered over 100 hours in so yo can imagine how angry I was. EA really should have done a forced patch for it even if the dev company folded

    Comment posted on 30/09/2013 at 09:21.
    • RocketSOL
      Member
      Since: Oct 2008

      Is it possible to avoid this bug if you know where it is. Or will everyone run into it at some point?

      Comment posted on 30/09/2013 at 12:52.
      • McProley
        Member
        Since: Aug 2011

        Yeah it is possible to avoid it. research it first. you shouldn’t get any huge spoilers. Its just a case of forwarding the main quest as much as possible when you get to the second island. That’s not my idea of how to play an RPG though. I like to go explore everywhere and do all the sidequest etc before progressing the story, so if you play like that just use caution when you get to the second island

        Comment posted on 30/09/2013 at 13:06.
  2. RocketSOL
    Member
    Since: Oct 2008

    I bought KoA when Origin was having a crazy sale a few weeks ago. I really enjoyed the few hours I spent on it until my anti-virus thought it was a trojan and removed it automatically! I haven’t bothered to re-install it yet….I really should though.

    Comment posted on 30/09/2013 at 12:54.
  3. Steelhead
    Member
    Since: Oct 2013

    A really great article. Im ashamed to say I completely missed all that subtext at the time. I just labelled the maid as ‘the villain’ and went about the business of slaying her. Although to be fair she had it coming after all the trolls she made me fight through.

    Comment posted on 17/10/2013 at 19:43.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

16 hours ago
3

Latest Comments

TSA Meets

  • None today