When we first started our Defiance coverage almost two months ago, I had little faith that either the game or TV series would live up to Trion/SyFy’s grandiose claims. Though both have failed to deliver on their promise of creating an immersive cross-media experience, we’ve still been blessed with a unique multiplayer shooter and a surprisingly well-rounded sci-fi drama. The latter in particular has been consistent in quality, its latest episode being the best in the series to date.
“Goodbye, Blue Sky” opens with a chaotic scene of destruction. As we know from previous episodes, debris from the Arkfall still lingers in Earth’s atmosphere and, every now and then, falls to the planet’s surface. This environmental hazard is one of the many reasons why the humans and Votan take shelter in fortified communities.
Outcasts and wanderers such as Spirit Riders aren’t so fortunate, and as the “Razor Rain” begins to fall our resident Irathient biker gang are caught in the eye of the storm. Sensing danger, Irisa emerges from one of her visions and pleads with Nolan to take her to the Badlands. He accepts, the Defiance lawkeepers unwittingly embarking on a journey fraught with peril and a good plot twist to boot.
Elsewhere, Stahma (Jaime Murray) is making preparations for Alak and Christie’s wedding. In past episodes, these scenes have been the weakest by a long shot, but this time around there is a breakthrough. Of all places, she arrives at Kenya’s brothel in search of advice on human relationships. After a few comical references to her homeworld’s customs things take a turn for the unexpected, though the tangent still succeeds in adding importance to her character.
Meanwhile, Quentin McCawley is still researching the artefact that got his brother killed. This sub-plot has been somewhat of a slow burner in earlier episodes but is really starting to gain traction, especially after Quentin and his father receive a visit from former Defiance mayor, Nicola. She knows that Quentin murdered her croney, the sinister Mr. Birch, and is still hell bent on retrieving the artefact. However, Rafe and Quentin are quick to see through her guise, leading to one of the series’ most tense and cleverly-executed confrontations.
Defiance is really starting to find its footing as we breeze past the mid-season hump. Characters are varied, likeable, and each have their own stories they’ve yet to tell. Better still, the series’ most potent mysteries are beginning to unfold in a manner that is both well-paced and engaging. In conclusion, if you’ve yet to watch Defiance then do so. The first couple of episodes may be hard to swallow but the pay-off is surprisingly worthwhile.
In truth, there is little that can be said about Defiance that hasn’t already been reiterated in previous weeks. Despite hurtling my way through the Bay Area and visiting new locales, I’m still trudging through the same gameplay tropes I was some several hours ago. With that said, I am still finding nuggets of enjoyment here and there.
As mentioned before, Defiance isn’t your traditional sci-fi shooter, nor is it your traditional MMO. It’s a hyrbid of the two and rewards players for not only their skill, but sense of exploration. With many of the game’s bugs having been ironed out, I’ve been casually running through Defiance’s endless shopping list of Pursuits, visiting areas and completing challenges I may well have ignored.
It’s definitely a solid game and one that, to my understand, has picked up a consistent, loyal fanbase. However, as a fan of the TV series, I’m still not seeing any significant crossovers. Sure, there is a smattering of episodic missions that feature iconic characters but apart from that there seems to be zero interaction between both forms of media.
Hopefully this will change; either in the near future or when Defiance season two airs some time next year. Needless to say, it would be highly impracticable and expensive to create a TV show that reacts to players’ actions in-game, though flipping this relationship on its head could be feasible. Trion Worlds’ latest in-game event “The Plague” seems to reflect this idea.
Judging by the trailer, darkness is about to fall on the town of Defiance and it will be interesting to see how the events of these next few episodes will impact on the game.
And so ends our coverage of Defiance. If you’re looking for a comprehensive breakdown of our review, please visit the first few week’s for an in-depth look into the game’s systems and mechanics. With each subsequent week we took a look at some of the game’s other features as well as its biggest issues. We’ll be sure to revisit the Bay Area in the near future but, until then, we’ll continue our review of the SyFy show.