This is my Eighth entry in my gaming diary for Mass Effect (Xbox 360).
First-time reader and need context? Please go here.
Update from Part 7 of the Gaming Diary:
Shep, Garrus and Wrex manage to destroy the geth’s “mother brain” on ExoGeni. They also learn that ExoGeni was studying a plant / organism called the thorian that infects by releasing spores into the air, and using telepathic capabilities to control those infected. In some cases, they are able to use pain to control the infected. ExoGeni has used this plant in experiments on the people staying at Zhu’s Hope, with terrible consequences. Now many of the people at Zhu’s Hope are infected, and Shep needs to go find this dangerous plant as he knows Saren is also after it.
Chapter 4: Feros
Plot Developments and Gameplay Combined:
Get yo’ Gravol, Immodium, Pepto Bismol or whatever you need to keep yourself from tossing your cookies, ’cause:
GROSS ALERT GROSS ALERT GROSS ALERT BARF!!*
Shep and crew go back to Zhu’s Hope to find this “thorian”. Immediately, they are attacked by infected colonists and what appear to be human alien zombies. They were easy enough to kill, but there were so many of them. Once you come upon the thorian, you are made to shoot at certain nodes of this plant / organism to destroy it.
Seriously, nothing prepared me for the most disgusting moment in Mass Effect I have ever encountered thus far.
How do I describe this…thorian thing? Remember in Aliens when you finally get to see the queen alien laying those nasty eggs? (Oh, God, I am squeamish thinking about it.) That is what it was like seeing this thorian and it had its own unique talent of laying…green asari clones, complete with green goop. So gross! The thorian would speak through these asaris espousing that they were superior beings to humans, calling themselves the “old growth.” That whole thing was bizarre.
When Shep finally destroyed the thorian, we are introduced to an asari by the name of Shiala, who was held captive in the thorian (creepy!). Shiala was a follower of the bewwwbly matriarch. We learn Mrs. bewwwbs was trying to steer Saren down a gentler path, but didn’t succeed, and now she is under his spell. Shiala also became a follower of Saren.
Saren used the thorian to get more information on the visions he experienced from the beacon – the same visions that Shep experienced. Because the visions were complex and uninterpretable, Saren bargained with the thorian for the Prothean cipher. A cipher in this context is receiving an understanding of what it’s like to be a Prothean – basically their culture, how they think and their collective consciousness. In order for Saren to obtain such knowledge from the thorian, he gave the thorian Shiala. Shiala can “absorb” that Prothean cipher from the thorian naturally as an asari. She then could download all that knowledge into Saren which is what she ended up doing. Saren then threw her under the bus (or under the plant, as it were…) and the thorian absorbed her, and cloned an evil version of her over and over for its own defenses. Saren then sent the geth over to kill the plant to prevent Shep from getting to it at all.
Shiala was repulsed with her involvement in the whole operation. As a way of repentance, she decides to download the same cipher into Shep, ‘ cause Shep’s visions of the Protheans is very confusing. Let me tell you, Shiala’s mind meld didn’t help Shep any more (nor me for that matter). Those visions Shep experienced wound up to be even more mysterious and troubling with Shiala’s help.
I know the game gave you an option to kill Shiala, but I had Shep let her go. She wanted to go to Zhu’s Hope to help rebuild the colony there, so Shep let her.
Heading back to the ship, Shep finds Fai Dan who is infected from the thorian. He points a gun at Shep under thorian influence, but before Shep can defend himself, Fai Dan turns the gun on himself.
On the Normandy, Shep debriefs everyone. He tells them about Shiala and the mind-meld experience. Liara, also an asari with powerful mind-meld capabilities tries to help Shep through what he experienced recently with Shiala. After another “cipher” experience, Liara says that Shep has a strong will and she has learned so much from those visions in terms of what happened to the protheans…uh, What? Sorry, but for every mind meld Shep has experienced, the game just replays the same “vision” over and over. I can’t make sense of it, and neither can Shep. Hopefully we’ll have some clarity on that soon because I can’t figure it out.
Until next time…
* In a past life, I worked in a hospital dietary department. I’ve seen (and smelled) some nasty sh!t. I have a cast iron stomach for that stuff, but nothing prepared me for what I witnessed this round. *burp!