If you had the chance to start over in an entirely new galaxy, would you make the most of it? Or would you make the same mistakes you made before? For Mass Effect: Andromeda, the answer is a bit of both.
Coming out five years after the conclusion of the original Mass Effect trilogy, which saw fans fall in love with Commander Shepard and their universe, Andromeda follows the Ryder twins on their adventure out of the Milky Way galaxy and into the titular Andromeda galaxy. There, the player gets the experience of the “Pathfinder,” the new protagonist of Mass Effect, who tries to settle a new home.
“The game hits a few unfortunately repetitive notes that make this new galaxy feel a little less new than it should.”
Just like the previous games, you have the option to choose to be either male or female with consequently appropriate gameplay. However, unlike the previous games, the character you don’t choose still exists in the game. The Ryder twins — Sara and Scott — are fraternal and whichever twin you don’t choose falls into a coma early in the game and is tied into the story, which is a fun twist by developer Bioware.
The Pathfinder and their team left the Milky Way before the conclusion of the events of the original trilogy, giving Bioware a pretty neat loophole to continue the story after effectively closing any future to those games with its controversial Mass Effect 3 ending. You begin the game by crashing into one of the potential new homes in the Andromeda galaxy, and you quickly learn that the one-way trip to spread out across the stars won’t be as easy as the original mission intended.
While there are dozens of hours’ worth of gameplay that are both fun and challenging, the game hits a few unfortunately repetitive notes that make this new galaxy feel a little less new than it should. For one, the game only really introduces two new species of alien to interact with, after giving us such a rich diversity in the original trilogy with around 20 to meet and about which to learn. Speaking of those 20, only the Asari, Turians, Salarians, and Krogan join you on your mission to Andromeda, leaving out the rich, fan-favourite species like the Elcor, Drell, and Quarians, to name a few. The lack of diversity here is certainly a letdown.
It also feels like a re-tread to have an ancient species’ looming technology (the Remnant) be such an important plot device after that exact story took place with the Proteans. Andromeda at times feels very similar to the original Mass Effect, which leads me to hope there will be at least one sequel. At the very least, it could have a better payoff for many of the moral decisions I agonized over that had little to no effect in the long run. Those moral decisions are part of the core of the Mass Effect series, so to see weight lifted from them is puzzling at best, and a disappointment at worst.
For those critiques, though, the game is definitely addicting and very fun. While it doesn’t justify its $90 price tag for the deluxe version, if you can score it on sale in the coming months, it will definitely be worth your time. The game can hit the high thrills of the original trilogy, it just has a few more valleys than it should. The story in the Andromeda galaxy isn’t finished yet, and while Mass Effect: Andromeda isn’t the most graceful first step, it isn’t stumbling either.