A fine example of a success story that is Mass Effect. The license developed by what was a small Canadian studio has become one of the biggest franchises of the 2000s. Although not all players have had the chance to roam the space at the helm of the Normandy, the Shepard trilogy has all the same marked the minds of many players. So much so that it was only natural that a surge of derivative products hit the market fairly quickly, ranging from comic books to animated films and even novels.
A brief overview of what the license offers to deepen your knowledge of its lore.
The Shepard Trilogy Novels (plus there’s not even a picture)
- Mass Effect – integral of the first cycle – Drew Karpyshyn
Paperback edition bringing together the three volumes written by Drew Karpyshyn (historic screenwriter of the Mass Effect saga), released in 2017, this brilliantly written trilogy dwells on the past of two figures well known to fans: Kahlee Sanders and Commander Anderson.
Revelations, Ascension and Retribution are a prequel to the Shepard saga. Mankind, after discovering Prothean ruins on Mars in 2148, has succeeded in developing the means to travel to the far reaches of the galaxy. Therefore, the human race will have to learn to cohabit with alien species, and try to find a place for itself within the galactic community.
Saren, Cerberus, the Trouble Man, intrigue and conspiracy are on the menu in this absolutely essential trilogy for those who want to learn more about the Mass Effect lore. The author masters a constant suspense, and the books are devoured with real pleasure. More than just a derivative product, it is also an excellent entry point to understand the whole universe of Mass Effect.
- Mass Effect Dissimulation
Written by William C. Dietz and available only in English at the time of this writing, Concealment has been strongly criticized across the Atlantic, and for good reason. The novel is riddled with errors regarding the lore of Mass Effect, and makes unforgivable chronological errors.
As for the story, we follow again Admiral David Anderson and his partner, Kahlee Sanders, who have gathered the evidence for the existence of the Reapers threat. Opposed to the Cerberus organization, they will be joined in their struggle by Gillian Grayson, a young biotic who seeks revenge on the Trouble Man, whom she believes is responsible for her father’s death.
Soft writing, lack of rhythm, scriptwriting twist that we see coming from the first chapters, Concealment is unfortunately dispensable reading.
The novels of the Andromeda era
Jason M. Hough and K. C Alexander are in charge of this novel published in 2017. Despite a correct writing and a nice plot, it struggles to unite, due to a lack of charisma of the main characters.
In terms of history, settlers who have been sleeping for several centuries arrive at the heart of the Andromeda galaxy. But when they wake up, their hopes for a new home vanish. Turians, Galarians, Asari and Humans suddenly find themselves faced with threats that are beyond their imagination.
The Nexus, the heart of the new human colony, suffered an attack even before the arches arrived. We will follow Security Chief Sloane Kelly who must restore order in the station and quickly identify the nature of the threat to its residents. Its failure would doom the entire Andromeda Initiative.
With N.K. Jemisin and Mac Walters (main author of games since Mass Effect 3) at the controls, this novel is much more successful than its predecessor (except for his absolutely filthy jacket).
As a prequel to Andromeda, we follow here the epic of Cora Harper. A member of the elite Asari unit of the Daughters of Talein, mentored by Nisira T’Kosh, Harper is an extraordinary fighter. Her mission will be to find confidential information about the Andromeda Initiative that has been stolen by a mysterious enemy. She won’t be able to trust anyone, not even the one who recruited her: Alec Ryder.
Book of Catherynne M. Valente and N. K. Jemisin published in 2018 (without official French translation at the moment), this novel leads us to follow Keelah Si’yah a Quarienne who must watch over the ark of her people on her way to the Andromeda galaxy.
With 20,000 settlers of several races including the Drells, Elcors and Butarians on board, the ark represents a symbol of hope for all these races. However, during a routine check-up the Quarians discover that many Drell settlers have died in their cryopods as well as the presence of a pathogen. The disease is spreading on board, while many technical failures appear.
This is not an accident, but sabotage. The culprit is on board and Keelah Si’yah tries to find him.
Change of tone for this volume, with an approach in the form of a police investigation. The tone is catchy, and the suspense is in order. A small success.
Comics: bubbles and images
- Mass Effect: Complete Edition
Released in the USA in November 2020, this compilation brings together all the comics of the Mass Effect saga, from the Shepard trilogy to Andromeda. More than 800 pages for a very affordable price (around 35 €), this edition is a real treat for the fans.
The edition includes the following comics: Mass Effect: Redemption 1 to 4, Mass Effect: Evolution 1 to 4, Mass Effect: Invasion 1 to 4, Mass Effect: Homeworlds 1 to 4, Mass Effect: Foundation 1 to 13, and Mass Effect: Discovery (New World) 1 to 4.
You can find these comics published individually in French at Delcourt and Panini Comics. However, if you speak a little English, take this compilation instead.
The various narrative arcs covered by these comics are so vast that it is difficult to summarize them in a few lines. You’ll follow Liara as she teams up with Drell Feron to retrieve the body of Commander Shepard, uncover the origins of the Trouble Man in a best-movie-noir tale, and also see Aria defend the Omega space station from the forces. of Cerberus. Cerberus will have pride of place in this collection, as it also explores internal conflicts within the organization and the lives of its agents.
This volume also contains untold stories about Garrus, Tali’Zorah and Wrex, as well as the Discovery series which puts the Turian soldier Tiran Kandros at the center of the story.
Le film d’animation : Mass Effect Paragon Lost
Mass Effect : Paragon Lost is an animated film released in 2013 in France and centered on Lieutenant James Vega, one of the heroes of Mass Effect 3.
The purpose of the anime is to shed light on the character’s past, and give him more body. We will meet in this animated film well-known faces such as Liara, Tali and Wrex among others. Started at the time of the release of Mass Effect 3, this project was supervised by the pundits of BioWare, and entrusted to the studios FUNimation and Production IG (Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, The Prince of Tennis, xxxHolic: Le songe of a summer night).
Product rather respectful of the original material, Paragon Lost is a very decent anime, although the animation is sometimes wobbly, and the character design is a bit weak. On the other hand, on the scenario side, we are served on a silver platter. The theme of the choices that must be made (the heart of the mechanics of Mass Effect games) is superbly knitted throughout the anime. Vega’s choices are similar to what is found in video games: all of them have consequences that can be cruel or unexpected, whether they seem good or bad on the spot.
Vega will learn that making moral choices is far more difficult than picking up your gun and spraying bullets around the world. The end of the film is also a magnificent tribute to the conciliatory and pragmatic choices of Mass Effect.
Mass Effect is an extremely rich license, with a vast and exciting lore. At the dawn of his resurrection thanks to Mass Effect Legendary Edition, rumors of a film adaptation with a certain Henry Cavill as James Vega continue to flourish on the web.
Let the fans cheat their brains, there are only a few more days to wait before the release.