Sorry Neon Violet, I Want A Divorce
Earlier this year, I met the gaming character perfect for me. While it's a running joke (please don't look at my search history, it really is a joke) that Pokemon's Tsareena is my wife, in reality it could never work. She can't say anything but repeating her own name, and it doesn't matter how pretty she is, I need a bit of conversation in my life. My real gaming wife, courtesy of a proposal early this year, was Neon Violet, in all her 'spit in my mouth and step on me' glory. Neon White is described as a game for freaks, and Neon Violet was the freak for me. You'll notice I keep using 'was'. That's because Neon Violet is no longer my wife. Violet, I want a divorce. I'm marrying Magik.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the intelligent ways Midnight Suns uses friendship. You need to win approval over time in the game, and it's impossible to maximise friendship with them all in a single playthrough. There are some obvious ways to do this, like siding with them in arguments, but most of the time it's far more layered. You can take them on various hangouts, choose to spend time with them in the evenings, join their various clubs, and have conversations with them.
However, in these conversations it's not as simple as being nice. In fact, Magik and Nico, my two best friends in the game, prefer realism, cynicism, and a little darkness. I praised the system originally for eschewing romance, meaning there was no choice or endgame, only an ever-blossoming friendship. Well the person who wrote those words (me) was an idiot. I want romance. Magik is now my wife.
Neon Violet and I were a Vegas wedding. It was a colourful, mesmerising rush, but it was never going to last. We were like Britney Spears and um, you know, that guy she married. Or Bella Poarch and um, you know, that guy she married. Or Kim Kardashian and um, you know, that guy she married. It was an intoxicating whirlwind, but in the cold, hungover light of day, we were never right for each other. It was always just a fling. Magik though is playing for keeps.
I've always been a major fan of superhero games, and while the narratives haven't always delivered, the characters have. The Arkham series has always been loaded with stellar characters, all led by the late, great Kevin Conroy as the Bat himself. Likewise Marvel's Spider-Man loses its way in the narrative, but the way Peter holds the game together is what makes it a classic. I think Midnight Suns' narrative is a little stronger than most, but it's still through the characters that everything comes to life. Of course I love Nico as a friend, but Magik is so spiky, so lonely, so magnetic, that she compels me.
She significantly toned down, but there's a lot of crossover with Magik and my first wife, Neon Violet. Both relish making others uncomfortable and seek darkness to help understand themselves. Both are a little lost, both doubt their true greatness. Magik's acerbic personality only makes her more appealing, in much the same way Violet's hyperactive insults and mockery add to her charm. Magik is underplayed and Violet overplayed, but both land on similar notes throughout the journey.
Magik quickly became my best friend in Midnight Suns, but I still found myself drifting to her because the character was such a joy to be around, even if she would resent that description herself. I'll always treasure Neon Violet, but our time is at an end. As I walk into 2023, I do it with Magik by my side.
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