The lights are on
One of the most beautiful stories I've experienced is Raquel Applegate's
from the 2006 role-playing game Wild Arms 4. The PlayStation 2 title lets Raquel
shine as a strong character; not only is she your most powerful party member,
but she is also by the far the most mature of the cast. Raquel is standoffish
and mysterious when you first meet her, but soon you uncover why she won't let
Warning: Major spoilers ahead from the ending. Read at your own risk.
Raquel has an incurable illness and is slowly dying.
Raquel's sickness isn't why her story is different or emotional. Her
attitude about her unfortunate circumstance is what makes her tale so
respectable and moving. Not knowing how much time she has, Raquel resolves to
find beauty in the world. She wants fond memories to overshadow the cruelty of
war's destruction. She may be set on
finding beautiful locations to replace her painful memories, but she finds
beauty in an unexpected place: By falling in love with her polar opposite, Arnaud.
What's most refreshing about Raquel and Arnaud's relationship is how Arnaud
changes during the journey because of her. He starts off extremely self-centered,
but then slowly becomes a more empathetic and thoughtful person from his
interactions with Raquel. Raquel's resistance to let anyone know about her
illness and finally open up to Arnaud is well-paced, making the revelation all
the more emotional.
However, it's the ending where Raquel's
message hits the hardest and features Wild Arm 4's most defining moment. Arnaud
and Raquel depart from the group to search for a cure, and we're left to think
that maybe there's a shining ray of hope in this sad tale. The timeline flashes
forward 10 years and we find out Raquel discovered her pinnacle of beauty:
Having a daughter with Arnaud. Then sadly, we learn a cure was never found and
Raquel's illness took her.
As her fate flashed across the screen, a poignant
feeling rushed over me. So many times in games we see characters overcome the
worst of odds, but Wild Arms 4 takes a realistic turn and makes a statement about
life. Who knows how much time we have? In the end, Raquel represents accepting
life's harsh realities and making the most of it. Not only does Raquel change
Arnaud for the better, but she creates a new life by giving birth to her
daughter. She also never reacts bitterly about her illness, and her
determination to give her life meaning is inspiring. Her story sent such a
powerful message, something that rang true to real life. After all, aren't we
all searching for beauty amongst life's ugliness?
Watch Raquel confront her weakness with Arnaud’s support:
The ending discussing Raquel's fate, jump to the 2:30 mark:
(Credit for videos: SplitPlaythru)
Email the author Kimberley Wallace, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.