Moments: Banished from Potos Village in Secret of Mana
Since I’ve been writing a lot about what games made RPGs my genre of choice, I’ve had Secret of Mana on my mind. I never think about Secret of Mana without reminiscing about the heartbreaking moment where the main character gets banished from Potos Village. The scene hits you right in the heart, providing plenty of context for the unfairness of the main character’s plight. Audio, visuals, and dialogue all come together perfectly to create one of the most emotionally charged sequences I’ve ever seen in a game.
Note: Minor spoilers ahead
Initially, the main character garners sympathy after being dragged along by bullies Elliot and Timothy. Mirroring the childhood sense of adventure all too well, the gang explores a forbidden area for rumored treasure. All goes well until our main character, eager to catch up with his friends, falls off a bridge. His trek back to his friends leads him to a shiny object – a sword beckoning him. Like any curious child would do, he is lured by the brightness and takes the sword. This is where the scene functions best – it captures an innocence that we’ve all felt – a curious child exploring his surroundings. However, in this scenario, it suddenly it turns into a catastrophe as he returns home.
Upon entering Potos Village, a life lesson is immediately handed out to our main character. Actions have consequences, regardless of good intentions. Sometimes innocence can’t shield you from the cruel realities of the world. That lesson is abundantly clear when the main character finds out that the sword protected the village, and its removal unleashed a horde of monsters. The Elder has no choice but to banish the main character from Potos Village. The villagers share his sentiment and scream, “Go!” “Get out of here!” Stepping back with each hurtful phrase, the cruelty is too much bear for the main character. Cue in the saddest flute music ever, and the emotional burden of this entire scene is intensified.
The torment doesn’t stop there. The Elder imparts some final words, and although the speech isn’t verbose, it amplifies the difficulty the Elder had in banishing the main character for the good of the village. As he reminisces about raising our orphaned main character and asking for forgiveness, the music changes suit to enhance the emotional connection for what’s about to happen. And then to proclaim the finality of the sentence the guard speaks the infamous line, “You are hereby banished from Potos Village.”
The execution of this entire sequence is remarkable; a flood of emotions surge forth as you helplessly watch a loss of innocence. Not many scenes have stuck with me quite like this one. The context gave me a reason to fight for an innocent hero caught in a world of darkness. Perhaps I just wanted to believe he had a happy ending waiting for him and he didn’t endure his trials for nothing.