[WARNING: this article contains spoilers for the original Mass Effect trilogy. It is also quite fan fiction-y, so deal with it.]
The whole gaming world already knows that a lot of the facial animations in Mass Effect: Andromeda have the characters looking like they just discovered that the cure to cancer was a strawberry Pop-Tart. Lifeless eyes that have seen this sweet revelation and drooling lips for that freshly-toasted remedy... if I was a Pop-Tart with any emotion, I would be pretty freaked out myself.
In a game that has you predominantly interacting with various species before having intercourse with them, looking little more than a mannequin at H&M isn't going to get you action anytime soon.
But who am I to talk? My love interest in the original Mass Effect trilogy couldn't even be seen without her helmet off. Though Tali'Zorah nar Rayya's emotions were never expressed with her face, she still was a better sight than a Kristen Stewart impersonator.
Neither of the two love interests in the first Mass Effect piqued my interest. Ashley Williams was a racist space
Hitler while Asari doctor Liara T'Soni seemed a tad too serious and sciencey
for any sort of long-lasting relationship. But seeing as you can't have the
full Mass Effect experience without
some workplace romance, I decided to play it safe and partner up with Ashley.
I immediately regretted it.
Not only was her distrust of other races skewed, but her love of romantic poetry and religion directly opposed my own interests. It's not that I don't like classic literature or religious people, but when you constantly wave Alfred Tennyson's poems and the Bible in front of your significant other, then you better get ready to live the rest of your life as an old cat lady.
But located in the Normandy's engine room was one more female crew
member; one that chose to spend most of her time amongst machines rather than
talking to people.
Tali became part of the crew after I rescued her from Saren's minions. Initially on the search for technology to help her fellow Quarians, she stumbled upon some audio files that proved that a once proud Spectre had gone rogue. Determined to make a name for herself as well as learn more about the rest of the galaxy, she decided to join me and the rest of the crew on our quest to stop Saren and the hentai-looking Reapers.
Because she had a natural affinity for all things mechanical, most of our banter would be about the Normandy's engine and the rest of its individual functions. But after days of going back to that stupid engine room and hearing the same dialogue over and over like this was some video game, she finally opened up and told me about the culture of her people and the nature of her Pilgrimage.
Things came naturally. We defeated Saren, stopped the Geth, and found a cache
of data that allowed Tali to return to her people.
And then I died.
After a surprise attack by a Collector ship turned the original Normandy
into a thousand holes with some debris surrounding it, I was literally brought
back from the dead Michael Jackson-style to track down the same goons who
decimated most of the crew and left me looking like a human ragdoll. It was on
this new journey that I got reunited with Tali.
Two years older and more mature, Tali rejoined the crew of the Normandy to help me sort out the mess I got myself into. And it was here that I learned that she actually had feelings for me.
I got the initial hints from my fellow crewmates and when I confronted her, she accidentally let slip that she was harboring her feelings ever since we fought Saren. Now I had no idea where my relationship with space Nazi Ashley Williams stood, but considering the fact that I spent the last two years cheating death, I figured this was a good opportunity for a fresh start.
Tali was different from Ashley, Liara, and the new members of the
Normandy SR-2. Miranda was a cold-hearted ice queen who seemed to have even
less emotion that the ship itself and Jack, for lack of a more creative word,
was just plain crazy. But Tali was someone I shared history with; and when you
stare death in the eye countless times with someone (even if that someone wears
a suit with its own environment), you can't really find anyone else to spend
the rest of your suicidal days with.
The relationship started off rocky. You can't really connect with someone if they're hiding behind a skin-tight body suit and a Daft Punk helmet. But due to her sheer determination to make this work, Tali found a way so that her immune system wouldn't crumble from all the vape smoke humans are known for these days. And before the final fight against the Collectors, we consummated our relationship.
But it seems death had other plans; as we defeated the Collectors and moved on to taking down the Reapers themselves. Tali is the only female companion who stayed throughout everything, never once leaving my side. From unsure crew members to savers of the galaxy and countless other species, we literally took on everything the galaxy could throw at us.
How's that for a blank-staring, intergalactic romance?