No one likes goodbyes, whether it be saying farewell to the characters in your favorite video game as the final credits roll, or saying goodbye to two of the three voices who made this incarnation of the Splitscreen podcast so damn special. Bring some tissues, kids.
The tissues aren’t for you. You can use them if you need to, but they’re mainly for the guy who spent a great deal of this week’s episode sobbing thick, heavy, tears as the soon-to-depart Ashley Parrish consoled me and the departing-today Nathan Grayson sat stoically like the heartless robot he is. We all process grief differently, so it’s okay that Nathan is a monster.
This week’s extra-long, extra-special episode begins with the sad news of Nathan and Ash’s departure before a smooth(ish) transition into a discussion of some of our favorite video game goodbyes. At some point, we started talking about the earliest presidents we can remember (mine was Carter), likely as a result of one or both of my co-hosts calling me old.
Then, in the middle of a conversation about how Nathan, Ash, and I have been changed by our time with Kotaku, I completely lose it. I refuse to listen to that bit, but those who have listened tend to offer me hugs, which I gladly accept.
Grab the MP3 here to listen to the whole ugly thing. Here’s a tear-free excerpt in which Ash manages to bring up her beloved BioWare games one last time.
Nathan: I think that maybe one of the best [video game goodbyes], at least in terms of just, like, you know, making you feel all sorts of things is Undertale. The end of Undertale, at least the good ending. The bad one less so, although I suppose the bad ending is a form of goodbye in that you killed everyone. But the good ending is very much like, you know, you reunited a lot of characters, you help them get over their various both physical and emotional trials. And everyone kind of moves to a new place together. And you get to see a montage of people living their lives. And it’s just very, it’s very nice. It just feels like it’s in lockstep with the kind of story that the game was telling. It was about a lot of characters being separated, in part due to various challenges they were having in terms of coming to grips with who they were and accepting themselves. And they do and they’re able to support each other and have a nice little life, and you love to see it.
Ash: This is all reminding me of the endings to the last two BioWare games that anybody cared about, which was Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age Inquisition. And both of those games had DLC codas to them...
Nathan: Yeah, Citadel and Trespasser.
Ash: ... that wrapped up people’s storylines and allowed you to say goodbye before you could, you know, jump back into the main game and finish the mission or whatever. A BioWare game is usually all about its characters and your interactions with those characters. There were missions tacked on that you had to do and quests and things to shoot up, or stab up in Dragon Age’s case. But more centrally focused, kind of like what Nathan was talking about with the [The Witcher III] Blood and Wine expansion, was just hanging out with your pals.
Like the entire conceit of Citadel is, yes, there’s a weird Shepherd clone. But we also have this really cool penthouse in the Citadel. We’re all gonna sit here and hang out and watch movies and shit before the end of the world. And within that little narrative structure you can, like say goodbye to characters who have passed on because they have this memorial wall, or you can go on a date with your romance option. All these little vignettes that you can do that encapsulate each of those characters and their iconic ways while also recognizing this is the way that we say goodbye.
And in Dragon Age’s case they go even a step further because they operate purely on wish fulfillment in that you can marry a couple of your love interests based on who they are. Like you can marry Dorian and you can marry Cullen, which I did more than once. And, at the end of that game, it was also a very nice ending to your character as the Inquisitor. That story gets wrapped up while also setting up the next story for Dragon Age 4, whenever that happens. Then at the end, they also have different codas for these characters, depending on the choices that you make. Like, if you don’t romance Cullen and you make them do another thing he’ll either be this cool dude that’s hanging out with his dog or some strung out drug addict that’s dying in the streets, which is actually kind of tragic.
Nathan: Yeah, no kidding.
Ash: Certain people disappear and they’re never seen from again, or if they hooked up, iyou can see them off together. Dorian and the Iron Bull, if you don’t romance either of them, they hook up and they have this clandestine romance that’s actually pretty sweet. BioWare was in their bag when they did that shit. I guess they thought that they weren’t going to make these games anymore, or at least with these characters. So time to say goodbye and send them off nicely.
Fahey: I can’t believe this is the last fucking podcast with you two, and we’re talking about fucking Cullen again.
Ash: Hey, if nothing else, I am consistent.
Nathan: Yes, very.
Fahey: I wanted to bring back another character we talked about before, in terms of saying goodbye. You don’t have to actually say goodbye to say goodbye. It can be just like the way the game sends off a character. Lirum from Lost Odyssey. That whole funeral sequence where you light the candles and send her off. My god, talk about a character I didn’t know much about that suddenly died, and I’m like, okay. It was bad enough she died. But now I’m giving her the send off, and I feel such mixed emotions and it’s so weird saying goodbye to her.
Nathan: You just reminded me of one of the worst video game goodbyes.
Fahey: Oh, boy.
Nathan: We’re talking about funerals. Press X to pay respects.
Fahey: Oh, no. Kevin Spacey’s son.
Nathan: I feel like that’s an especially low watermark.
Fahey: It was a very nicely rendered funeral. It looked great. Kevin Spacey was there. I mean, that’s not a good thing anymore. Oh, no. But back then, Kevin Spacey being at your funeral was a plus, I guess. Unless you were a younger actor.
Ash: Nope. Noooooooo. No.
Nathan: It wouldn’t be an episode of this iteration of Splitscreen if there wasn’t at least one off-color Fahey joke.
For all that and more, check out the episode. New episodes usually drop every Friday, and don’t forget to like and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher. Also, if you feel so inclined, leave a review, and you can always drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or to suggest a topic. If you want to yell at us directly, you can reach us on Twitter: Ash is @adashtra, Fahey is @UncleFahey, and Nathan is @Vahn16. Join us in a couple weeks, after we’ve figured out which sort of puppets to replace Nathan and Ash with.