Girl in the Machine
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Alice Elliot's Divinity

The Messiah of Shadow Hearts

Out of all of the soft-spoken, kind heroines in role playing games, Alice Elliot may be my favorite. She supports Yuri in the first Shadow Hearts game, and she holds within her the powers of light that maniacs like Albert Simon need to dominate the world.

Messianic women aren't terribly unique in the role playing genre, but let's take a look at Alice's credibility.

To start with basic information from the storyline, we know from the beginning that Alice is the daughter of Father Morris Elliot. She began hearing otherworldly voices at a young age, and so she assisted her father with exorcisms. She has a natural connection to the spiritual world shared only by the powerful Koudelka herself. It is this kind of power, different from the dark-elemental mysticism tied to Koudelka, that makes Alice so valuable to Albert Simon.

In one of the game's most pivotal scenes, Alice enters the graveyard (the dark place in Yuri's mind from which his fusions originate) and sacrifices herself to the spirit Atman in order to protect his life. If we follow the canonical "sad ending" that leads to Shadow Hearts: Covenant, we know that she will fight Atman alone and lose to it; this act of martyrdom leads to rapid deterioration of her health and her death at the end of the game in order to save Yuri.

Her character's element is light, and she uses primarily healing class magic during battle. Her two attack spells, Blessed Light and Advent, are the only offensive light spells available outside of Yuri's fusions.

Her weapons are holy books. She begins the game with a small Bible, progressing trough other texts like the Tome of the Shooting Stars, the Tome of the Sun, and the Holy Book of Flesh. Her best armor is the Gold Thread Coat, "a long robe filled with the memories of martyrs past. The wearer feels as if she is wrapped in a warm light."

In addition, the game's cinema scenes often show her face cast in light. Back in the early days of the PS2, I know for some gamers it's tough to see past the now-deficient graphics, but the cinematic elements are there, and they carry over into Shadow Hearts: Covenant.

I don't know what it is about Alice that makes her stand out in my mind as such a successful divine heroine. Characters like Yuna and Colette sicken me with their blind devotion to their tasks, so I appreciate seeing how Alice is rounded out by her experiences from her beginnings fleeing Simon, struggling to save Yuri, and resolutely standing against her foes. I think it may be the single-minded determination of other characters like Yuna and Colette that make them so frustrating for me. To call them dynamic characters is to misuse the term.

I also find myself wondering when and where we see male characters that act in this way--not just the so-called knights in shining armor who come to save the day and rescue the girl, but quiet men who make a stand and are willing to lay their life down to protect others without turning into annoying bad asses. Can anyone think of someone?

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 Posted by Calabar
 9:38 AM + Link to this post
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