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  3. Can We Stop Acting Like this Game Presents a Morally Gray Story Yet?(spoilers)

User Info: lowell666

lowell666
5 days ago#1
Seriously, this game is fairly straightforward good versus bad story.

A morally gray story would be if every faction had a reason to fight against each other. Or if there were reasonably equal but different costs on each faction winning. But there isn't. The game is literally Edelgard V Everyone Else. And regardless of who wins between SS, BL, or VW, the future of Fodlan is more or less the same. While Crimson Flower has you cut a path of death to conquer Fodlan in a war Edelgard herself had started in a peaceful continent, to shake up a status quo that was in no dire need of change (though change itself was indeed needed)

In 3/4 routes, Edelgard is the unquestioned antagonist. In the remaining 1 route, it's a Rhea who was pushed into insanity as a direct result of Edelgard's actions and Byleth's betrayal. And again, regardless of route, every other faction is against Edelgard, even if they're not working together.

Where is the grayness of this story? It's effectively no different than any other Fire Emblem story.

Now let's look at the characters themselves:

Claude: Unambiguously good. Likes to put up a front as some kind of dirty fighter, but would rather avoid seriously hurting others if he can. Outside of his route, Claude's primary mission is to keep the people of the Alliance safe. He's far more defensive without Byleth, but only because he's fairly certain he'd get bodied on his own. His worst trait is that he can't help prying to get people's secrets. Which is kind of dickish, sure, but far from evil, and is sometimes justified, like with Jeralt's diary and pushing Rhea for info about the Slithers. He's kinda edgy by FE vanilla protag standards, but nowhere near gray morally.

Dimitri: Also, a pretty all around stand up guy. He has his demons sure, but this is narratively framed as a bad thing he really needs to get over. Outside of his route, he's an angry murder hobo, and this tends to get him killed. Yet even in CF, he's still sane enough to call out Edelgard out on her s***, even if he is blind to how far Rhea is slipping. Inside his route, he's a massive a****** who's done some messed up s***, but again, this is framed as a bad thing. And once he gets his act together, he's pretty much unquestionably good the rest of the story. That's not a morally gray character. That's just a flawed hero with a character arc.

This ran on SUPER long. so next up, Rhea and Edelgard.
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User Info: lowell666

lowell666
5 days ago#2
Edelgard: Edelgard is the main antagonist of the game (outside of her own.route obviously). She has good intentions for starting the war, but a combination of the steps she takes to accomplish her goals, as well as the given context of Fodlan's situation, makes her far more on the darker side of gray than the writers probably planned. The main issue with Edelgard is of course, are Those who Slither in the Dark. Her alliance with them essentially make her guilty by association. Regardless of how she felt about the things they did, she was willing to let them run around with impunity as long as she found them useful. And while she always planned to deal with them, this would only be after many, MANY innocent lives were lost as she sat idly by. Having a "ends justifies the means" mentality CAN be morally gray, but when the means include a f***load of lives, that's just being a straight up villain.
On top of this, Edelgard is also far too myopic and stubborn to even consider any other option, and would rather choose death than live in a different world than the one she envisioned. Having Byleth reigns her in quite a bit. But this creates another issue of the game whitewashing Edelgard's actions by justifying her war with a self fulfilling prophecy by making Rhea evil. Edelgard is "technically gray". As in, not quite black, but you probably couldn't tell from a distance. Honestly, the ONLY thing keeping Edelgard out of the pure black area of morality is that she genuinely believes in creating a peaceful future for the country. But hey, so did Walhart. Just saying.

And finally, Rhea: This is honestly another problem the writers had in regards to Edelgard. They didn't really do a good enough job painting Rhea as some kind of evil lizard controlling Fodlan. If any character truly represents the gray area, it's Rhea. Rhea established the crest system and rewrote history so that those who bore crests would be seen as special instead of the descendants of the a******s who slaughtered her family. This system was then abused by the nobles who had them because of course they would do that. This is supposed to be blamed on Rhea when it's just humans being humans. If not for crest, they would still have their money being their power. The Church of Seiros isn't particularly oppressive. People are free to not believe. The knights only go out when asked or if a threat to them emerges, they mediate between warring factions, and they will happily take in refugees without issue. It seems the only real problem of the religion is that it seems to discourage mingling with outside territories, but Rhea herself seems to be fine with INDIVIDUALS from those territories coming to Fodlan (Cyril and Shamir).
They're also not shown to be as powerful as Edelgard claims them to be. While the Kingdom and Alliance do follow the church to some extent, there's no real rule that says they HAVE to. At no point are we given a reason to believe that Rhea holds any actual say in how the main three run their territories. Logistically speaking, it seems unlikely. But let's get back to Rhea herself. Another big problem with Rhea is her obsession with resurrecting her mother, who she sees as the only one truly able to lead Fodlan. And to accomplish this goal she turns to human experimentation. The exact details are hazy, but if we assume the worse, she's taking her followers and trying to use them as vessels for Sothis. But compared to the Slither's crest experiments, her seem far less cruel, as she simply let's them go if they are incompatible. And we aren't shown anyone really suffering from her experiments. Rhea is an example of a morally gray character done right imo. She's a believably written good person who does some shady s*** in pursuit of a noble goal, the story acknowledges that shady s*** and doesn't try to excuse or justify it, and in the end, she acknowledges that what she did was wrong and steps down. Or dies. And yet she gets far less screentime than anyone else..
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User Info: lowell666

lowell666
5 days ago#3
I'm not really gonna bother with CF Rhea. She basically exists to make Edelgard look like the good guy in comparison.

To wrap this up; I get it guys, you want a complex story with morally gray characters where you can't really say who's right and whose wrong. But this isn't it. Edelgard's methods are wrong. She's the villain of this story. The writers did a poor job justifying her war. Neither Dimitri or Claude have any issue with each other. And while Claude may have issue with Rhea being at the head of the church, he also acknowledges that it's not so serious as to start a war to overthrow her. And Crimson Flower was a mistake; taking all of the problems and missed potential of the story and putting it at the forefront.

The story is not morally gray. These characters aren't morally gray aside from Rhea. It's the same good versus evil story they've been cranking out for nearly 30 years. And that's okay. But let's not make this game's story bigger than it is.
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User Info: katella

katella
5 days ago#4
If it was straightforward like you say, there wouldn’t be as much controversy or an Edelgard or Rhea thread every day.

This is the most effort this fanbase has placed in the plot(with the obvious exclusion of people’s distaste with Fates) in a relatively serious light.
(edited 5 days ago)

User Info: BloodMoon7

BloodMoon7
5 days ago#5
That's like...3 full posts ma dude. You ok?
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User Info: katella

katella
5 days ago#6
BloodMoon7 posted...
That's like...3 full posts ma dude. You ok?


It’s a lot of effort for a supposed straightforward good vs evil plot.

User Info: Brucie_Jones

Brucie_Jones
5 days ago#7
Agreed. The game is attempting moral ambiguity, but the writing is not good enough to actually follow through on that. Writing conflict between three or more parties is difficult enough as it is, but to make them all come across as equally (or at least similarly) valid was highly ambitious. The Golden Deer may as well have not existed for all that they brought to the plot. Personally I would have preferred one strong, coherent story-line to follow rather than four half-baked ones that barely differ anyway.

User Info: Decapre

Decapre
5 days ago#8
The entire problem with Edelgard is she waged war against the wrong faction & dies in every path except her own because main character.
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User Info: TrustyPeaches

TrustyPeaches
5 days ago#9
I think the "moral grayness" people are referring to is developing a cast of likable characters and forcing the player to kill them in act 2.

The game places heavy emphasis on the horrors of war and the heavy emotional toll it takes, especially when fighting against people you know.

This isn't really moral ambiguity but I get the sense that's what people are talking about when they talk about the complex emotions and doubt the story instilled.
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User Info: lowell666

lowell666
5 days ago#10
katella posted...
If it was straightforward like you say, there wouldn’t be as much controversy or an Edelgard or Rhea thread every day.

This is the most effort this fanbase has placed in the plot(with the obvious exclusion of people’s distaste with Fates) in a relatively serious light.


You can have a bunch of people in a room being wrong

<insert obvious political joke here>

The point I’m trying to make is that there is a whole lot of controversy when there really shouldn’t be.
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(edited 5 days ago)
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