(Mass Effect 2 spoilers ahead.)
I haven't played Mass Effect 3 yet. As a big fan of the franchise, I've been meaning to. But I had a very important task at hand before tackling the last game in the trilogy. I needed to replay Mass Effect 2.
In my first playthrough of the sequel, I felt a bit rushed. I was on a tight review schedule and didn't analyse every facet of the game as meticulously as I would've liked. So, forgoing some very important ship upgrades, I fell victim to a sloppy mistake and lost some of my teammates. And I lost someone very important to me.
If you aren't a stranger to BioWare's Mass Effect franchise — or, heck, just BioWare games in general — you'll know that the companions you gather along your adventures can become your friends, and these friendships can even develop into romantic relationships.
My female Shepard initially took to Garrus, a blue, Turian alien who had battled with me through the treacheries of the first instalment in the action/RPG franchise. We had memories together. We fought together. We helped each other through our desperate situations by cracking jokes and complimenting each other's skills with weapons. Basically, we bonded.
But not all meaningful relationships have to become romantic. I realised that Garrus wasn't meant for one of those relationships with me when I started to pursue a romance with him in Mass Effect 2. He was nervous. He fumbled with his words and immediately started contemplating the science of interspecies intercourse. He turned what I wanted to be sweet and playful flirtation into what felt like cold analysis. At best he would say these things to me in a cooing voice. Don't get me wrong, I still loved Garrus. But I realised that while he was a trustworthy friend, someone I could rely on, he wouldn't be able to give me the relationship I wanted.
And I had no hesitation about that thought once I met Thane. Being an assassin, Thane is cool and collected. He's thoughtful and pensive. He typically keeps to himself, but he's easy to talk to once you sit down with him. He has an interesting background and even more interesting perspectives on life and his career. I don't agree with his spiritual beliefs, but I respect his dedication to them. I wanted to hear every story he had to tell me. About how he met his first wife, and about his feelings towards his son. He called me "Siha" and explained that it meant a warrior angel. I like the sound of the term of endearment he chose for me, and I like its definition even more. Thane is a romantic. He is also a poet, and a philosopher. Plus, he dresses pretty well.
But this would be a complicated relationship. Thane, like all Drell, is susceptible to Kepral's Syndrome, which is something of a respiratory disease. He knows he is going to die some time in the foreseeable future. He's told me as much. But Shepard can't help but fall in love with him regardless.
To my great dismay, Thane didn't survive the trip through Omega 4 Relay. I didn't realise how critical the ship upgrades would be. Worse still was that I had to watch as he and a few others died during a cinematic cut scene, completely out of my control. I'd spent hours with these people, helping them with their respective missions, lending both my rifle and my shoulder for support. After all that, it only took a few seconds and a few lucky hits of a laser to wipe them from my universe's existence.
I knew that I'd be replaying Mass Effect 2 before the final game came out. There was no way I was going to go through Mass Effect 3 without Thane. Jack was a loss. Legion I could live without. But Thane? Thane was worth another 40 hours of my gaming time.
I took the opportunity to complete every side mission, every dialogue option, and every single upgrade. It didn't matter if it was for a shotgun I'd never use. I spent hours mining resources from planets for it anyway. I wasn't going to leave one stone unturned. Not this time.
I wanted to hear more of his sweet nothings. I wanted to see how our relationship would continue to evolve. I wanted to either watch the world burn, or watch it come to a victory with Thane at my side in Mass Effect 3.
Here's the kicker: Thane survived, but I didn't even get to romance him. I screwed up some other decisions while trying to keep him alive. You should have seen my frustration while I was about to embark on the Omega 4 Relay mission for a second time, knowing that it wouldn't end in Thane sex. I looked through my save files and figured out that I'd have to backtrack about 13 hours to rectify this offence. Thane was worth the extra 40 hours. Another 13, though? Nah. 80 was enough.