Wolfenstein Youngblood came out in late July. It introduced us to two new heroines, sisters Sophie and Jess - a pair of violent 18-year-old girls who joyfully shoot hordes of Nazis on the streets of occupied Paris. They are the daughters of the famous fascist assassin BJ Blazkovich, who has been the star of the Wolfenstein series since 1992.
And all would be fine, but there is a problem with them - says Polygon in his material. The game does an excellent job of showing us the heroines as two interesting characters, with their own characters and problems that they need to overcome, but most of the game Sophie and Jess are standard action heroes, unremarkable and boring. And a story like this in pure combat like Wolfenstein is a bad idea, because why promise the player a good story and interesting characters if in the end he doesn't see anything? Spoilers for Youngblood follow.
Symbol of Betrayal
In character, the heroine is presented as perky, good-natured jokers. They are voiced by Shelby Young (Soph) and Valerie Rose Loman (Jess), both young girls whose voices give them realism. Their tempestuous characters are confirmed by such phrases as: "Let's fry these Nazi bastards" or "I'll kill this asshole now."
At the very beginning of the game, we get to know Sophie and Jess in a way that prepares us for the development of these characters in the future. In the first scene, Jess and his father are hunting a goat.
During this time, her father also teaches her a lesson about controlling her environment. While Jess is aiming at the animal, she has no idea that a snake is sneaking up to her, ready to rush at her. As a result, the father grabs the snake at the last moment. The lesson is good: as long as you concentrate on only one thing, you stop noticing everything that is happening around you. And if you seem to be close to your goal, it is tempting to relax your vigilance. This can play a cruel joke. At the same time, Sophie trains with her mother to perform a series of punches. At one point, she is exhausted, falls to her knees and tells her mother that she is tired and can no longer. To which she replies that if she continues to get tired, then one day, there will be one hefty Nazi who will be for a second more hardy than she, and will kill her.
We were shown that Jess is a stronger character than Sophie, but in the end this conflict ends at the very beginning of the game, or rather in the scene where Sophie cannot commit her first murder. She does not find the strength to pull the trigger and even sheds a tear. It would seem that here is a great platform for conflict between the two sisters, but no. After a few seconds, she explodes his head with a bullet, vomits and, like a cheer-leader, begins to jump and laugh. On this the conflict is settled and later the sisters will not feel any remorse, but only leave behind mountains of corpses.
Sophie, being first shown to us as a person who is not fully prepared for what awaits her, foolishly overcomes the dilemma and this problem turns into a silly joke. Except for this couple of moments, we won't see such tension again.
The situation with the second sister is identical. When Jess and Soph travel to Paris in search of their missing father, they contact French resistance fighters. Jess wonders if she is seeing the whole picture, or if there is that "snake in the grass". As a result, it turns out that the resistance is Nazi undercover, only they are exposed not by Jess, but by their friend Abby.
And when they reunite with their father, he says that he immediately saw through the Nazi ploy. But Jess is not, but there were no consequences from her inattention. As a result, this moment was also leaked according to the script.
This denial of growth throws away the feeling that these two young girls can offer a detailed story about sisters, bridging their differences, going through competition, or any number of potential narrative routes. In the end, all we get is a couple of laughing sisters who are very good at killing their enemies - mainly due to technological advances.
There is nothing wrong with a character whose sole purpose is to cause violent destruction. However, the authors initially show us that the heroines are not just dummies for shooting, introducing us to characters with the ability to grow inward, identifying their flaws and warning us about the danger that these flaws can play a cruel joke with them. And they need to grow and change to fulfill their mission.
When the sisters find their father and learn about potential other parallel realities, they briefly reflect on who they might be in an alternate paradise where the Nazis and their empire do not exist. However, these reflections are superficial and also do not reveal them in any way. Soph says that she would write a book about how two sisters find themselves on a dangerous adventure, fighting a great evil, and Jess sees himself as a hunter. And as you can see, their fantasies are no different from the world in which they already live. Even in their dreams, they cannot imagine themselves outside the roles imposed by the game designers.
I would like to see Soph and Jess again. Their relationships and their basic personalities make them fun and lovable characters. But I hope we can perceive them as real people, and not as half-empty archetypes, the main purpose of which is to facilitate the mechanics of the game, which relies heavily on co-op.
The Topic of Article: Wolfenstein Youngblood: A Sisters' Story as a Missed Opportunity.