Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Marie in a Refrigerator?

Marie Belmont: A white, brown-haired woman wearing a pale pink medieval style dress turns her head to the side sadly, with her eyes closed. She holds a blue rose at her side.

Marie Belmont: A white, brown-haired woman wearing a pale pink medieval style dress turns her head to the side sadly, with her eyes closed. She holds a blue rose at her side.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow was released last week, and I’d like to share some first impressions about the story from roughly the first 30 minutes of play. Specifically, I want to discuss the only female character introduced in the game thus far.

The story, a reboot of the Castlevania franchise, is pretty typical of a lot of videogames: you are Gabriel Belmont, a (presumably) straight, white male, whose love interest, Marie (a (presumably) straight, white woman), was murdered by evil monsters. She’s dead and you’re really sad. What’s really sad is that before the plot even has an opportunity to start twisting, the first woman introduced in the story (via a dream sequence) is in a refrigerator (well, she’s technically between life and death, however she’s sufficiently incapacitated enough, given that only Gabriel can save her, that I think this counts as a fridging). Also, you are so angry that the evil monsters killed your wife, you want revenge. Apparently being a member of the Brotherhood of Light (warriors who fight against supernatural evils in the land), and being against evil monsters in general is not enough motivation to go kill those monsters.

I haven’t played a Castlevania game since Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and like Lords of Shadow, the protagonist in Symphony of the Night, Alucard, is motivated to destroy Dracula because of the death of a loved one (as corrected in the comments). The other two Castlevania games I’ve played, Castlevania and Castlevania: The Adventure, were also not particularly strong in terms of storytelling, however Simon Belmont and Christopher Belmont, respectively, were motivated to fight evil (Dracula) because evil is bad and causes suffering in lots of people. I wasn’t expecting an innovative plot from Lords of Shadow, but the women in refrigerators trope existing in this game still deserves a call out whenever possible because it is annoying, and maybe someone will get a clue, so in the future they may stop annoying people with this boringness if it gets called out enough times. Creators need to find other ways to add depth to a lead character and to make him or her more interesting than killing off or seriously injuring their significant other or loved one. This shit is getting old. That said, I’m holding on to a shred of hope that Marie turns out to be more than Gabriel Belmont’s reason for character and personality development.

[This post was excerpted from a longer post covering broad game play first impressions on my personal blog.]

14 thoughts on “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow: Marie in a Refrigerator?”

  1. “That said, I’m holding on to a shred of hope that Marie turns out to be more than Gabriel Belmont’s reason for character and personality development.”

    And if she is developed more, let us how that it is not a simple “she was evil” reveal, that is equally cliche. Representing woman as only a dichotomy of passive/good vs active/evil is equally terrible. Plus boring.

  2. @Doug S come on now, I think we’d all just like it more if game makers stopped making plots about saving a SO, or getting revenge for a SO. It’s just such a tired worn out plot.

    Dead Rising 2 killed off the protagonist’s wife before the game began as well, but this was never a motivator for revenge for the protagonist, it was more or less an explanation for why the protagonist was a single father. Still, stupid, they underestimate their audience, much more interesting things could have been done, like the mother couldn’t handle the day to day stress of dealing with a child who is infected and needs daily shots to keep from becoming a zombie. Perhaps the relationship just didn’t work out, and the time frame the game takes place in just happens to be his weekend?

    It’s pretty amazing that a 2-bit hack like me can come up with several more interesting scenarios than “spouse /significant other is dead” in the span of a few minutes, but the industry just returns to the tired old Women in Refrigerator trope time and again.

  3. I got this game spoiled for me and while I wont make it too obvious one of the ‘twists’ in the dead love interest plot I totally called right from the 2nd trailer.

    Gees Louise there’s only so much that can be done with the ‘rescue/avenge’ you love interest plot, it’s bloody boring and predictable now and I am bewildered that anybody still uses it at all.
    By contrast a hero who fights evil because evil is bad is used relatively less and would have made the question ‘what makes a man fight dangerous monsters when others will not?’ a FAAAAR more interesting question.

  4. “By contrast a hero who fights evil because evil is bad is used relatively less and would have made the question ‘what makes a man fight dangerous monsters when others will not?’ a FAAAAR more interesting question.”

    I’m starting to wonder if mainstream pop culture writers are even ABLE to grasp a concept of universal morality and duty anymore… if they ever were.

  5. This is exactly the same type of plot that was used in the PS2 Castlevanias. Nice reboot, westerners. Castlevania, now with even less creativity!

    Refridged women and damsels in distress are so overused, and yet, it doesn’t seem too logical. While “save the princess” and “avenge your wife” is such a staple motivation for male characters, the player are ususally not given much reason the care about the girl you are fighting for. What was her personality, what kind of relationship did she and the hero have? That sort of thing is never given much if any attention. So why should we care about the disposable women?

  6. Symphony of the Night wasn’t about Alucard saving a loved one or a dead loved one. He went into the castle because his friend Richter was missing and the castle had reappeared only after a short time and not the 100 year wait. As far as I remember the female character Maria never gets kidnapped, she wants to save Richter too and is a playable character is the Saturn version of the game. The person that died is Lisa (Misa) which was Alucard’s mother and she was killed a long time ago by the local villagers, which a succubus uses to try and sway him to Dracula’s side. (Doesn’t work) The death of Lisa(Misa) is the reason Dracula is going out and causing all the misery and strife in the first place from a few hundred years ago.

  7. The story in Symphony of the Night (PS1) wasn’t actually all that clear, so I’m assuming you’re pulling information from other sources. The only thing I remember at the start is Richter beind defeated and Alucard being dropped into the castle. There was no story about their friendship to my recollection. The next few instances of story happen when you meet Death (not particularly informative WRT the story) and then the Succubus, Shaft, and finally Dracula. Each subsequent scene, as far as I remember, doesn’t mention anything about Richter or Alucard being friends.

    The reason that Alucard went into hibernation was because due to his grief over the death of his mother. It seemed like this long sleep was kind of a big deal in the game. He didn’t wanted to be involved in the human world any longer because of what happened to his mother. I’d argue that Alucad’s mother’s death is a significant thing in Alucard’s life and is a reason that Alucard does some of the things he does, including going into hibernation and being motivated to kill his father.

    By your reasoning, the death of Alucard’s mother (another woman in refrigerator) responsible for Dracula’s character development, a turning point in Dracula’s life–and a reason for his particular character progression.

  8. Symphony of the Night is a sequel to Rondo of Blood, which wasn’t realesed in the West (until 2007.) Richter and Maria were the heroes of that game. In Symphony of the Night, Richter has mysteriously vanished and Maria is looking for him. Dracula’s castle has re-appeared, Alucard wakes up to confront his father again and be the main character. In the castle he encounters Richter who is now brainwashed by the enemy, as well as Maria who is looking for her old friend. Alucard didn’t know these characters before, and the player is supposed to know who they are because of Rondo of Blood…which few western players had heard of before 2007.

  9. The most depressing thing about this is that there really is no need for Marie to be in the refrigerator. Gabriel is meant to be in an order designed to fight these monsters, the whole “my wife is dead, I must seek revenge” story is completely unnecessary as well as being over done to death. I guess it should be said that this game doesn’t really seem to be focussing on it’s storytelling.

  10. Let’s not forget Marie from Silent Hill 2 – though her being dead was an important plot point since it turns out that James himself put her in the fridge.

    Mono in Shadow of the Colossus also works because it makes Wander’s motives less selfish than if he had gone to the Forbidden Lands to gain great power or wealth.

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