Spoiler Zone : Kreia (english version)
Spoil : to spoil, in Internet slang, means to ruin a surprise in a movie, a game, a book. It’s an activity often practiced by trolls, more commonly known as assholes. Today, I will prove to be a big asshole, since I will spoil the whole content – or almost – of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 – The Sith Lords. This spoil is necessary to speak fully of a major character of this game. So let’s sit down together and talk about Kreia, without showing any respect for those who haven’t already played it. If that’s your case, run away … fools.
This article will only talk about spoilers for understanding its purpose. Do not come squealing at the end of the article, exclaiming: « But you spoiled KOTOR 2 for me :'( » . First, you were warned, and second, it will drive you to play it immediately. Here goes.
A function that goes beyond the notion of « character »
Kreia is a very rich character. She alone represents everything the game succeeds to do. She’s the first important character the player meets, and the last one he talks to. In religious terms, Kreia and Darth Traya are the Alpha and Omega of KOTOR 2. Her role is too important to imagine the game without her. She isn’t, however, the flashiest or the most advertised character ; her shadow, her creature Darth Nihilus took that place, proudly wearing a black robe and a mask to hide the emptiness of his soul.
Her relationship and proximity with the world we travel through therefore makes her into a real guide, a spiritual, geographical, political, philosophical one… Kreia is a Swiss army knife, an encyclopedia of knowledge that never seems to dry up. She knows everything, sees everything, up to a point that some players see her as an exasperating know-it-all, although you have to give it to her: she can be a beacon for the player in a place that wishes them only harm. Kreia is the only trail of breadcrumbs in the game, and putting her aside is taking the risk to lose the meaning of the adventure.
Kreia will never judge the player’s actions. She only observes what they are, will be, and were. Conscious of the consequences of your actions, she’ll know how to force you to question yourself, regardless of your attitude. She doesn’t care about your ideals. She won’t criticize them, unless you fall into sheer blindness and lack of discernment. She’s also there to submit an interesting possibility to players, one the game system doesn’t imply at first: « What if, instead of choosing between shadow and light, you tried to get closer to the the path of neutrality? ». In addition to all of this, she’s a game mechanic on her own, allowing the player to specialize and teaching them to train Jedis amongst their allies. Better four Jedis than one, wouldn’t you agree?
Antagonist, ally, teacher
Kreia is nothing if not multifaceted. She was a Jedi, she was a Sith. She knows the Force better than anyone, and can take different forms when she deems it necessary. If she seems a confident, noble and unyielding figure, she knows herself and will teach you to know her. She betrayed her people for her beliefs, for her great scheme, and she loves her betrayal. She loves it beyond any other love she had in her life, even beyond what she feels about you. She can’t help but betray you for her insane project, that will never reach an end : destroy the Force. She’ll see you, the Exile, as a way to end this energy that destroys the galaxy and gives «smart» beings powers they don’t deserve.
In order to expand your powers, hoping to see you destroy the Force itself in a fit of rage, she’ll hurt you in your deepest being, betraying you and even trying to cause your death. She’ll free Darth Traya, a monster of the worst kind who broke her apprentices so they would hate her, so they could hate the power that led them to this hellish existence. Sion, the monster with a broken body, lives only to hurt his mistress. He’ll chase her everywhere, trying to kill her, but will prove unable to do her more harm than a severed hand, while she has always manipulated him and Nihilus. Sion is a lost child without a mother, and if he can’t be her toy, he’ll become the threat that will hunt her forever. Unable to die, he will wait for the Exile to steal what little love Kreia could still feel for him before he dies, alone, but happy to be done with existence… And with the Force. This will require the Exile to show him the good in himself and so, seeing the man he has become, he lets himself die.
Nihilus had a more tragic fate. The Force allowed him to live eternally and have a power beyond comprehension : hunger. Not that this character eats galactic burgers every three seconds, but he has a craving for the Force. He sucks life up. His madness and his power will end up destroying everything that could remind him that there was once something alive in him. To a point that he gave up common langage to speak sith, lost all feelings from his body before losing it completely, forgot all notion of humanity to the point that he destroyed a whole planet and its species at the same time. He abducted the last living trace after the slaughter , so he could use her hate to create a powerful apprentice : Visas. This excessive power draws an army of fanatic followers – who will offer their lives to become slaves to this monster – towards him. He’ll briefly train some of them to use the Force but will save his teachings for his only weakness, that which may eventually destroy him: Visas, who may turn against him for the love of the Exile.
Kreia gave birth to your enemies, to the threat that returns to the galaxy. Yet she didn’t only create nemeses. She’s the most fearsome of them; she cleverly handles her pawns, killing and destroying everything unscrupulously, to force the Exile to become stronger, and maybe force him to control his power. If Darth Nihilus feeds on Force, the Exile absorbs it and destroys it in all its forms. It is still possible to channel this power in the young Jedi, whereas Nihilus has long lost control. You can imagine that this crisis could only end by the annihilation of Darth Traya‘s pawns, and her destruction. Things Kreia knew the first time she saw you, but maybe at that time she hoped you’d understand the beauty of her project.
A dark character, who only does evil to free the world from the dictatorship of the Force
Experience taught Kreia two things : Sith are bad, and Jedi may well be even worse. Pretending to protect people from the harmful influence of the Dark Side, they are commited to an idea of purity that actually conceals real political ambitions, even the birth of a cult of the Order, flirting with religious extremism. Evil is in every human being. Mankind is attracted by vice, lust, error, and must yield to them in order to progress. Containing all of this would doom it to become unstable , empty of any positive emotion. Besides, emotions are rejected by Jedis. Sith feed on hate and passion and are fueled by excessive emotions, resulting in a loss of bearings and self-control. Kreia saw both sides and noticed they were no more than men abusing powers and deciding the fate of innocent people.
No being in this world can carry the burden of such powers without heading down a slippery slope. Not even her. « With great power comes great responsibility ». No living being can bear such great responsibility. And if power is innate in children, it must be smothered so they turn away from it, or they will fall into the trap of their fellows. Not because they lack wisdom or experience – but because they’re simply not gods. A human could not enjoy such power properly. Better destroy the source of the galaxy’s and commoners’ misfortune ; they’re more numerous, and the pragmatic choice goes to destroy the Force.
For it, all means are good. All pupils with potential to maybe, one day, destroy the Force, or even weaken it, will be expendable. And little by little, the Force will wither and disappear. Revan was the first monster. Sion the second. Nihilus the third. And the Exile was chosen by history to end Darh Traya‘s madness. Anyway, the Force is and remains the energy allowing the world to exist. Her project is doomed to fail or to the end of times. A dilemma she seems to be aware of, but that doesn’t affect her. Her existence is and will be devoted to the destruction of the Force.
So, Kreia is human. Yes, she has flaws. She is conscious of the absurdity of existence and seems willing to put an end to it. Nihilistic, our little Sith master of treason ? Obviously. It’s her biggest flaw, if indeed it’s really one.
A character with « echoes » in everyone
When Kreia is no longer present in dialog phases, her shadow is cast over the speechs. The Exile‘s companions will comment his relationship with his master, they won’t hesitate to warn him. Especially Visas who, without seeing clearly in Kreia‘s obscure game, will understand she means harm to her beloved one. Notice that Kreia will comment on possible love relationships you can develop with your companions, advising against that kind of attachment in favour of studying the world. In reality, she doesn’t want to find in one of the Exile‘s companions a rival she won’t be able to mannipulate, because she’ll manipulate even your closest friends… unless you do before her.
This interplay of influences is also part of the echoes Kreia creates. We find them in another character she’ll easily manipulate and turn agains you, because he’s in love with your force and who you are deep within . Atris can try to hide it, the love she feels for you is real. She’ll feel much jealousy for one of the hero’s friends, if you play a male character. Her jealousy will switch her to the Dark Side, leading her to try to kill her closest disciple. Unless this disciple learn enough from you to defeat her former mentor.
Kreia is everywhere in KOTOR 2. Not because she’s physically everywhere, but because she’s an image of the context in which the player is. Without real bearings, disillusioned, she wanders in this world searching for a way to solve a fruitless objective. Kreia is conscious everything she’ll undertake to destroy the Force is doomed to failure, but she will still try – perfect tragic character, she’ll die for the last idea to haunt her mind. And only when she has completely failed, she’ll admit admiring the Exile for his tenacity, his devotion to existence, and everything she has to offer. I told you that KOTOR 2 was fabulous !
Another interesting echo. Darth Traya wished to destroy the Force with help from her two most monstrous disciples. She formed a Triumvirat in order to create an eternal Sith order, but her ambition was quite different. Her apprentices unmasked her, broke her, cutting her bond with the Force, echoing the Exile‘s weakness in the beginning of the adventure, creating a most pertinent mirror, master and apprentice being equally weak and broken.
« You were deafened… » « At last, you could hear… »
Writing this brings me back two years ago, when I wrote a complete review of KOTOR 2, a game about which I’ll never manage to dry up. I’ll not hide from you that I often questioned its status in my mind, and doubted many times. And many times, it proved to me that it will never really be off my mind. It was the starting point of a devouring passion. However, years go by, and I realize I can get away from it. Before I got completly out of it, to the benefit of other titles that already started to influence me (…first and third The Witcher, Metal Gear Solid V…), it remains, as of today, my favorite game. The most important stone to my cultural edifice.
I was deaf but I could hear. It’s metaphorical, but it’s very true. KOTOR 2 is the first game that made me understand what is writing, real author work. Building a dialog, a conversation, defending it, communicating the best possible way through elements. And the major element that Kreia is in this broken masterpiece, is a beauty, a richness like no other. I tend to exaggerate much, but Kreia is certainly the most important fiction character of my existence, and will surely remain so forever ; she benefited from the passing time to deliver her full potential. Kreia deserved this not-so-long article, which barely start to unveil the richness of the character and to understand her.
Maybe it’s what is almost creepy : the relationship I have with KOTOR 2 is peculiar ; I drew life lessons from Kreia. As I was younger, I was like everyone – I naively and stupidly thought kindness brings only kindness, and wickedness brings nothing but wickedness. Two serious mistakes, because it’s simply impossible to sort actions in any category. You may start to understand the significance this game had for me, and why I mention it repeatedly and ‘worship’ it. KOTOR 2 is very smart, using a universe everyone knows, offering a rich and complex story accessible to a child, a story he will remember and rediscover throughout his life.
It’s a game that accompanied me since 2009, and which still has an important place in my imagination and my personal ambitions. Avellone gave birth to such a game, his absence on the Pillars of Eternity project has finished discrediting it to me. I’m not interested in Obsidian without Avellone. That’s why KOTOR 2, Fallout New Vegas and Alpha Protocol have and will forever have a place in the history of video games ; Avellone‘s talent is necessary to Obsidian games to access posterity. Proof, eleven years after, a article about KOTOR 2 is written… and maybe more articles on the two others will be, who knows ?
I would have had a hard time writing a shorter text, but doing it longer would have been a breeze. The final part of this paper highlights the fact that Kreia isn’t a character of the game, but the fruit of labor of the title. Creating a protagonist rich and interesting enough to go beyond the scope of the work, and able to move the player. Kreia is an exemple of mastery and of the awareness of the work needed to leave an imprint on the player. She’s an absolute reference character that was never drawn near in quality. KOTOR 2 will maybe be gone one day from my mind, but Kreia will stay in my memory, as a reminder when I’ll find another well-written character. I have a reflex mantra in my mind when I like a character from another fiction : « Well, it’s a cool one, but it’s not Kreia ».