Diablo 4’s Act 1 Vhenard and Neyrelle Storyline Broke My Asian Heart

Diablo 4 surprised me in many ways, not least because I actually enjoy it. I’ve been steadily working my way through the first three acts and I believe I’m near the middle. I refuse to fact check this because I avoid spoilers like the plague. If you’re doing the same, it’s obviously best not to read this until you’ve finished Act 1 of Diablo 4.

In Act 1, you meet the damsel in distress Neyrelle, whose mother Vhenard followed Lilith to the mining camp. He asks for your help and you, accompanied by Neyrella and a knight named Vigo, make your way through the mines together. You end up fighting the dying knight inside, who tells you that Lilith has taken Vhenard deeper into the cave and that you should go get help. Vigo agrees – Neyrelle doesn’t. Vigo leaves and the two continue deeper into the caves until they finally find Vhenard, driven mad by Lilith’s influence and writing on the floor with his own blood. Neyrelle tries to talk her out of it, but they end up fighting and you have to kill her.


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However, this is not the last we will hear of Vhenard. Later in the act, you will return to the caves where you found Vhenard trying to cross the lake, preventing you from continuing your search for Lilith. Neyrelle tells you that she has a plan and begins a ritual so that she can revive her mother. It works! Let’s say. Vhenard stumbles and can’t hold himself. She tells her daughter that her body is now just a shell and that Neyrelle must let her go so that her spirit can move on. Heartbreakingly, as she dies for the second time, she says, “Neyrelle…you were so loved.”

Neyrelle from Diablo 4.

This probably didn’t affect everyone as much as it did me because Neyrelle and Vhenard are East Asian. I wasn’t sure at first, given that my only evidence was a low-light shot of Neyrella, but the first time I heard Vhenard’s voice, it reminded me of the way my mother spoke English. When Vhenard told her daughter that she loved her, I was immediately reminded of Everything Everywhere and Everything at Once, another movie with Asian characters that left a deep impression on me. I realized that Vhenard’s accent sounded just like Michelle Yeoh, and they were both Asian women who loved their children very much.

Don’t worry, I won’t get into mommy problems. But I felt like moments like this are why representation in video games is important, even if race isn’t a big part of their story. For other players, it could be just as impactful as it would tell a story of corruption, the grief and trauma of youth and the loss of a loved one. But for me it was some of that and something deeper. For the first time in a long time, I saw myself represented on the screen of a triple-A game, and it felt like the studios were finally acknowledging people like me, but it also made my chest hurt. I realized how much I had been missing out on due to the gaming industry’s longstanding resistance to diversity, a resistance that has only begun to loosen in the past few years. I’m glad it is, because looking at Neyrelle and Vhenard makes me see what they could be with their own mother in an alternate, scary universe—two partners in crime torn apart by forces beyond our control.

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