April Ryan

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April Ryan
The Longest Journey character
Evolution of April Ryan.png
First game The Longest Journey (1999)
Created by Ragnar Tørnquist
Voiced by Sarah Hamilton

April Ryan is a fictional character from the adventure game The Longest Journey (1999) and its sequel Dreamfall: The Longest Journey (2006). In the former, she is the protagonist, and in the latter, one of the three primary characters. April has been praised as one of the most memorable female characters in the history of adventure games. In both games she is voiced by an American actress Sarah Hamilton.[1]

Character design[edit]

Writer of The Longest Journey Ragnar Tørnquist compared April in TLJ to "young inexperienced" Frodo Baggins, whereas in Dreamfall she developed into an "Aragorn type character".[2] Journalist Randy Sluganski described her adventure in TLJ as "a rite of passage; a maturation from the indecisive, self-deprecating teenage years into a hesitant adulthood that is at first shunned and then gradually embraced".[3] One of the traits that helped the player to identify and empathize with April Ryan - a much praised concept[4] - was that she kept a diary. Unlike Zoë Castillo's diary, April's diary contains more self-revelations and allows much deeper insight in its owner's character and background, allowing the player to trace her personal development.

Tørnquist stated that he did not create April as a female protagonist to reach the female adventure gaming audience, but because a female lead was a better fit to a story where progress is as much about empathy and helping people out.[1] Tørnquist, with his co-writer of Dreamfall Dag Sheve, commented that in terms of losing faith (a recurring theme in the game), April went further than the other two primary characters, resulting in her "actual death". Tørnquist, however, stressed the ambiguity of the term "actual death", refused to explicitly confirm her status, and added that "her influence is not fully played out. It is her story, all the way through".[5]

Fictional biography[edit]

April Ryan is a human daughter of the White of the Draic Kin (Dragons), the Mother. It is unknown who her father is, or even if she has one. She is a painter and artist in the world of Stark. Whether April was born in Arcadia or Stark is not known; but shortly after her birth in April 14, 2191 by Stark reckoning, she was adopted into a normal human family that lived somewhere in the continental United States. Her adoptive father was often inebriated and beat her as a child. His antipathy is later revealed to sterm from the fact that he dropped April on the floor when she was very little, which severely injured her legs, with doctors doubting that she ever would be able to walk. To suppress his guilt, he started ignoring her henceforth; but as she made a completely unexpected and quick recovery, he felt that she was mocking him and began to blame her for his own misery. Despite April's bad relationship with her father, she has always been on good terms with her adoptive mother and rarely had quarrels with her two brothers, Danny and Owen. After turning 18 April left her adoptive family forever, after having one last row with her father, wherein he was injured. Without a word of goodbye to her mother, April left for Newport, an industrial megapolis.

At the beginning of The Longest Journey, as a resident of the technology-driven world, Stark, she discovers that she is a Shifter - a person with the power to move between worlds. Her journey begins when she unwittingly transports herself to the magical Arcadia. She is the daughter of the White Dragon, as she herself felt a connection between the two of them and it is confirmed by the White Dragon. Moreover, her Stark parents adopted her. April is prophesied from all four species holding the parts of the disc as being the savior who will restore the balance, only to finally break it.

April (described on the promotional posters with a tagline "Rebel, Emissary, Chosen") returns in Dreamfall one of the three protagonists the game. After her success in The Longest Journey, she was left without a purpose, and chose to join the effort to liberate the Northlands from the occupation by the Azadi (Persian: freedom‎) Empire. She has turned her back on her former world of Stark and considers herself a citizen of Arcadia now.

Reception[edit]

April Ryan (sometimes, along with her Dreamfall counterpart Zoë Castillo) is considered one of the most memorable characters in the history of adventure games.[6][7] Although she is represented with strongly feminine attributes, she is also part of a trend of strong, beautiful women in a variety of media that do not depend on men to achieve heroic deeds.[8] She has been compared to Tomb Raider protagonist Lara Croft in that respect; April shows less prominent physical feminine attributes than Lara, but more feminine psychological traits as contrasted with Lara's masculine connotations like aggressiveness and force.[9] Hamilton's performance has been praised as "superb" and capturing the "inflection nuances that allow us to believe in April's growth as a woman."[3]

In 2000, Eurogamer nominated April for the annual Gaming Globes awards in the category Female Lead Character.[10] She was included on the list of 50 greatest female video characters by Tom's Games in 2007,[11] as well as ranked 61st on the list of best heroes in entertainment by UGO.com in 2010[12] and as the 45th greatest heroine in video game history by Complex.com in 2013.[13] In 2012, she was also listed as the fifth sexiest "video game girl" by Revision3.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Randy Sluganski. "Interview with Ragnar Tørnquist". JustAdventure.com. Archived from the original on 2011-06-10. Retrieved 2006-08-03. 
  2. ^ Woodard, Christopher (2006-04-03). "The Second Longest Journey: Interview with Ragnar Tornquist". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 21 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  3. ^ a b Randy Sluganski. "The Longest Journey". JustAdventure.com. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-02. 
  4. ^ R. Michael Harman (2001-05-14). "The Reluctant Heroine". Strange Horizons. Archived from the original on 5 December 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-14. What makes the game unique is the believability of the young heroine. 
  5. ^ Walker, John (2008-08-20). "Ragnar Tørnquist On… Dreamfall & Faith". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Archived from the original on 22 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  6. ^ Greg Kasavin (2006-04-18). "Dreamfall review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 3 December 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-14. The Longest Journey introduced one of gaming's most memorable heroines, a smart and resourceful young woman named April Ryan. 
  7. ^ Sean Molloy (2004-02-23). "The Longest Journey review". GamePro. Archived from the original on 2010-03-08. Retrieved 2006-12-14. April Ryan is one of the strongest, most well-written, and most likeable heroines ever to point-and-click her way around a PC game. 
  8. ^ Egenfeldt-Nielsen, Simon; Smith, Jonas Heide; Pajares Tosca, Susana (2008). "Player culture". Understanding video games: the essential introduction. Taylor & Francis. p. 163. ISBN 978-0-415-97721-0. Retrieved 2011-07-03. We would immediately comment on her tight clothes, her full breasts and her big innocent eyes and sensuous mouth and it would be easy to conclude that she was a sex object and a passive figure." "April Ryan [...] makes decisions that can alter the fate of the world and engages in dangerous action without depending on men. 
  9. ^ Lie, Merete. "Lara Croft and her sisters". Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Retrieved 2011-07-03. She is attractive, but no sex bomb ... April may, however, appear as more feminine because even if she is tough and brave, she is depicted as both sensitive and vain. 
  10. ^ Gaming Globes 2000 - (5/19) | Eurogamer
  11. ^ "Pictures of the album: The 50-Greatest Female Characters in the History of Video Games". Tom's Games. Retrieved 2012-02-20. 
  12. ^ UGO Team. "Best Heroes of All Time". UGO Networks. 
  13. ^ Rougeau, Michael (March 4, 2013). "50 Greatest Heroines In Video Game History". Complex. Retrieved March 24, 2013. 
  14. ^ Nixie Pixel, The 7 Sexiest Video Game Girls, Revision3, September 27th, 2012.