This isn’t really a review or anything, just some things I’d like to say about my favorite game: Life is Strange.
I think the first time I saw this game was when I was looking at various let’s players on Youtube. I distinctly remember seeing a thumbnail of someone’s let’s play of the game back when only episode 1 was released, and I just ignored it.
Flash forward to last year, I was sitting down in front of my computer wondering “What am I gonna play?” At that time, I believe Steam was having a minor sale, but I knew I probably could not run most of the games due to my poor 4gb ram. And other games did not pique my interest. I was completely fazed out of the shooting, killing, looting, beat-em-upping aspects of the games. I think at that time I had also finished playing Half Life 2 and Sleeping Dogs. I was bored out of my mind when I saw the sale for Life is Strange.
Oddly enough, I realized the video I saw of Life is Strange all those years ago wasn’t in fact Life is Strange at all, rather another game called: Catherine. How I got the two mixed up, I still don’t know.
But I bought the game as it was on a sale, and didn’t have a single clue what I was going into. I just thought “What the hell, a Youtube gamer played it, it can’t be that bad then.” And clicked ‘play.’
I had never played a game that had a similar style to Life is Strange. Sure, I’d seen let’s plays of Telltale games a lot, but I had never actually played those games myself. As I played through the first episode, I wasn’t really sold on the whole approach at the beginning. I was just thinking: “So… A girl that can leap through time… Where have I heard that before?” But then I saw the other characters in the game, like Warren, (GO APEAPEAPEAPEAPEAPEAPEAPEAPE) and Chloe. Oh boy did Chloe interest me. Not just because Chloe is like a video game crush I have, but also the fact that her character design was simply a marvel to look at. The whole ‘blue-hair cigarette rebel punk’ look really sold me. And she actually turned out to be a nice person once I got to know her, prior to what her physical appearance told me of her just being a delinquent teenager.
But after I played the first episode, I thought: “What? That’s it?” In which I proceeded in downloading the next episode. But I don’t think the craving for the story was all that strong at this point. To me, it was more of a “Eeh. I bought this and it ain’t that bad. Might as well see this through.”-themed opinion.
And then shit hit the fan at episode two. I was instantly hooked on, making decisions, rewinding time every second, trying to find out what the hell was going on in the beautiful town of Arcadia Bay. Even now, I’m still amazed at how beautiful Arcadia Bay looked, and it convinced me that Oregon is a magical place. (Similar to how tourists are convinced England is full of Harry Potter, and New Zealand is filled with Hobbits.)
So many times I wondered about what would happen if I chose X instead of Y, and I loved comparing my choices with other players in the stats screen.
And when the final episode happened and the game left me with the ultimate decision… I was shaken. Looking back on this, I’m actually genuinely surprised. You see, I was one of those people who didn’t think Video Games could really motivate people on an emotional scale. Sure, I believed they could, but I realize now that at that time, I wanted to believe they could, rather than truly believing they had the capacity to do so. I had heard stories of people crying over Aerith’s death in FF7, and thought they were insane. When I looked back at all the games I played, not one of them truly provided me with an emotional wave. I think if I ever played The Last Of Us, my opinion would’ve been different, but I do not own a console. The closest I think I could come to it was Mother 3, and that is still pretty far from what I felt during Life is Strange. When that ending came, I actually found myself fighting back tears as I was left to my decision.
And to those of you who know what I’m talking about, I chose Bae over Bay. It wasn’t until I heard from a fantastic interview with the voice actress of Max, Hannah Telle, that I realized my decision wasn’t exactly a wise one. But that was the whole beauty of it. No ending is a ‘happy’ ending in Life is Strange. It leaves you with Melancholy, and I loved that.
I was also surprised to see other people react to the ending as well. After I finished the game, (And finished consoling my emotions while curled up in a ball in the corner of my room,) I looked through Youtube to find someone who chose to save Arcadia Bay. It was the last episode of her Life is Strange Let’s Play, and I groaned in sympathetic pain as I heard her stop commentating. Then I heard her soft sobs through the mic.
Ultimately when comparing the decisions, by choosing Chloe I had saved her. I did this because I felt that the whole thing would’ve been pointless if I didn’t choose her. I took risks, made hard decisions to save her, and to make her happy, and I wasn’t going to give up there. But when I realized later that I had basically sacrificed almost everyone for the sake of one person, I was confused as to what I have done. Even by saving everyone else, you come back to the idea of inevitability, as your efforts to save her has been meaningless.
And I’d just like to end my opinion of this game saying that… It was an amazing roller coaster of emotion. It’s truly a game that makes you feel alive. I felt that I wanted to love life more after this.