This week I started watching the popular (and possibly controversial, if Facebook posts such as “Don’t let your kids watch… are to be believed) Netflix drama ’13 Reasons Why’, and I can’t help but think back to my time spent playing Life is Strange with every moment. I think a lot of it has to be the way that the characters interact with each other. The playful dialog, specifically between Hannah and Clay, reminds me a lot of the way that Max and Chloe talked to each other in Life is Strange.
The style and the way that music is used in ’13 Reasons Why’ has also been reminding me of the wonderful soundtrack from Life is Strange. I’m only on the third episode of the show, but after I’ve finished each episode I’ve found myself logging onto Twitch to see if anyone is streaming Life is Strange (luckily, so far there have been plenty of streams). I think by the time I finish the show I’ll end up playing through the game once more to relive the wonderful journey.
I’ve enjoyed the show a ton so far, and I’m excited to continue watching (though I tend not to binge watch so it’ll probably take me a few weeks). I don’t really have much else to say, but was kind of curious if the show has reminded anyone else of Life is Strange, or if I’m just crazy.
Last night I finished up Life is Strange and am incredibly sad that I won’t be able to look forward to exploring Arcadia Bay anymore. I can easily say that Life is Strange is one of the best story driven games that I’ve ever played. There were so many memorable moments and characters, and the game affected me emotionally more than any game ever has. I feel like my life has been improved by the experience, and it never felt like mindless entertainment. I’d like to comment more specifically on the game, so I’ll be getting into some spoilers from here on out. If you haven’t played Life is Strange, I highly recommend you stop reading now, because even if you don’t think you’ll ever play it, the experience will be much better if you go into it unaware of what is about to unfold.
Spoilers follow below
Life is Strange took a pretty dramatic turn starting in the third episode and it kept getting stranger and stranger (and also darker) from there on out. One of the things I enjoyed most about the earlier episodes was that so much of the game revolved around everyday life. There were images of the storm to come, but it was mostly a human story early on. Once things first started to get dark (leading to the discovery of the dark room) the game shifted in a way that I’m not quite sure I liked. It was exhilarating to try and figure out what exactly was going on, but as the game got closer to its conclusion I feel like it got just a little too crazy. Part of me wished it would have been just a little more predictable, or a little more grounded, but at the same time at the end of it all it felt like everything fit into place.
One thing I really liked is that in the end you’re faced with two horrible choices. There will be no happy ending no matter what Max chooses, and I like the gravity that this adds to the final choice in the game. There’s no obvious choice, as both will inflict a great deal of sadness on Max and many others. Ultimately I chose to keep Chloe alive as I feel like this was the right choice for Max. It’s no secret that she’s quite selfish in the way that she uses her power, and considering how much of the game centers around trying to help and save Chloe, it seemed like despite the horrible implications for Arcadia Bay, that’s the choice Max would actually make.
I really liked the way the end unfolded after deciding to sacrifice Arcadia Bay, in that Max and Chloe drive off “into the sunset” in a sense, and leave Arcadia Bay behind without looking back. At the same time I feel like it’s a little unbelievable that they seem to show little emotion for what just happened, and it’s not clear that they even bother to check up on any friends or family on the way out of town. Maybe because Max had already seen the scene of destruction play out so many times she was a little numb to it all, and it’s true that she’s already been through such an emotional rollercoaster, I just sort of wished for something more.
One last minor complaint I have is that the optional photo achievement system is still in place during the final two episodes. There was such a gravity and urgency to the situation that I didn’t feel that Max would be interested in taking pictures at all toward the end. I ended up missing most of the final achievements as I wanted to play the game with a sense of urgency, which is somewhat annoying but it only felt right.
I first played Life is Strange not long after the first episode released, and although I remember thinking it was a beautiful game, I never quite got hooked, and let it reside dormant on my Xbox One’s hard drive for quite some time. I didn’t give it another try until this past Fourth of July weekend, and I can’t believe I waited so long to give it another shot. I picked up where I left off, early on in the first episode, and this time I couldn’t put it down.
By the time I hit the ending sequence of the first episode I experienced goosebumps for the first time in years while playing a video game. The music, the art, the characters, the incredible world all made for such an incredible experience that I felt like I was on a drug. It was unreal, and I struggle to put down in print exactly how it made me feel.
As I continued through the second and third episode over the weekend I experienced these feelings again and again as some incredibly moving events unfolded. What’s incredible though, is that Life is Strange has been just as marvelous during the mundane moments of life as it has been during the more eventful moments.
For the first time in years (probably since my first time through Final Fantasy X) I’ve been genuinely shocked by some of the things that happen in Life is Strange, and at the same time I’ve felt these incredible “punched in the gut” like feelings while reading notes or even graffiti plastered on bathroom walls. I’ve been moved nearly to tears by moments of tragedy and moments of joy again and again and I find myself not wanting to walk away from the game.
My journey with Life is Strange has caused extreme emotions of both pure joy and utter sadness, but most of all as I progress through the fourth episode I’ve found myself dreading reaching the end of the experience. I’m started to get anxious, afraid, sad and almost angry that I’m going to have to walk away from this game very soon. It’s almost like the feeling as you approach an end to your time at a school. I feel so connected with the characters of Life is Strange that I’m moved almost to tears thinking about leaving them behind. I know this sounds silly, but I’ve never experienced anything quite like this with a video game. I just don’t want to ever walk away from Arcadia Bay. I’m not sure what I’m going to do once the wonderful journey is over, and yet at the same time I can’t wait to see how story concludes. I want to go back to Arcadia Bay and live the life of Max Caulfield, but please, please don’t make me leave!