Don’t be suckered in by the beautiful visuals, the glowing reviews, the promise of a patient and meaningful story. Life is Strange is an ok game at first, but it’s a slow burn towards a raging dumpster fire of cringe-worthy sloppy writing. For those who have played the game and disagree – please hear me out. At first I didn’t want to admit I’d been conned either, but upon reflection I couldn’t get past the creeping feeling that something was terribly wrong. There is help for you, and coming to terms is the first step.
I enjoy point and click adventure games, so a friend recommended Life Is Strange to me. Oh look, Life Is Strange has so many awards! It’s probably pretty great right?
Preparing the case. Everything wrong with Life is Strange ordered by least to most egregious offenses
(1) “Hello fellow kids! The dialogue of Life is Strange is totes def how teen girls talk, wowser, LOL!”
Released in 5 episodes, Life is Strange is about Max Caulfield, a high school senior at a prestigious prep school in the American Pacific Northwest. She enjoys photography, messing with everyone’s shit, and destroying the fabric of space-time. Oh yeah, she’s able to reverse time by several minutes at will as well as jump to specific points in the past through her photographs. This is the main mechanic of the game, and one of the only things that I consistently enjoyed. But more on that later.
From the first episode I was impressed with the art direction. This game is pretty, I’ll give it that. It frequently gave you breathing moments, opportunities to simply enjoy the scene and the art. But then characters would open their mouths and the peace was shattered.
At first my problems with the dialogue were just an itch, then a tick, but by the end of 5 episodes it was a full blown rash.
Words that will never be ‘a thing’ used extensively by Life Is Strange.
- Go Ape
- Get My _____ On
However, a bit of dialogue from the first episode sums up this games’ attitude towards its players perfectly.
Max approaches Justin, prototypical ‘Skater Punk’. She has recently used her rewind powers to learn ‘Skater Punk’ lingo. Now she can earn his trust through application of appropriate phrases at preordained times.
Max: Yo, Justin.
Justin: Check out the Max. Come to thrash?
Max: I came to <insert>noseslide</insert>, but I’d love to see somebody do a <insert>“tre flip”</insert>!
Justin: Oh, sick, you’re not a poser.
Yes indeed Justin, Max is not a ‘poser’. She is a fellow human teenager, just like you!
For those who haven’t played *SPOILERS* ahead. You can scroll to the end though, there’s no pictures that will spoil this piece of garbage game. JUST DON’T READ WORDS NOT IN BOLD 🙂
(2) The choices never matter, but they’re thrust upon you with ham-fisted moral subtext.
Max you done it again, you went and fucked up time.
Fast-forward to episode 4. Max has used her powers to jump into an old photograph and prevent her best friend Chloe’s father from dying when Chloe was 13. In this alternate timeline Chloe’s father lives but Chloe is a quadriplegic after a terrible accident, because God is dead and karma is a cruel joke
Along with the loss of Chloe’s mobility, the writers also made sure to strip all remnants of Chloe’s personality. Her room now contains nothing but stuffed animals and a T.V. All Chloe talks about is that one time Max and Chloe played pirates when they were 8. THOSE WERE THE DAYS, SIGH. Then she begs you to kill her with a morphine overdose and the game lets you FUCKING DO IT. Even worse, they encourage you to do it. Because life is simply over if you’re disabled. You lose all former personality and just become a burden to everyone else.
Also, spoiler alert, there are no consequences if you do kill her. Afterward you immediately jump back to 13-year-old Max to reverse your decision, thus letting Chloe’s father DIE. After all this you’re reunited with normal dead-dad Chloe in your familiar timeline.
What does all this accomplish? Does this show the futility of playing God? Does it further your relationship with Chloe? No, it’s lazy, pathos-porn. It’s a cheap trick, and it only gets worse from here folks.
(3) The game does not have the discipline or the guts to make the characters and their relationships believable or significant.
This is the game’s greatest offense, and it’s only made worse by the fact that it’s not 100% apparent until the very end. The first 3 episodes have so much promise, only to be wasted in the final episodes.
Max, quite literally, travels across the universe to save Chloe from death time and time again and the end of the game is where it all comes to a head. The final choice of the game is to either let the town of Arcadia Bay be destroyed by a F6 Tornado so Chloe can live, or to save the town and let Chloe die.
To accompany this decision you must endure a tedious nightmare scene where all the people of Arcadia Bay shame you for even considering letting them die. You’re funneled through a haunted house of guilt and sin and you should feel VERY BAD.
So what did I choose? I let Arcadia Bay be swallowed up by the Finger of God. I didn’t even hesitate. Good riddance.
There is extremely heavy subtext throughout the entire game that Chloe and Max might be lovers. Sleeping in your best friends bed, swimming with your best friend in your panties, and kissing your best friend on a dare, totally hetero right? However, this game never has the guts to acknowledge their romantic relationship and this is why the final choice, and subsequently all choices before it, are so pointless.
If presented with a choice between saving my significant other or saving a town of people I sort of know (Max isn’t even from Arcadia Bay) I’d burn the town every time. I think most other people would to. Or at least it would be an extremely difficult choice, I hope.
But to destroy a town to save a friend of mine, who I haven’t seen in 7 years? I’d probably think about that one long enough for my friend to get uncomfortable…
What is Chloe to you? The fact that you even have to ask this question at the end is completely idiotic.
And don’t tell me that Chloe and Max as lovers is basically cannon, because that’s giving the cowardly writers a free pass. You’re given the choice to romantically kiss or hug Warren near the end of the game, the boy you’ve been needlessly leading on. But with Chloe you get a quick kiss on a dare, which Chloe immediately brushes off. Cause having a lesbian couple in a modern game is ‘2edgy4me brah, totes’.
TLDR; Life is strange is an aesthetically pleasing game written by robots, but ultimately it fails the Turing Test. ‘Get your rage on’ and throw it in a dumpster fire.
I read the first half, which is the only part I can read since you hid the rest behind spoilers. You will be buying me the game so I can finish reading the post, right, Pugs? I checked on steam and it’s only $80 dollars. No big deal for an owner of a lucrative bidness like Stonepug.
Hella expensive, but I’m totes def gonna get it so I can get my game on.
From the tiny amount I was allowed to read, I was reminded of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, which was a passable movie that I’m going to call great here since I don’t want to get into a fight with some random fellow nerd about it; tis the season to be peaceful. I was especially struck by how you’d mentioned she would use super time powers to learn some lingo and Makoto Konno, in turn, would use her time powers for similarly frivolous reasons, like hanging out with her friends even more than she usually does (it’s as epic as it sounds).
But from that little bit of information I have of Mad Max, Makoto sounds infinitely more likable. Using your time powers for more ice cream makes perfect sense to me. Using them to learn some psychobabble so you can trick a boy into thinking you’re not a poser seems really, really pathetic.
Girls, if you’re reading this, just be yourselves. I’m not going lie, most boys will not like you as much if you act like yourself, but the right boy will like you for it, and that’s the one that matters.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go gurgle some cheap whiskey to get this sickeningly saccharine shit out of my mouth.