Spoilers for Life Is Strange below this line.
I’ve spoken about Life Is Strange a few times on this blog before: the episodic game by Dontnod Entertainment came out January of last year. Focused on the time-travel gifted teen Max Caulfield, the game places both Max and the player in the middle of a mystery surrounding her hometown of Arcadia Bay. As interesting as the story was, and as relatable as the characters were, Life Is Strange had one major problem: killing off the main wlw ship. Okay, so technically Max didn’t have to sacrifice her best friend/girlfriend Chloe Price—the option to “save Arcadia Bay” forcing Max to accept Chloe’s inevitable death as she gets murdered—but upon choosing to stay with Chloe instead, the girls sacrifice everyone in Arcadia Bay for their love. I don’t think I’ve met anyone that didn’t agree this was a super shitty way to end Life Is Strange’s story, and an especially shitty way to handle one of the few positive wlw relationships that I can think of in a recent non-indie game. But today, have I got a solution for you!
There is absolutely no way that audiences should be forced to accept that wlw relationships will always end in death, and if not death, tragedy of some sort. Picking up the ball that Dontnod dropped are the people at Team Rumblebee and their game Love Is Strange. Taking place in an AU where everything isn’t terrible and depressing, this dating sim focuses on Max finding a partner for a photography contest, and the blossoming relationship between her and her partner of choice. If you weren’t exactly a fan of the Chloe-Max relationship, have no fear! There are four different routes for players to choose from, each with distinct characters; so you still have the fiery Chloe alongside the mysterious Rachel, the snobby Victoria (which is a guilty ship of mine, I admit), and the gentle Kate.
Everything about this game is incredible—both the art is gorgeous and the writing is on point—but what really makes this important to me is that it’s unabashedly a game about girls loving girls that doesn’t have death looming over it like a shadow. Max and the others are allowed to explore their own attractions, and what defines them as a person without being hounded by the prevalent violence against young girls that was present in the games. It’s a safe space for the characters, and a safe space for the players.
Love Is Strange is available in both English and Russian for free through the game’s devblog. If you’re looking for that little piece of love that the original game seemed so adamant about giving you, or just looking for a cute, non-sexualized wlw dating sim, give it a shot! Also, make sure to keep an eye on Team Rumblebee’s blog for notifications of future projects.