First off, I should probably say that I cannot be totally impartial when reviewing anything related to Life is Strange. That game had a profound impact on me, and, from a storytelling perspective, is one of my all time favorite pieces of media, let alone just video games. Accordingly, I had extremely high expectations for “Awake,” the first episode of the just-released prequel Life is Strange: Before the Storm.
Fortunately, this was not meant to be directed at the fans, as the overwhelmingly positive Steam reviews will attest. (Screenshot from Life is Strange: Before the Storm.)
Set well after the death of Chloe’s father William, but years before the events of the original game, Deck Nine’s Before the Storm follows a similar narrative and gameplay style to the original. Playing as Chloe Price rather than a still absent Maxine Caulfield, you enter into the beginning of her relationship with Rachel Amber and the subtly supernatural lead up to the eponymous storm at the ultimate conclusion(s) of Chloe’s story. The gameplay mechanics replace Max’s time-rewinding skills with Chloe’s ability to shit-talk her way out of anything (or at least fail to do so in an intense and often amusing way), but retain the core mechanics of decision-based interactive cutscenes interspersed with walking simulator-type gameplay.
I expected that this game, while technically a prologue, would serve as a form of “emotional epilogue” to Season 1 of the main game from Dontnod, since Season 2 will focus on entirely new stories and characters. In that regard, and many others, Before the Storm has largely succeeded in giving me what I most wanted from it: more Life is Strange, and particularly more Chloe Price.
I’ve been hearing whispers about a new Life is Strange project for a while, though I couldn’t figure out how the developers would do it. A sequel was out of the question since the ending of the game is set up deliberately to take the story in two completely different directions, so making a direct Life is Strange 2 would surely be impossible unless they wanted to make two completely different games. Lo and behold, it turns out the new Life is Strange game is a prequel, focusing not on Max and her time powers but on Chloe a few years before the events of the original story. This is, all things considered, the sensible choice, though I’m intrigued and cautiously optimistic about how it will turn out.
Let’s face it, 2016 was tough, and 2017 doesn’t look to be much easier. So let’s delve into some of our favorite geeky romantic pairings to help us cope! Yep, it’s Valentine’s Day, that sickeningly sweet holiday when our authors nominate and then vote on ships for our Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon) list. It is now my duty to present to you the super cute and sexy ships of 2017!
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!
My refusal to watch Doctor Who finally bites me in the ass.
While my mind is still on the topic of films that make me cry, I recall a point a couple years ago when I sat and watched The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki o Kakeru Shoujo). The 2006 Mamoru Hosada film follows the life of protagonist Makoto as she gains and learns to utilize time travel powers, and what effect it has on her and her friends’ lives. With my current piqued interest in Life Is Strange, I’m noticing a trend in popular media (or at least the media I’m consuming) concerning the presence of time magic and, in this case, the young women who receive and use it. From Makoto and Max (from Life Is Strange) to Harry Potter’s Hermione, time travel is not only an important means for people to experience things as selfishly as they want, but also allow them to grow into their own sense of responsibility.
Spoilers for The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Life Is Strange beneath the cut.
Full disclaimer: I haven’t played Life Is Strange.
The episodic title from Dontnod Entertainment has almost been out for seven months and four chapters of its story have been released to the public; still, I haven’t actually taken the time to sit down and play through it (mostly because I don’t really like the idea, or execution, of episodic games). Instead, I’ve taken to the internet to watch Let’s Players go through the various chapters… which is actually to say I’ve watched someone play through the most recent chapter, “Dark Room”. So, upon emerging from what could possibly be the most fucked up chapter in the whole series—a lot more fucked up than a lot of things I’ve seen in many, many other games—I decided that instead of watching the rest of the game to catch up, I’d turn to fanfic to soothe my broken heart. My logic is sound, trust me.
I have a lot of potential love for the series’s main ship—protagonist Max Caulfield and rebel with a cause Chloe Price—but even with series I don’t know, apparently, I like to see relationships from a different angle. And, well, if you give me an enemies/annoyances to friends (to lovers) dynamic—which is the only thing school bully and HBIC Victoria Chase could be—you’ve pretty much got my heart. This is exactly what drew me to Saving Victoria Chase (again and again and agai).
A new year means a whole new bunch of games to either look forward to or slowly shake my head over. Given last year’s slow move toward progress in terms of representation and AAA companies maybe starting to listen to their fans just a tiny bit more, I’m excited to see what lessons have been learned from the fiascoes of the past and what this means for the future of games. Already, I have a modicum of hope thanks to this game.