I’ve been writing about Life is Strange before I launched this site and it was one of the first games I actually covered on here. To see it finally conclude, to witness the end of such an emotionally draining journey, has actually rendered me quite speechless. I’ve put together so many drafts of this article that I’m questioning my ability to convey these ideas to those who are interested. Life is Strange as a whole had just about everything I specifically could desire a game, more or less.
- Character-progression/character oriented
- Triumph of the underdog
- Conversation and decision systems
Life is Strange was a beautiful and debatably irritating story and game, and it has been a privilege to play it. I could write an entire novel for you readers about my experience with Life is Strange’s fifth installment, released earlier this week on Tuesday Oct. 20th), but I have a strong feeling that those who’re checking out these articles aren’t scoping for someone’s input to weigh out pros and cons before purchasing this game. You want to learn of someone else’s experience to wrap yourself in that mourning. You’re out there trying to catch anything Life is Strange available because you’re longing for more of it to still somehow exist in the universe. Reader, you’re looking through your yearbook and Facebook pictures, glum and grieving the end of the school year and the departure of long-time friends possibly forever.
I’m rambling. Thing is, I get it. I do. When I finished Polarized my immediate response was to hop onto the Life is Strange subreddit and just absorb every bit of the sadness and joy dripping off of every anonymous user’s words. Something significant in my life has ended possibly once and for all and this may be the last bit of it I will ever have. I went through the same grieving process when Mad Men ended earlier this Spring (still not quite over it).
You’re coming here for my thoughts and I will do my best to deliver whatever I can for you, reader and fellow Life is Strange fanatic. For those looking to spread their love to Dontnod Entertainment (or relish in the love from the community), I highly recommend checking out the ThankYouForLIS Tumblr page where players have posted thank you letters and fan art for Dontnod. Ah, my heart can’t handle it.
Here Are My Thoughts
Where we left off on Episode Four: The Dark Room, which I talk about in my previous article, was just a whirlwind of emotions that I can’t even describe completely. Just picture my jaw hanging down to the floor and my inability to muster any proper words, just gibberish, and the picture is painted well. “Huh?” “Wha?!” “But–” “That–” “NO!” “WHO PUT THIS BOWL OF ONIONS HERE?”
Wait — You know what? Let’s not do this. Not like this. No more review.
In fact, I can’t even sum of Dark Room and Polarized anymore, guys. It completely tears me down every time I try. So, I decided to not make this article about recapping and dissecting every thing about the game. In fact, I’m just going to give you my final thoughts. This is my testimony about Life is Strange: Polarized and Life is Strange generally.
The only thing that I’m going to pick apart before leading into my thoughts is the lack of explanation for Max’s powers. The ending of Polarized really lacked explanation altogether about how Maxine got these time-bending powers, why her, and why is Chloe’s death is the point it begins. Maybe this will be resolved in the future?
Life is Strange is the Game I Needed
There, I said it, and I mean it. I have ripped apart Chloe’s character to shreds for being so emotionally demanding and irresponsible but after finishing episode five, it finally made sense why she was written that way. I’m not a teenager anymore and I’ve definitely lost touch with what it’s like to be struggling in that part of your life. What I mean is, it’s a difficult period filled with expectations and learning what role you want to take in your personal story. Your 20’s are such a sophisticated take on that world with billions more issues incorporated yet I neglect the important, transitional period of the late teens, just before embarking on whatever the world is willing to chuck at you when you’re 18 or 19. I’ve lost my touch and I’ve become out of touch. Life is Strange, on the other hand, not only helped me through personal issues during this time and granted a new perspective, but it reminded me what life was life at 18 and no one was perfect.
Correction: no one is perfect just in general.
Chloe’s troubled because of the events that happened in the main timeline and how growing up without a father has affected her. She feels abandoned and alone, and only Max is able to fill that hole in her heart and make her feel whole again. I originally thought she was so needy, so unreasonably needy and demanding, but as time progressed through the week-long adventures with Max and learning so much about one another, their love for one another (friendship and for some people, romantic) blossomed into something gorgeous, genuine, and though imperfect, it was the perfect kind of imperfect. They made sense in the end.
Chloe’s timeline was doomed to be mixed and distorted from the get-go, a series of tragic and unfair events happening regardless of what Max did. In fact, it was so chaotic that Max created a rift in time and absolutely fucked up the environment so bad. That tornado was Max’s fault the whole time and it was a product of love. When I began playing in January earlier this year, there’s no way I would have ever predicted Life is Strange would have matured into anything near this. God no.
So, I take back everything awful I’ve mentioned in my reviews about Chloe. She is a character I love to hate and hate to love, but I do love her. In the week since Life is Strange’s Polarized release, I find myself hanging onto a sense of melancholy and an achey-ness in my chest like I’m missing something important. Then it occurred to me, Chloe was finally real to me. Chloe didn’t make Chloe real for me, Max did. And Max made Chloe real for everyone else in their world. Arcadia Bay, the universe, everything – none of it cared about what happened to Chloe or who she was more or less. There were misunderstandings, people were too busy, it’s easier to just blow her off and not actually observe the underlying layers. But Max was witness to every single part of her heart and personality and unconditionally loved this individual and felt an obligation towards her.
Max’s spirit and heart transformed Chloe into a tangible character and when Chloe offered to sacrifice herself at the end of Life is Strange, it was the final move to transform her. She became real to me and I chose to sacrifice her life over that of the rest of Arcadia Bay (I mean, hundreds of people’s lives were on the line, guys. Come on.).
And by her becoming real and Life is Strange reminding me of what life was like back in high school as a teenager I remembered that we simply don’t have a clue what we’re doing, ever. But there’s a spirit during that time of our lives that bleeds out that’s so full of life, ambition, hope, and fire that’s so desperate to make itself known and right all that’s wrong with the world. And all this time I’ve been forgetting that there are people out there fighting for something so precious in their lives just like Max was. It made me wonder what would I put on the line in my own life and if anything could be changed, would I bother?
Life is Strange isn’t about Max and Chloe. It’s about the player, through Max, taking on a challenge they didn’t ask for but will gladly risk everything to fight, righting a magnificent wrong, and learning to love in a whole new way. The player lives through Max and becomes the change in the world they want to see. Life is Strange gave to me such a great sense of power and perspective in my own life, and reading article after article, comment after comment, Reddit post after post, I am not alone in that.
Life is Strange is imperfect, the story had its flaws at some points, and there were plenty of funny moments/cringey dialogue. But that’s the thing, Life is Strange and everything about Life is Strange is actually strange and peculiar. It is exactly as it intended to be and affected so many player’s lives.
So, in that way, Life is Strange was the game I didn’t even know I needed and I am so glad I gave it a chance. Thank you, Dontnod Entertainment, for changing my life. I’m not even sorry for writing something so sappy and personal.
-Sniffle- More Information
You can check out the Life is Strange Twitter, Facebook, official website, and Steam for more information. Life is Strange is available on Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux and on both PS3 and PS4 and Xbox 360 and XBOX One.
Favorite game(s): Gone Home, Life is Strange, Back to Bed, Transistor
Non-indie: Mafia II, L.A. Noire, Dark Cloud II (Dark Chronicle), The Assassin's Creed Series (mainly Brotherhood and Black Flag)
Worked for Cliqist.com from Jan 2013 to Februrary 2014.
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