Resolution: Life is Strange: Episode 2

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So sorry about that everyone. That post was from my Bizarro version. Thankfully he went back home to Htrea when I explain that the most popular reviews are the ones you keep to yourselves. Here is my actual post for Life is Strange, episode 2.

So in episode 1 I was far too hung up on the game systems to really appreciate how well they work with the narrative in the game. To clarify I’m talking about narrative in the sense of like a film director, not a game writer. In that the mechanics really do mesh well with the world and personality of the game.

When it comes to plot, Max is both literally rewinding time but also metaphorically. She has returned to her childhood home, is reunited with an old friend, and visiting landmarks from her past. I’m getting an impression that this game is doing a dance with the old adage “you can’t go home again.” But to what end, I’m not sure. The game could run contrary to the idea, or reinforce it by saying “you can’t go home again…and if you try it’ll be destroyed by a magic tornado.”

The time travel concepts hit me hardest in the fetch quest in the junkyard. The level was filled with various objects to observe, prompting Max to the contemplate its past and how it got to be there. It got a little heavy handed once or twice but over all I enjoyed the reinforcement of the idea that everything has an nonmalleable history. I’ve always liked thinking in this way, as a more digestible version of the shinto/native american belief that everything has a soul. Everything has a past and had a value in within it, and it is good to be aware of this kind of idea.

There is another thing that I want to talk about, and I want to try to do so as spoiler free as possible. After Episode 1, my friend Grant challenged me with the idea that rewinding time in the game does not nullify the actions from happening. As in if a bottle breaks, then the player rewinds, while the bottle is no longer broken, to both Max and the player the bottle still had been broken. With this idea the challenge was to not only prevent a character from being dead (which is usually a game requirement anyways) but to also prevent them from ever having been dead in my play through. There are two sequences that this would apply to. With the first it was easy to pull off. I simply rewound time every time I did anything, greatly increasing my overall time to solve the puzzle.

The second instance not so much. I was successful in preventing the characters death in the open gameplay piece entirely, but not in the scripted sequence. By which point I was immersed in the wellbeing of that character so throughly that having failed over all prevents me from patting myself on the back for having the reflexives to rewind before the character was hurt.

I’m not going to go into the detail of this sequence beyond two points. The first is that it was so compelling that I began writing this immediately after finishing the credits for the episode. The second is that it was so compelling that I assumed it had to be beyond the control of player input. That that outcome was predetermined, to serve as a learning moment for the player about the extent of their powers as Max started the episode fairly cocky, and Chloe even more so. Surprisingly the post credits stats contradicted this by pointing out that I got an outcome and did not get a different, actually earn-able outcome.

Honestly, I didn’t care for this discovery. It turned what had been a really powerful moment in the story and an intriguing lesson about inevitability or something into something too gamey. I now felt like I had simply lost a Mario life, and should just try again because dying doesn’t matter because its just a game. I’m going to try and resist the urge to try again until the whole game is released though. This was just a small disappointment in what continues to be a really great game. Potentially one of my all time favorites.

-Eric John E

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