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Thread: Life is Strange

  1. #51
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: I think I've been here
    Damn right I have passed verdict and am speeding down the highway to an omniscient interpretation of the world. Whoop whoop!
    So you cannot engage with what I said anymore, all that's left to you now is attacking my style.

  2. #52
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2001
    I think the ending decision has at least two purposes, even though the first choice is "relevant" (for lack of a better word) from my perspective. First of all, it creates a beautiful tension. Assuming you liked both Max and Chloe (not necessarily through your actions towards forming the relationship in-game, but just as a player in front of the screen), you get something almost as powerful as getting through the Bargaining stage of Grief, however the ridiculous other option may seem to you. Sure, it works only the first time around, but there's this little 'maybe' in your head, making you stare sadly at the screen for more than a few seconds. It's brilliant.

    Second of all, giving you the other option, as irrational as I may have seen it back then, I think it was devs' best design decision, and they knew exactly what they were doing. Let me explain.

    I chose the first option, and not because 'someone had it coming'. I loved the character, I saw the struggle to be good, the flaws and string of bad decisions, and that's more than just some simple binary traits. Noone should be treated like that anyway, and even though we're talking about a virtual character, that's what makes it very human. I chose this ending, because it felt like a natural outcome to all this, and, on the second thought – it felt like a conclusion of a real, mature story, something that makes you draw comparisons with literary classics (Max's surname reference aside).

    But, there is this other choice, which I found 'irrational' or 'immature' at the time. I read a few awfully long blog posts about it, both casual players and other indie devs. Some tried to find and defend its logic, mixing rational thinking with emotions, giving some interesting insights. Even if I don't necessarily agree, I loved the passion and efforts to justify their choices. I still think this outcome is not so great in terms of quality of the story. But, it's those other players' story too, and if they felt that this choice was valid at this very emotional peak, that's absolutely great.

    This phenomenon, people choosing Depression and Acceptance, or 'winning' the Bargaining stage is something I haven't seen before in games. The only comparison I can draw with is Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. Both games are dark, mature coming-of-age stories that try to recreate the process of losing innocence, hope, letting go. Both mix hero's journey with tragedy to deconstruct the idea of superpowers having any relevance in the world(s) of humans. Hell is other people, but it's fine.

  3. #53
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2008
    Location: in your second eyelids
    Life is strange...

  4. #54
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: I think I've been here
    Thanks for sharing your perspective.

    I don't agree with the analogy of the bargaining stage of grief, because that simply assumes that Chloe is dead (or doomed to die). "Winning" the bargaining can only be a delusion then. This argument predicts itself.

    But I can see why you felt it was a natural and classic ending. During the last half of the 5th episode the game tries hard to prepare you for this ending with the people in the diner, your own externalised self-doubt and not least Chloe's epiphany that it's all her fault for defying death.
    Depending on your choices this starts even earlier, eg at one point after the railway incident Chloe may mention how the universe is apparently out to kill her and how they beat it two times now.

    There's an obvious subtext here of man should not play God. Don't fumble with time or it will come back at ya badly. Is there any other explanation for that storm? Certainly none that's rooted in the physical world.
    Instead there is a strong religious connotation to it. It is quite literally the wrath of God (or the universe, if you're more into nature magic). And this supernatural being is taking sacrifices for your sin of screwing with time.
    The lesson to be learned here is always the same, no matter what you choose: Don't play God, don't challenge fate, don't screw with the universe.

    And that's what I have a bit of a problem with.

  5. #55
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    That I understand, but for me this ties in with my overall issues with the writing. Max' powers are weakly written, they're all over the place, they appear at random and do different things at different times. They make sense as a gameplay mechanism, more or less, but thematically they are odd at best and problematic at worst.

    However, that's entirely separate from whether it's better to let Chloe die or a whole bunch of other people. Saying that it's absolutely okay for many, many people in Arcadia Bay to suffer because, hey, Chloe is your BFF - and incidentally, fuck god and fuck fate? Okay, but your rant from the previous page doesn't do anything to argue the wrongness of the other choice (and of the people who make that choice, which was a supremely silly thing to argue).

    The choice, whether you agree with one ending being the 'right' one or not, is a stupid one, because it is entirely arbitrary. It is pretty much a non-choice.
    spoiler:
    Now, if Max could've sacrificed herself, that I would've chosen in a heartbeat, though perhaps mostly because I never got to like Max. Having Chloe die - but not the Chloe who accepts that she may not be able to avoid her death, and who chooses it over the death of friends, loved ones and even people she doesn't care about, she doesn't die. She vanishes, and instead the Chloe who dies is one who never got to meet Max again, who never got over her teenage rebellion and see herself as part of a bigger thing. That's not poignant or tragic, that's just cruel. It could be made to work in a game with better writing, and with a stronger protagonist, but in this game, with its underdeveloped time-bending powers and with milquetoast Max at the helm? Nope. Forced, phony tragedy - which still works remarkably well, because Chloe ends up working remarkably well, but it is deeply flawed IMO.

  6. #56
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: I think I've been here
    God is willing to accept either of these sacrifices:

    A) One gay, pot smoking, foul mouthed, school dropping, parents defying, sex having punk girl with blue hair
    B) A whole town full of other people, including a psycho killer

    And you are put in the position to decide, because you dabbled in God's domain.
    You is: A shy girl who doesn't do drugs, is a good student, doesn't swear, loves her parents and is surely not having any filthy sex.

    Would an audience with a typical Western Judeo-Christian background sacrifice the town and drive off through the destroyed city, where corpses lie in the street and fucking whales are on the roofs, just so they can be with the person they love the most?
    Would they come to question what kind of God holds them ransom and forces them to make such a decision? (Protip: This is one of God's oldest shticks!)
    Or will they sacrifice the girl, get rewarded with a long bitter-sweet ending including a magical butterfly, and feel that this was a classic and natural conclusion?

    It's not that I think people who sacrifice Chloe were heartless. They have been brought up with these ideas of retribution, sin and sacrifice. (So much they might want to sacrifice themselves instead, which is another classic.) But I still dislike the self confirming bias at work here. The blind acceptance of a mythical story-device that has no problem with a guy killing teenage girls in his basement, but is enraged enough to wipe out a whole town when you dare saving some punkrock girl, because for some unknown reason he had decided she needs to die before. At the very least this should get people thinking. But discussions in this regard are usually limited to which choice was the better one.
    I chose to save Chloe not least out of spite. I wouldn't want to see lots of people die, but this setup was so obvious and despicable that I mostly felt a big "Fuck that."
    Last edited by Kolya; 19th Feb 2016 at 17:21.

  7. #57
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    To be frank, Kolya, to me it sounds like you're bringing a lot of your own baggage to the game. That's fine, everyone does that, but while I partly agree with your criticism of the game, some of it very much comes across as you projecting a particular chip on your shoulder onto the game. Life is Strange is very much in love with Chloe and with the Chloe-Max friendship, I'd say; it never presents that particular choice as anything other than unfair. There is acceptance that this may have to happen, but you're not supposed to feel good about it. I don't think that the consequences of Max' actions are framed in terms of an angry God asking for sacrifice, they're framed very much in terms of the Butterfly Effect - which I have other issues with (the game doesn't even begin to address how it's essential that one thing happens, but not a myriad of other things, because Max still changes shit), but if the story was supposed to introduce a divine element, it did so very vaguely and very badly IMO. It's much more high school fatalism than high school deism, as far as I'm concerned.

  8. #58
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2001
    Well, I don't have problem with Chloe being doomed to die in any manner, this is classic Greek tragedy. No matter what you do, every choice along your way brings you closer to your (often cruel) demise. Doesn't really matter how you call it: God, gods, fate/Fates, the Balance, etc. The framework is still the same.

  9. #59
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: I think I've been here
    Exactly, it doesn't matter what you call it. And I'm not trying to argue that this was about Christian theology or deism. What I'm saying is that it's a shitty choice and when being presented with such a choice I tend to get angry at whoever puts me in that place.

    There's a scene in Batman Dark Knight Returns where the joker conducts a social experiment holding two ships at ransom and gives each a detonator for the other ship. One is regular commuters the other is a prison ship full of murderers and other convicts.

    It is the same kind of choice as in LIS. It's arbitrary and cruel and there's the moral angel with prisoners one one side and "normal" people on the other. In Batman however it is made clear that one should not bow to anyone who presents you with such a choice. And that person is actually given a face, so you can direct your anger at the joker, instead of getting lost in the question who deserves more to live. In LIS there's no one, it's just "fate". And with that comes the acceptance that this may have to happen. Of course you're not supposed to feel good about it, but *sob, sob* it can't be helped. You become that guy on the commuter ship who feels bad about it, but in the end votes to explode the prisoners.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thirith View Post
    it never presents that particular choice as anything other than unfair.
    That I disagree with. The choice is presented as hard and inevitable. But the choice itself is never questioned, because it remains unclear who is posing it and why. The only way to do so, is to get out of the game and start thinking about it the game writers and developers who wrote the game that way.

    It's just a shitty ending to an otherwise great game. Perhaps because it becomes focussed on this one question, the mechanics of how you're being emotionally manipulated, become too obvious.

  10. #60
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I don't mind the motif, Kolya; in that respect I'd agree with Judith's notion of Greek tragedy. However, I'd agree with you on the writing quality, which is my overall problem with Life Is Strange: as far as I'm concerned, the writing is all over the place. Sometimes it's pretty strong, but much of the time it's clumsy, making up for this with earnestness (and in some cases strong performances). When it comes to overall plotting and themes, though, it's not very good IMO, being both hamfisted and way too vague for its own good. And that's why I prefer the Telltale games I've played to this: Life Is Strange does better in some respects, but to my mind Telltale has more consistent writing throughout. (Mind you, I've only played TWD, both seasons, and TWAU.)

    What is desperately needed, though, is a game along these lines that has good facial animations. Neither Telltale nor Dontnod do well in that respect, and with TWD it's really started to bug me that while the voice acting is strong, the facial expressions are starting to register as pretty terrible, overacted and cartoonish. They need to look at something like The Last of Us and learn a lesson or two about animation and motion capturing - or alternatively embrace stylisation - but in both games the acting is undercut by the animations, more so with Telltale.

  11. #61
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: I think I've been here
    Thanks for this discussion Thirith and Judith. I understand your point about it feeling like a Greek tragedy. And the fatalism that comes with it, is certainly typical of the teenage angst depicted in LIS. So it has its place there.
    You've also helped me develop and express my problem with the ending much better than I originally did. Thanks for putting up with me, I know tend to put these things into absolute terms and get carried away with my own viewpoint (which isn't always appropriate) when discussing on the internet, due to its asynchronous nature. I also discussed the game with a friend IRL last night, who shared your view for the most part, and it's easier to come to an agreement with that kind of instant feedback. I have nothing more to add right now, but just wanted you to know that I appreciate it. Have a nice day.

  12. #62
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Wowser!

    I missed this game when it first came out and just finished it. I don't think a video game has ever made me cry before, but here we are... It's not a perfect game but it's an incredible accomplishment, despite the ending, and really most of the fifth episode (that nightmarish nightmare sequence!). And I agree wholeheartedly with Kolya's points above. I think any ending you choose is a quote-unquote bad ending. Here's a great alternate fan-made ending:



    It's not perfect but it makes the most sense to me (and actually made me cry as well, fuck). You go back to the beginning, save Chloe in the bathroom, and that's it. Sacrificing Chloe to me was not an option, but sacrificing the town is not an option either, even though that's what I chose in my playthrough. Partly, because I was shipping Max and Chloe but also because the choices I had made throughout the game are not wiped out. I'm really looking forward to the prequel and I'm really curious how they'll pull off Life Is Strange 2.
    Last edited by poroshin; 24th Aug 2017 at 21:31.

  13. #63
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2001
    Took me over a week but I have recovered emotionally from Life Is Strange and just in time for the prequel which was just released a few days ago. Anyone playing Before the Storm yet? Personally, I'll wait for the Deluxe Edition to get the bonus episode, but I hope we don't have to wait for too long. Already itching to watch a bunch of playthroughs on YouTube but don't want any spoilers.

  14. #64
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    I've been playing Life Is Strange 2 over the past two weeks or so. It's a hard one to reduce to an instant sentiment or a score, because it's one of those games that's full of clumsy moments but shows a lot of heart at the same time. In other words, it shares a lot with LIS 1 -- but the key here is a different context that's much harder to make work.

    When you move from LIS 1's teenage intimacy to LIS 2's road trip/brotherhood simulation, there's a lot more that needs to go into characterisation. Arguably, the brothers are given more nuance here than LIS 1 where Chloe was the standout and Max was mostly an empty cipher for the player... and yet, that's only half the equation. Daniel's a 9 year old, and he is fucking annoying, which is almost certainly the point because you play his older brother so it's about right on the relationship spectrum. That doesn't mean the majority of the early episodes make the interaction with him interesting or particularly enlightening in terms of child psychology. The game does a pretty cool thing similar to TWD S1 where your guidance shapes a character under your wing - but a lot of it is moral choices and expected outcomes, with nothing particularly challenging in terms of how you as the player feel you need to act to shape Daniel's personality. There's a lot of navigating personality, but there are too few moments of actual, shared learning and bonding that deepen their relationship.

    And I swear to god, there were moments where I wanted to slap the little shit so hard because he was being a frustrating brat. Realistic? Yes. Fun and interesting? No. Still, that tapers off by episode 4 when you've done your best and reap the rewards (or punishments) of what your big brother style was. This is good: it shows long-term consequence, or the illusion of it at the very least, because I'm sure there are soft resets to make the consequences less judgemental of you as a player. This part was managed as well as could be expected, with no particularly big surprises because of its design. Fair enough. So, what about the rest?

    This is where the other half of the experience is an utter failure, as far as I'm concerned. While the art and music is always on point (especially pleasing given the fact that the breadth of locations across the episodes is fairly wide), the road trip structure means each episode works like a standalone point on an arc, where you meet different characters during your journey and each introduces you to a new dynamic. Good thing, right?

    Here's a list of themes this game deals with: police violence, child kidnapping, constant racism and race-related abuse, rigid suburban conservatism, homelessness, parental abuse, parental neglect and absence, hippie commune dynamics, gay relationships, transparent religious zealotry, gay intolerance, and more abuse perpetrated because of racism. Just one of these topics is loaded, to say the least. To feature all of them across 5 episodes that last 2-3 hours each, never mind dealing with Daniel's developing personality and building your own potential relationships, is in a word hopelessly naive. Some of these are given just a look-in, and some of these are given more time; but all of them are examined in ways that are mediocre to poor in execution despite good intentions.

    The biggest failing, though, is that almost all of these encounters are so wretchedly mundane. Drama is about characters, and extracting remarkable moments from them, both quiet and loud. Almost none of the supporting characters in Life Is Strange 2 have anything beyond a broad stereotype given the most perfunctory of character wrinkles. Controlling religious grandmother? Ah, but she's got a soft heart if you do the right things. Stoner bro with dreads and eyeroll-inducing tattoos? Ah, but he's gay. Manipulative religious pastor? Okay, there's really nothing more to her. (I cannot judge if the game's treatment of Mexican Americans is accurate, so I will leave that to our Mexican/Mexican American friends to weigh in on. My impression is that Dontnod did their research, and it was well-intentioned enough that Sean and Daniel's characters almost got there, but the portrayal was still missing the complete picture.)

    Everyone outside of the main duo is a walking cliché. Witness the two gay hippie characters you meet - one wears a tie-dyed shirt, and the other has a string of beads around his neck. And everyone talks, and talks, and not a moment of poetry between any of these lines. Even an important character who writes poetry - when you read them, every poem trades in empty imagery like scraps of napkin rhyme lifted off empty picnic tables by the wind. You meet a lot of people in Life Is Strange 2, and despite taking too long with each of them, none of them is given enough room to breathe and be little more than their own stereotype.

    It is, in a word, tedious. So much of it is just too broad, just a little too clumsy, even many of the bits that work. It is a game of humdrum tedium and manufactured conflict, yet it is bookended by a premise about brotherhood that knew what it was doing. And that's why I can't shoot this game down, in the final analysis.

    It's a common truth that the journey is more important than the destination, but the ending I got struck home that my high morality decisions had but one logical conclusion, and there was no promise of a resolution where everything was going to be sunshine and rainbows. If anything, it told me something I've unconsciously known being the youngest in my family: being the older brother is a job no one asked for, but they have to do it, and sometimes they have to pay the price of being a parent because there was no one else to do it. It is drastically unfair and at the same time the biggest truth that this game somehow, in a long and winding and irritating and oft-tortuously boring road, managed to land on with a quietly profound empathy.

    I don't know if the journey was worth it, but the destination reminded me to perhaps be kinder to the brothers we have, and that's a worthwhile sentiment in the end. Life really is the fucking strangest.

    Last edited by Sulphur; 12th Jul 2020 at 08:00.

  15. #65
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2001
    Thanks for reminding me to play it. I only glanced over the paragraphs in order not to spoil things for myself too much, but it definitely makes me want to check the game myself.

  16. #66
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    I've tried to keep much of the criticism general, but yes, good idea if you don't want the broad strokes spoiled for you.

  17. #67
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    That was a thoughtful and insightful analysis, Sulphur.

  18. #68
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Thank you, Fox.

  19. #69
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2005
    Location: Netherlands
    Yeah good analysis, but personally I didn't think Daniel was that annoying at all. He's a little kid doing little kid things, but he didn't really annoy me to be honest.

    I liked the game, maybe didn't set the bar that high but I had fun with it. The characters didn't bother me although some were a bit clichéd. I was altogether invested in the story but I admit I'm more easily pleased than others, these kind of games are my thing.

    I think I got the same ending as you did, the way you describe it. A punch in the gut but altogether fitting. I did watch all the other endings on YouTube and I think I made the right choice.

  20. #70
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Quote Originally Posted by Harvester View Post
    Yeah good analysis, but personally I didn't think Daniel was that annoying at all. He's a little kid doing little kid things, but he didn't really annoy me to be honest.
    It might be a consequence of our playstyles - I tried to do the right thing but remain easygoing at the same time in the beginning, and while Daniel listened to me more often than not, he'd get into an argument and be a wilful brat at certain points, the nadir of which is what happens in Episode 3's heist, especially if you choose to tell Finn to shove it. It might also be you have a higher tolerance level for petulance, I certainly don't have the patience of a saint.

  21. #71
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2005
    Location: Netherlands
    I am forgiving about the LiS games' faults in part because I like how good-spirited and uplifting these games are. I like how these games aren't cynical at all. You find Daniel annoying and I get that. I'm easily forgiving of some tantrums because he's a good-natured kid at heart and I found the brothers' dynamic pretty well done.

    You know the type of thing I find annoying when it comes to teenage characters? You've heard of the Netflix show The End of the F***ing World? About this miserable (literal) psychopath kid and this dim-witted dull bitch who go on a road trip together and we're supposed to care about these horrible people? That's the type of thing I can't watch more than a single episode of. It's not like all the characters in entertainment have to be goody-two-shoes for me to like them, I get that people aren't all good or bad and I like complex, multi-faceted characters. I did enjoy Young Adult with Charlize Theron's vain but vulnerable character (I think Diablo Cody writes great screenplays) and I cared about the morally conflicted game character of Max Payne. And of course let's not forget Walter White. But I hated End of the Fucking World's first episode so bad I don't even want to keep watching to see if it gets better. It's nothing but cynicism, misery and awful people and I absolutely couldn't stand it. But with something as goodhearted as LiS, I can easily forgive its flaws.

    Edit: for full disclosure, Life is Strange 1 was the first game I played after my wife died, and its life-affirming qualities were just what I needed back then. This is why I'll always have a soft spot for these games.

    Edit2: I think End of the Fucking World is based on a comic book. Speaking of comic books, I tried to read Johnny the Homicidal Maniac after someone recommended it to me. Also nothing but cynicism and misery, same type of thing that really rubs me the wrong way. Literally the worst thing I ever tried reading. I also read some comic panels by Robert Crumb, same thing here, I hated it with a passion.
    Last edited by Harvester; 13th Jul 2020 at 17:31.

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