Category Archives: Life is Strange

Video Games Are Art

Art: The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. (Thanks, Google.)

My favorite moment in Life Is Strange: Episode 1, Chloe’s house — Max sits on the swing that the deceased father of her best friend built for the two of them and thinks back to happier times.

Despite the prompt to get up — “Space Get Up” — you can sit on the swing for as long as you want.

If this 1 minute and 49 seconds isn’t an “expression or application of human creative skill and imagination” in a “visual form” that is beautiful and emotionally powerful, than I don’t know what is.

0:17 — 2:06:

Why I Have Mixed Feelings About “Life Is Strange: Before The Storm”

Life Is Strange (2015) is my favorite video game, and one of my favorite stories, ever.

So when a prequel —  Life Is Strange: Before The Storm — was announced at E3 2017…

…a part of me screamed “Yes!” while another part moaned “No!”

Why?

Well, as Cracked put it: The past was more interesting before we saw it happen.

When a magician hears the audience gasp and say, “How’d he do that?” he does not turn around and loudly announce, “Oh, the rabbit’s in my assistant’s ass.” Similarly, professional writers know that there are some questions that their audience doesn’t want answered, even though they think they do. Like a magician, a writer wants his audience to live in that space between knowing and wanting to know. That’s what keeps them coming back for more.

Having watched the trailer three times, my feelings towards it are more positive than they were on my first watch. For example: Before The Storm seems to be delving into Chloe’s psyche through the use of nightmares — Chloe dreams she is in the car on the day of her dad’s accident — like Life Is Strange did with Max near the end of Episode 5. (Max’s nightmare being one of my favorite sections of that game.) But… but…

sigh

You know the airport fight in Godzilla (2014)? The fight that you never saw happen?

Here’s why I’m ultimately glad Gareth Edwards cut away right before Godzilla and the MUTO went at it: The fight I imagine will  be superior to the fight I see.

And it’s the same with Before The Storm: The story I imagine will be superior to the story I see.

Another aspect of Before The Storm that has me thinking Don’t do that is the crow imagery:

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Depending on who you talk to, crows are considered bad luck. And Chloe, to put it lightly, could be called unlucky.

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The crow imagery reminds me of the Chosen One prophecy in the “Star Wars” prequels.

Thanks to the prequels, now in Return of the Jedi the Emperor’s death isn’t the result of Darth Vader choosing to save his son’s life — it’s the fulfillment of a prophecy.

The crow imagery has the potential to change Chloe’s death in Life Is Strange from a tragic accident…

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…to the cruel, calculated machinations of the universe: The universe has it out for Chloe, and won’t stop until she loses everything — her dad, her best friend and, finally, her life.

Which would make sense, given what we hear in Life Is Strange:

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But still: I would rather have Chloe’s death be an accident, not the fulfillment of the universe’s sadistic plan for one Arcadia Bay teen.

One reason why: Chloe’s fate being set in stone — if the crow imagery is anything to judge by — robs the “Life Is Strange” series of one of its most thought-provoking attributes: Choice.

Image result for life is strange whoever said we had a single fate

At the end of Life Is Strange, Chloe could have “forced” Max to make one choice or another by, for example, putting her step-dad’s gun to Max’s head and telling her “Don’t go back in time and allow me to die.” But she didn’t. Chloe chose to allow Max to make her own choice. Ultimately, it was free will, not fate, that killed Chloe.

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Of course, all of this is just a reaction to the first trailer. I’ll have to play the game in its entirety before I have the… big picture.

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But I’m praying like Kate Marsh that Beyond The Storm isn’t what I fear it is.

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Why I Stopped Watching “13 Reasons Why”

Note: Language. And spoilers for Life Is Strange.

Recently, I decided to see if the popular Netflix series 13 Reasons Why was worth the hype.

I got halfway through episode 4 before I stopped.

I was willing to accept the premise: A high school girl blames everyone expect herself for the choice she makes.

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There’s one person holding the knife, Hannah — you.

I was willing to forgive our protagonist masturbating to a picture of the girl who would eventually kill herself — a scene I skipped when it became all too clear what Clay was doing with that cloth he pulled our of a drawer. Watching a teenage boy masturbate is not my idea of entertainment.

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“My computer is the only one who gets me.”

But the straw that broke the camel’s back was characters’ refusal to talk to each other about their struggles.

Whether it was teens talking to teens, teens talking to their parents, or teens talking to authority figures, it’s like there’s a force-field around the characters of 13 Reasons Why preventing person-to-person interaction.

I know mystery is a pillar of drama, but 13 Reasons Why felt needlessly complex. It felt like mystery for the sake of mystery: Mystery at the expense of common sense. If people just sat down and said “___ is how I’m feeling. And ___ is why,” the question of “What do we do about Hannah Baker’s suicide?” would be answered in 5 seconds.

The most infuriating character of all was Tony.

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I kept hoping that someone would pin Tony against a wall, tell him to cut the bullshit (pardon my French), and just explain what his deal is.

Because, Tony, to quote Jack Sparrow:

While watching 13 Reasons Why, I would always eventually think to myself “I would rather be playing Life Is Strange.” One reason why being: The characters in Life Is Strange actually talk to each other about what they’re going through.

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Maybe I’ll give the series another chance soon. After all: This could all just be hyperbole — I could be totally wrong and characters in 13 Reasons Why really do open up to each other. But my first impression was not a good one. The impression I walked away with from the 4 episodes I watched was: A lot of cloak-and-dagger with no method to its madness other than stringing out the story of a teenage girl’s suicide for as long as possible:

’13 Reasons Why’ Officially Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix

The Emoji Movie: It’s Not All Bad

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Being a fan of Life is Strange, I’m a member of a Life is Strange fan group.

Recently, one of the members of that group brought something to my attention:

A blue-haired, skull-wearing character in The Emoji Movie (2017) bears a suspicious resemblance to a certain character…

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Ironic, considering that Chloe Price hates emoji:

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Also of interest is the character’s name: Jailbreak. She’s the “Rebel emoji.”

Chloe is also a rebel.

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My takeaway from this is: The creators of The Emoji Movie have good taste.

Plus, who knows? The resemblance between the two characters could cause someone to discover Life is Strange. And for this reason, this reason, and this reason, I’d say that’s a good thing.

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And yes, Chloe, I can put on some music now.

Melancholy

“Even when they explore the darkest depths of the soul or the most unsettling aspects of evil, artists give voice in a way to the universal desire for redemption.”
~Pope John Paul II — Letter to Artists

Sehnsucht: “Tender, wistful, and/or melancholic desire; yearning, longing.”

I’ve been feeling melancholic lately.

The reason why is: Once again, I find myself stuck in a rut.

My circumstances being what they are, my foreseeable future sees me continuing to work at a grocery store stocking shelves and pricing items and saving up my money for future endeavors.

On the one hand, I’m happy:

I’d spent months vacillating about whether or not to return to college. And, when I was recently made more aware of my financial situation earlier this month, that put an end to my indecisiveness. I wouldn’t be returning to college. At least, not for a long time.

On the other hand, I’m sad:

I see my family and friends going off and doing so many amazing things with their lives, and I can’t help but feel trapped.

I know I’m not the same person I was 4 years ago — before I went to college and before I made the decision to come home.

For example: Now I feel like I know what I want to do with my life: Be a screenwriter.

But it’s hard not to feel that I haven’t grown or, worse, regressed.

And that fear makes me think: As a Catholic, am I supposed to be melancholic? Is there a place for sadness in the life of a follower of Jesus?

After all: I’m a bringer of the Good News: “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.'” (Mark 16:15)

How can I be sad?

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I can be sad because I’m only human.

“‘You can’t go home again’ said Thomas Wolfe. Yet here I am.”
~Max Caulfield, Life is Strange

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“I’m somewhere
You’re somewhere
I’m nowhere
You’re nowhere”
~Angus & Julia Stone

The Duty Of The Artist

Two of my closest friends have joined the Armed Forces.

One a Marine. The other a member of the National Guard.

Because of my physical condition — I have metal plates in my hips as result of surgery to combat effects of the cerebral palsy I was born with (I was born three months premature) — I am not fit to serve my country in the same way as them.

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I’m exercising. Building up my strength and endurance. But the reality is: When it comes to my physicality, I’ll always hit a wall that others won’t.

Since it’s clear that my future lies not in working with my body, but in working with my mind, that’s one reason why I decided to pursue writing.

I used to feel bummed that I wasn’t able to do everything that my friends were doing.

But, a recent thought has caused me to see my decision to devote my time and talents to becoming an artist in a new light:

A soldier’s duty is to fight for home. An artist’s duty is to make home worth fighting for.

On a related note:

It’s art — music and visuals — like this that make me appreciate my home:

Celebrating Beauty: Max Comforts Kate

These last 2 months have been rough.

In February, I started my first job in over 3 years. I’m glad I’m working again, but it can be hard.

Last week, I decided to end a relationship with a friend after I came to the conclusion that communication had broken down and such a relationship was now doing me more harm than good. In short: Briefly, I became the kind of person I promised myself I would never be, and that cost me someone dear. I pray for her, wishing her the best. But I came to the conclusion that it is better for me if she not have such a prominent place in my life anymore.

My deadline for deciding whether or not to continue my college education is drawing near.

There has been at least one bright spot, though: I finished my first screenplay.

It’s a short film about how a young woman’s choice to go naked effects her search for meaning in her life after she returns home upon dropping out of college.

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The reason I say all of this is:

I am bringing back Celebrating Beauty.

Celebrating Beauty was a series of posts I wrote in December — I tried to write one every day — celebrating the beauty in the world.

I was sick of, and depressed by, the 24-hour news cycle of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, rapes, and murders, and wanted to do what I could to shine some light into the darkness.

After the rough time I’ve had lately, I’ve realized that I need beauty in my life now more than ever.

There won’t be any limit on Celebrating Beauty now — I won’t be doing it just for one month.

The first entry in the new Celebrating Beauty series:

Max Caulfield comforting a depressed Kate Marsh in DONTNOD Entertainment’s Life is Strange:

Thank you to Wild Woman Sisterhood for the photo.