Watcha doin’ here, Kirby?
June 24, 2016
I GOT ACCEPTED INTO BLACKWELL ACADAMY.
Well, actually that was some time ahead of this entry. But who cares if you’re a time traveller? Oh deer, what a joke! Heh. Sigh.. Alright. Seriously.
Here I am, sitting in front of my screen and writing stuff about a video game. Not because I’m bored, or because I don’t know what to do with my time. I don’t even want to start a blog and go ape to get subscribers or stuff. The reason appears to be much simpler: I just feel the need to write things down. Something happened in the last couple of weeks, and it has to do with that video game. “Life is Strange”. I never heard about it before. Funny thing, I can’t even remember how I found the game, or why I bought it in the first place. I usually don’t buy games that I don’t know. Why this time? Destiny?
Anyway. When I started the game (and awoke from that nightmare with the storm), I instantly felt like I was back in school. The developers did an awesome job to create an atmosphere I couldn’t resist to fall in love with on the very first moment. Looking back at my school time, I think I had some great years there, even though it felt tough back then. Books I never read, questions I never answered, cool teachers who tried to motivate me, or those who didn’t give a damn about me. And all my old class mates of course. Friends I hung out with, the crush I never dared to talk to, the bullies. I totally felt with Kate when someone threw a paper at her. Yes, indeed: A whole school life, it was all there in the game. They didn’t retouch anything, they showed the life just as it is when you’re in school. And what do you do to escape all the mess for a moment? You listen to your favourite song. And so Max grabbed her music player and started playing “To All Of You” by Syd Matters. Wowser! Listening to that cool song in the middle of the hallway of Blackwell Academy made my heart beat faster. For the first time in the game, but certainly not for the last.
After the “intro” song, Max discovered her power and started to be an everyday hero, as she calls it. Saving a girl’s life isn’t that everyday though. DONTNOD could have gone ape with that cool game mechanic from here on, like letting Max safe the world or at least dozens of lifes a day. But they decided to keep it small and rather go into details and make each rewind and each decision meaningful. I think this was very important for the atmosphere, because it allowed me to breathe and reconsider my actions before the next breath-taking scene approaches. The whole story and it’s impact on me evolved pretty slow anyway. Some school drama here, an old friendship there. I was pushed to get familiar with Max’s life and the different people around her. And I immersed myself into it. It was fun.
And then I saw Kate, standing on that roof. With some kind of tunnel vision Max made her way up to that poor girl. She tried to talk her down, into her arms, but because of a forced break short before that scene I couldn’t remember every detail of her room and what she told Max before. So she jumped, and I was like what the hell?!? I tried to move on with the game, but I couldn’t. It didn’t feel right. I started the episode again and saved Max’s friend. What a great feeling! She lied in Max’s arms while I shed a few tears. Literally. In some way, this game made me actually feel for the characters as if they were real. Most movies won’t even do that, so hats off.
The world in Arcadia Bay looked a bit brighter now. Everyday hero Max on her way to the next adventure! And right when I thought I fully comprehend the game and it’s storyline, they put me 5 years back in time. Well played, guys! It was fun though, I really enjoyed it. And I was determined to save Chloe’s dad. Only god knows how bad. I had to rewind a few times, but then – boom! William took the bus and Max happily danced around Chloe, shouting “I am awesome! We are awesome!”. My eyes are getting wet again while thinking of it, and what happened next. Back in today, Max ran to Chloe’s house, saw William, cool, everything looks fine, right? Wrong. Wrong, so fuckin wrong… Under the beautiful vibes of “Kids Will Be Skeletons” by Mogwai I started crying as Chloe showed up in a wheelchair. Life can be so cruel. And “Life is Strange” shows no mercy in teaching it.
At this point, I was totally addicted to the game. It was weekend, and I didn’t think about starting anything else even for one second. I wanted to fix that. And I dared DONTNOD to let me do this. They should be happy that they did. But of course they had to torture me first. Max had to learn about Chloe’s bad health and her parent’s debts and worries. Till Chloe asked Max to end it. End her life, her suffering. “Fuck you DONTNOD!” was what I thought. “I won’t do this! You cannot force me to kill my best friend!” I can’t remember if I actually shouted in that moment. They had me where they wanted me, totally absorbed in the story and the characters, showing emotions just like I was Max myself. I took the picture of 2008 and fixed everything. I wanted my best friend back. That fuckin punk which I was introduced to. And I was willing to trade William’s life for her. But yes, it felt terrible. You know someone will die if he leaves the house, and you could save him, but you do a shit. At this point, the game created an emotional mess inside me. So let some tears roll for the lolz! Dammit. I’m sorry, Chloe. But at least I don’t have to tell you.
To give that crap a meaning, I now wanted to focus on helping Chloe to find Rachel. I was confident I could do it. But then I found the dark room, the photos of Rachel, and eventually the spot at the junkyard. She was dead. And while I felt for Chloe, Nathan was able to get me. And to shoot Chloe. I inwardly screamed to myself, “Rewind! REWIND!”, while Chloe went down in slow motion. And then I looked up and saw Jefferson instead of Nathan… JEFFERSON! How could I be so naive?? The only main character in the game who was always nice, who has been mentioned often enough to play a role in the story without exposing his part. I felt so stupid, and so angry at the same time… That bastard killed Chloe! I’m going back in time, save my friend and we’ll beat the shit out of that goddamn motherfucker!
Ahem… You may have noticed that I switched my style from saying “Max did..” to first person. That’s intended. I was Max now. Change of scene. It felt great to be back in Jefferson’s class and shout at him for (from Jefferson’s point of view) no reason. Again I felt like I had the power over how the game will end, and I thought I could foresee a possible end. And yet again, the game told me otherwise. My diary was burnt, most of my power was gone, and I had no clue how to handle that storm outside anyway. I ran out of time. Kirby the time traveller ran out of time. I escaped and hurried to Warren. Death was all around me. “This has to end now”, I said to myself. I went back, told Chloe about everything, about the horror in the dark room, and I hoped that I finally found the right path.
And then, the game ultimately broke my mind. I was back in Jefferson’s class for no reason. The windows turned red as dozens of birds crashed into them. Then everyone was gone, but nothing seemed to be correct. Sad scribbling on Kate’s table, weird posters on the walls, and on top of that the dialog with Jefferson. Goosebumps. I tabbed into the diary screen, and I got literally shocked. That lousy game started playing tricks on me! Not on Max, but on me, Kirby, the player! Things became more and more strange in the nightmare scene, and I only wanted to end it already. But as I reached the diner and then walked by the memories path, I finally got a clue about how they wanted me to end the game. And I prayed for another option.
Back in reality, standing next to Chloe and in front of the lighthouse, I was listening so damn closely to every damn word Max and Chloe said. I was waiting for a slightest hint on how to fix everything. But there was none. None that I wanted to hear. It was only Max and the final choice. I don’t have to mention that I cried like a baby at that point. And no. I didn’t choose either option. I didn’t end the game. Till today. Of course I watched both endings on youtube, and I cried again, call me weak. But I don’t end the game now. Wanna now why? Because I fell in love with the game and the characters. I didn’t know nor would’ve ever believed that I could put my heart so hella deep into a game that it’s able to make me cry like a baby, or make me feel depressed. And I felt depressed with the ending. I still do. That’s why I have to write things down. That’s why I even joined LiSF. I need people who understand me, who went through the same shit, and who felt the same.
What’s now? I have to work things out. And think about the game and the ending. There’s a lot of philosophy in it. And a lot about life, and how I see it. I’ll take my time, though. And maybe, some day, I will be able to decide how to end the game. In a way that I can handle, at least. And I’m thankful for such an awesome piece of art. Yes, art. It’s more than a game.
So. Watcha doin’ here, Kirby? Living a strange life. And I’m hella loving it.