It’s been a good month since the last episode of Life Is Strange was released, so I’m reasonably confident that lots of people have completed the game by now. To those of you that haven’t yet completed the game: I’m going to spoil the ever-loving shit out of the ending. Do not read beyond this paragraph if you want to experience the game to the end for yourself unspoiled. You have been warned.
Throughout Life Is Strange, there are two equally prevalent running sub themes regarding your heroism: you’re fighting to save Chloe, your estranged best friend who can’t seem to avoid danger, and you’re saving your fellow Arcadia Bay citizens, in minor or major ways. As the game reaches its climax, you gradually realise that the major storm at the end of the game is a result of your tampering with time throughout the game, but crucially linked to the moment that you saved Chloe’s life way back in the first few minutes of the game.
The very last decision that you make in the game is tied into this: standing over the town you’ve become a hero to in the past week, grasping the hand of your soulmate, you’ve got to make the gut-wrenching decision over which to sacrifice for the other. Go back in time so that you never saved Chloe and the storm will never occur, or watch the storm rip apart the town and its inhabitants and walk into the sunset with Chloe.
What’s so interesting about this choice is that it’s directly affected by the context of the decisions you’ve made throughout the entire game. All of those relationships you’ve built with all the people you’ve gone out of your way to save or help: wiped out in one fell swoop, in the name of selfish love.
And that’s why this last choice is perfect. It goes beyond being a test of the moral quandary “do the lives of many outweigh the lives of the few”. It really makes you think about how much you actually value the decisions you’ve made throughout the game. Are you willing to effectively negate the meaning of any of your decisions to save your best friend? It’s the kind of question that only a video game, as an interactive medium, can ask. A lot of the problems that people had with the ending of Mass Effect 3 was the feeling that none of your choices mattered (I’m something of a Mass Effect 3 defender, but that’s for another day). Life Is Strange allows you to choose between your lasting agency as a player, and the emotional needs of you and your character. And for that reason, the game does something special.
Image credits: pushsquare.com