SIONL: Is ‘Time is Strange’ Smarter Than First Appearances?

I’m going to have the most major spoiler of the second episode of Time is Strange, so consider yourself warned.

I have a thing about games that offer me choice.  I replay them, a lot.  The more choice it offers, the more I replay.  I tinker and fiddle with the choices, until I have crafted the narrative to perfection.  I’m weird like that.  It’s the reason that I now have playing through the Mass Effect games down to a science.  For real, it’s almost uncanny how well I do at that.  I am the guy who can have all my crew love me and a ton of allies, while having a TON of renegade points.  It’s a gift.  Oh, and because I am awesome, all of my crew survives the Suicide Mission.  I never have lost Wrex on Virmire.  I got both the Geth and Quarian fleet the first time I went through Mass Effect 3, and I got it by yelling at everyone!  How badass am I?!  Sure, it means that Mordin has to die, but so be it.  He dies like a boss, and it is a touching moment.  If the third game’s last act was better, my return to Earth would have been such a boss moment.  I had the ultimate fleet in the galaxy.  Wish I could have put it to use on Earth.  But that’s just me griping.  I do that.  Hence why I write these Self-Indulgent and Overstated Nerdrage/love posts.

But to the topic of the video, I am totally into Life is Strange.  Judge me how you will, I think it’s fun.  The characters are interesting.  The mystery is engaging.  And I can’t wait to see what happens next!  Still, this is a game where I can tinker with the universe of it.  It gives me so many narrative choices.  As such, what do you all think I’d do?  Tinker, of course!  I have tinkered with the two episodes that are out in a way where I think that I have the perfect remedy.  For real, I have allies, friends I can count on, and Max’s best friend is totally falling for me, thanks to my choices.  I can’t wait to see episode 3 come out, so I can continue this tinkering.

However, the first time I went through Episode 2, I screwed up.  On the scene of the rooftop, where you are trying to convince Kate not to jump, I messed up.  I gave her the wrong Bible verse, and she jumped.  It hurt!  No kidding, I felt terrible.  I vowed to restart both episodes, to try and set things up better.  But the second time, it was even worse!  Whereas the first time, it was one small mistake, the second time, I blew it big time.  No matter what choices I made, her fate was decided before I walked on that rooftop, because of earlier choices.  That hurt.  However, I learned from it.  I went back and I was able to change things again, and I saved her!  It was such an awesome feeling.  When I got her off that rooftop, I felt like a boss.  And it got me to thinking.

The whole angle of Life is Strange is about how you can change things by controlling time.  You can go back and change the course of your story, each time you hit the rewind button.  And if you really screw up, then you can go back even further.  You can go back to the beginning of the episode, by going to the start menu.  I figure that it was most likely game mechanics, but at the same time, I can’t help but think that these people had some understanding of what they had created.  It was almost like a statement about the game’s universe or gaming itself.  Don’t like the choice you made?  Just go even further back.  You, the player, are the God of this universe.

Max’s life is affected by you.  What happens to her, her friends and the people she loves is at your fingers.  It isn’t her that’s changing all these people’s lives.  It’s you!  It’s like a part of this game is self-aware.  It’s telling that the person you are trying to save is someone who believes in God.  It’s like the game is sending you a message.  The message is – this is what it would be like if you were God.  Do you like it?  Well, now you know what God is like.  Again, I have no idea if this was intentional.  Maybe I’m just over-analyzing.  It’s what I do.  Love or hate a game, I over-analyze the shit out of it.  And this is a cool thought.

Earlier, when Max and Chloe were at the junkyard, I had Chloe shoot the bumper of a car.  The bullet ricochets and hits Chloe.  That freaked me out!  I had had her do that!  Me!  Like some kind of omniscient asshole, I had Chloe accidentally shoot herself.  That’s nuts!  I went back and changed things, but can you imagine that?  Can you imagine what that would do to you?  You see someone you love shoot themselves, because of what you say.  That would fuck you up!  Even if you could rewind and take it back.  Seeing their blood and potentially guts go everywhere.  I can’t image.

Gaming is reaching a point where you have them becoming somewhat self-aware.  Games like Bioshock, that make a point about how the player has no real choice.  Games like Spec Ops: The Line, where you show that the player is the willing participant in carnage.  Games like Divekick, where they make a point about how people exploit the dive-kick move.  Gaming is getting really smart about its medium.  And that’s a great thing.  It means that we have more to talk about, and you know what – I’m always down with that.

What do you all think?

Until next time, a quote,

“To truly make the Matrix work, we had to give them one thing.  Choice.”  -The Architect, Matrix: Reloaded

Peace out,

Maverick

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