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12/30/2017 00:33:18 •••

Manipulative Bitch: A Life Is Strange Story

Having had as good a time as I did during my visit to Arcadia Bay, I was naturally pretty psyched to see a prequel announced not long after I played it.Then I saw that Chloe was the main character. But I'm an optimistic sort and that, so I deigned to give them a chance in spite of myself. Maybe they could make the most of an opportunity to provide more insight into Chloe's indefatigable... Chloeness?

The game starts out on the right foot, displaying a more caring and selfless Chloe. Despite her problems, she seems to be on the way to a better life. Then, Chloe met Rachel. Yes, that Rachel, who—in an appreciated twist—is revealed to be a far-cry from the near-beatified image of her perpetuated in the first game. Rachel, it is revealed, has an even weaker reason than Chloe to be acting out. Her every action seems rehearsed and self-serving, and she's an actively poisonous influence on Chloe.

Though I'm thankful the game at least allows you a choice in this matter, the very fact that it pushes for a romantic relationship between the two is laughable at best, and disturbing at worst. Rachel seems all but incapable of love; at least, anything but the kind of destructive love borne of morbid self-attention and codependency. Even without knowing what we know, it could only end in tears.

The girl definitely has mental issues out the gizzard, and even shows some level of self-awareness of this, but this would only excuse a pittance of her questionable actions at best. Oh hey, do I even have to tell you at this point that the Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy set in to the point that I gave up on the main story halfway through episode 2? No? You is a perceptive one, you is. Have a cookie. It's too bad too, because the Sadistic Choice in this one, I quite like. At the very least it was congruent with the larger story being told, this time.

But hey, it's not as if the main plot was necessarily the bread and butter of the original game either, right? Well, it's just too bad this feels like a "mini-series" in more ways than one. The measured artisanship of the original in terms of atmospheric touches and pacing is all but nonexistent. New characters pass in and out of the story with little fanfare, their redundancy to the main plot laid bare with shocking frequency. In a word, it feels rushed.

The only thing I truly appreciated about this massive disappointment is the deeper insight provided into Chloe's "step-douche", who is one of the most complex and, dare I say, human characters in recent video games. But almost invariably, the new developers fail at both putting their own stamp on the IP, and retreating old ground for some cheap nostalgia value.

(And no, my opinion wasn't at all influenced by them passing up Kate Beverly Marsh—an angel too good for this sinful earth—for a spinoff protagonist. Seriously though, you will face divine retribution in due time. Deus vult.)

12/30/2017 00:00:00

I\'m pretty sure the Rachel/Chloe love story wasn\'t meant to be portrayed in an especially positive light. The Stinger shows it\'s going to end in tragedy anyway.

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