[Massive Spoilers] Life is Strange and Meaningful Choices

Accendor

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As I said in the title: Do not read any further if you do not want to be spoilered. You have been warned.

So, we had this discussion about dicisions in games here and I wrote somewhere that Life is Strange might be a good example of meaningful choices. To that time the final episode was not released. Now it is available and after playing it, I am extremely disappointend in may ways.

First of, the most important part, because it is directly connected to our previous discussion:

Nullifying player choices

It is possible to make a lot of important decisions in this game. Or at least you think so. When chapter 5 starts and Max is trapped in the Dark Room there are a lot of possibilities what happened in the past and Jefferson will reference them all. He will thank you if you blamed Nathan at the beginning and to the fact that Warren beat him up. He will talk about Kathes suicide and Victoria may be there with you, if you chose to warn her about Nathan.

At that point I was thinking "Wow, they did it. They really did it and made everything matter somehow."

But then all comes down to one choice at the end of the game: Save Chloe or save Arcadia Bay. If you chose to save Arcadia Bay every single decision of the game before will be erased. Well, except one (tearing up the photo in the classroom, but that is another problem -> See "Ending" below). You blamed Nathan? It doesn't matter. The whole game of "who's got the gun?" It does not matter. Saving the damn bird, fixing Chloes family, letting David kill Jefferson? It does not matter. Everything is meaningless and gets erased.

If you decide to save Chloe there are again a lot of decisions that do not matter anymore because you altered the past in this episode so much and so often. Basically every choice in episode 5 except the last one does not matter.

I think you see what my problem here is. One choice makes all other decisions meaningless. 4 episodes build up so much possibilities and this was the outcome.

Also it is important to mention that I did not expect like 20 endings or something like that. But let's say 3 or 4 completely different endings depending on your "big choices" with a few variations depending on the smaller choices would have been appropriate. Or at least something that does not completely ignore everything you did in the game.

And please don't say this is "because the game wants to tell you that you can not change some things." because this does also not work out (see below)

Another big problem I had were the endings in general. This is more about the story and not that much about the choice system:

The ending

#bae<bay / Save Chloe

Ok, you decide to save Chloe. The storm destroys the city, they both jump in Chloes car and drive through the city until they leave it. They are finally going on their road trip. Ok, fine. But: There are obviously survivors of that storm. They even pass the two whales diner where Joyce and Warren hid. Did they stop to check on them? Did they stop to check von ANYBODY? No, they just didn't. And that is simply not what Max would have done after all the decisions Max made during the game.

Someone on reddit posted this image and think it is very accurate:





up7m8o53.png


#bay>bae / Save Arcadia Bay

Ok, here the BS starts. First of all: What is the storm about? Why does it occure? Ok, nobody knows but Warren suspects it is because of Max using her power to change time. Chloe and Max come to the conclucsion that the only way to save arcadia bay is to return to the original timeline and stop messing around with it. There is no other way, like for example just evecuate the damn city somehow. But ok, fine. Let's accept these things as facts:

1. The storm is "fate" and can not be changed by a butterfly effect. This contradicts the whole story of the game, but whatever. Let's just accept it.

2. The storm only hits if the timeline is messed with in some way. So Chloe can not be saved because her Death is connected to the Storm and also fate. There is an infinity number of choices that could cause another butterfly effect but we are also just gonna accept this again.

3. Max needs to go back to an unaltered timeline to save arcadia bay and may never mess with time again. This is a lame plot because it was predictable, but in theory this would at least be consistent.

Ok, but here are the problems with this:

1. The ripped photograph

At the end Max is still in a heavily altered timeline and not in the original one. She is still in that timeline in which she ripped the photograph for the contest. This decision alone changed a lot as we could see in the flashbacks during the game.

2. The case of Kate Marsh

Kate attends Chloes funeral. This means she never decided to kill herself. The reasons for that are yet unknown, but I'm pretty sure Max behaviour towards here is heavily influenced from what she learnend and saw in the "main" timeline of the game, which brings us to...

3. The impossibility to NOT alter time

As long as Max has all her memories it is impossible for her to NOT alter time in any way, even if she do not want it. Every interaction she is going to have with someone from Arcadia Bay is influenced by her experiences in the alternate timelines and  therefore she changes the course of history all the time. Even if she would decide to just leave the town this would have a severe impact.

4. The case of William Price

So: There is a alternate timeline where Max saves William and Chloes has a car crash. Max saved his life.

This brings me to the questions: Why is storm only coming after several years and not one week after she saved William. As far as we know she only changed time ONCE in this timeline so this case should be totaly identical to Chloes.

Everything about this just doesn't make sense.
All in all I really like that game but the last episode ruined A LOT for me.
 

Clord

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Making AI people that believe to be real in a context of their world would be a huge step forward to make games more dynamic and let your choices to stick. Even go beyond what the creators intended.


Essentially think Life is Strange, what if every character had their own thinking AI who believed their world is real? You could literally speak to them through mic and they would believe that Max is talking to them.


This is something that is easily at least decades away. Truly immersive games because the people inside of it believe to be real.


It would open up countless ways to play. You could literally go to killing spree, pacifist route, something in between.


You know what would truly benefit from that technology? Open world games.
 
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Alexander Amnell

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Making AI people that believe to be real in a context of their world would be a huge step forward to make games more dynamic and let your choices to stick. Even go beyond what the creators intended.
    I pray that day never comes, humans having independent thought tends to wreak enough havoc on humanity without adding sentient technology to the mix. Imagine combining advanced three d printer technology with that idea for a moment, we could easily and unwittingly turn terminator into a reality that way.

   As for the choices thing, I've never seen an episodic or direct-sequel game that didn't completely invalidate past player choices for narrative consistency. The only game with sequels I've ever played that didn't retconn your previous choices into pointlessness was the witcher series, and that largely because the choices mostly exist in self-contained stories about hunting monsters that don't bring anything to bear on the main story, in fact the only choice you make that has to do with the story in the future games at all is whether you kill someone or not, with cameo missions for some of the people you didn't kill previously. 
 
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Clord

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I meant in-game. As a being in-game. No body or anything for a robot. Think Matrix but instead they believe it's real and you simply save them when you save the game, or load them when you load the game. When you shut down the game, they are gone until you load the game again.


Chloe, would believe to be real, in a real Arcadia Bay she for whatever reason is programmed directive to never wanting to leave the boundaries.
 
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