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Life is Strange was one of the most riveting narrative adventures I’ve ever played. It captured the essence of what it was to be a teenager, to hate high school, to want to succeed beyond the brick walls of a teenage hell. And through Max’s adventure as she acquired her time-changing ability, I felt myself changing. On the journey through Life Is Strange, I remembered my own high school friends and our own adventures. And I remembered the things I had learned growing up, things Life Is Strange reiterated in the most dramatic way possible. And I’ll never forget them. With the physical release of Life Is Strange Limited Edition on PS4 next week, I think back to everything I learned from experiencing Max’s story. Warning: spoilers ahead.
1. High School SucksHigh school, for many, is an intermission between the extravagant adventures of youth and the freedom and complexities of adulthood. It’s a time when you can discover what kind of person you want to become and what you want to do for the rest of your life. For others, it’s a walk through hell where each day is longer than the last. Max clearly portrays high school as just another dungeon holding nefarious villains like Nathan Prescott and Victoria Chase. And she’s right, high school was a bummer.
2. A True Best Friend Is ForeverIf you think back to all of the friends you’ve ever had in your life, there’s always one that stands out. One who tried just a little harder than the rest to make you feel better after a bad break-up, or who would spend hours talking with you about life on the roof of your garage. These friends are once-in-a-lifetime characters, just like Max’s friend Chloe. These friends are there for you when you need them and even after they disappear and we move on with our lives, you’ll never forget that one true best friend.
3. Bullies Never ChangeIt’s true what they say about mean girls—or boys. They’ll never change. Max’s enemy, Victoria Chase, loves to make others feel smaller than her. And when she’s 40-years-old, she’ll still enjoy belittling others. Max’s other notorious enemy, Nathan Prescott, will always release the pressures of his family name and his father’s obvious neglect onto others through violence and anger. The mean kids may grow up, but that doesn’t mean age takes the mean out of them. I’ve even seen this firsthand in my own life.
4. You Can’t Change The PastMaybe one of the strongest lessons to come out of Life is Strange is the point that you can never change the past. What’s done is done and that’s the way it was supposed to be done. Even when Max can magically rewind time to fix an outcome, doesn’t mean she fixed it for the best. Matter of fact, every time she rewound time, it seemed to make things worse or open up a whole new issue. No matter how many times she tried to change the past, nothing ever turned out the way she wanted. Because you aren’t supposed to change the past.
5. Be Kind To EveryoneSuch is the case with the girl seemingly ever-depressed and hopeless in Life Is Strange, Kate is a mess. But there are many people out there who are just like her. You never know what someone has gone through that has made them the way they are. Or what demons they may be hiding or silently battling. Kate’s demons drove her to the edge. Even the smallest negative comment or action can bring someone to the edge, whether it’s beeping your horn at someone in traffic or taking out your bad day on an innocent bystander.
6. Adults Aren’t Always RightWhen we grow up, most of us are brought up with this notion that the adult figures in our lives can do no wrong, that what they say goes and there’s no way to argue it. When Mr. Jefferson took advantage of Max, he wasn’t right. And just because he was an authority figure in Max’s life didn’t mean what he was doing was right in any way. Sometimes adults make mistakes too. When Max suspected foul play from Chloe’s stepfather, but instead found out what Mr. Jefferson had been doing, suddenly not all adults seemed like good guys.
7. Live In The MomentWithin Life Is Strange, there were very subtle moments when you really felt like life couldn’t be any better. One of those moments was when Max was in Chloe’s room and Chloe and Max started dancing on the bed together. The game gave you the option to dance as long as you wanted. To just...enjoy…life. Another moment Chloe and Max understood the little things was out on the bluffs overlooking the ocean. Chloe and Max sat down next to each other on the bench and you could sit there, pondering, and taking in the view. Life is really about enjoying these little moments, because in a heartbeat, they’re gone.
8. Take Pictures Of EverythingWhether it’s a high-def photo taken with an expensive DSLR or a selfie taken with a cellphone, pictures are forever. It’s important to savor and honor those memories by capturing them with film. I’ve always understood the importance of a photograph, the ability to seize a moment for eternity. Max saw the world through a lens and was able to identify what moments were worth saving, and when she struggled to find the perfect picture for the photo contest, she was really struggling with herself. It makes me think about how our society has changed from enjoying a photo on film to pulling out a cell phone and snapping the moment. It’s become more casual, and I think the speed of a selfie or cellphone photo allows us to capture more moments in life before they pass.
9. Sometimes You Can Be Wrong About SomeoneWe are all guilty of pre-judgement. We look at someone and judge them based on their appearance, the way they talk and how they move. But do we really know what’s going on inside their heads? Such is the case of Chloe’s stepfather. He seemed like a horrible person, and sometimes even the enemy, but in the end he came out as the hero and the good guy. And I don’t think I even have to mention Max’s photography professor on where we went wrong there. At least I was really shocked at that outcome and absolutely wrong about my predictions.
10. You Can’t Save EveryoneThis is by far the most important theme in all of Life Is Strange. It’s something Max had to learn the hard way. You can’t save everyone. In Max’s case, the final game decision left you a choice between who to save, the town or Chloe. Even though there isn’t a wrong answer, it’s pretty obvious what the right thing to do is. But no matter what choice you make, someone has to die. And the game even makes it apparent which decision is the right one, because one ending is far more satisfying than the other, depending how you look at things. Life Is Strange was a journey through time that altered many players’ views on life, including mine. From the cool and collected soundtrack that played as I had Max chill in her dorm room, to the moments Chloe and Max connected. It kind of made me appreciate certain things more, like my friends and family and where I’m at in life right now. And when January 19 rolls around, I’ll pick up my limited edition Life Is Strange game and play through it again...and again, and again.