With regard to Ashly Burch, I think our lead writer covers it pretty well here:
Cheers @moss_icon @Nightgaunt. It is a pity about the original cast not returning. I’m not sure how much say the developers have on hiring, but my first instinct is to believe the union side of the story, that they are being paid way too little. Give Tiny Tina all the money she asks!
The strike is really complicated, and all of it is outside the developer’s control. The demands aren’t really about wages, but about things like length of sessions, intensity of sessions, and royalty payments. There’s a thread about it, if you’re curious!
So i’m out of the woods with some personal stuff and am in a place i’m ready for BtS. This weekend, it will start to happen. First i need to replay LiS… ack! I’ve only played it once, and then my dog pushed the keyboard off the couch and erased the save game. I’ve never had the heart to play it again. So, i should probably do that… but eek! already getting squirmy thinking about replaying it. Really, that game.
Then i’ll play BtS, and only then watch the GeekRemix video commentaries. I never participated in LiS “fan community” during the series - i only played the whole thing in one binged out weekend that left me suppressing a sniffle all through work on the next Monday. This is serious stuff! Gotta do it right.
Looks like episode two is coming hella soon, October 19.
Haha. I’m still too scared to play! I really have to be in the right mood for this franchise. Eek! It’s like Saudade * 80s-90s Nostalgia * Mid-Life Crisis rolled up into one! I think BtS is more young adult though so probably I won’t feel quite as connected with it as LiS.
Trying to learn how to play Max and Chloe by Jonathan Morali on the guitar actually.
I might have to skip replaying LiS again. Think that’s the real hangup.
You missed “Bay Days” – Some fans were playing the original game on the days on which they take place in the story (starting on October 7).
So I played the latest episode last night, had my quarter to three experience, that was around the time I finished. This episode seems to be dialed down a bit from the first one, there’s less going on or maybe I should say the events are much less dramatic. There are still conflicts between Chloe and, you know, just about anybody you want to pick a fight with. But most of the events here are kept into the realm of believably teenage antics for the most part. But I liked that, because I really like the relationship between Chloe and Rachel. It’s got this way of making you pull for these two even though you already know things won’t turn out well for them (not really a spoiler, I mean it’s ancient history by the time the first game’s episodes were released).
Best part? Fixing up that beat up old truck. I love stuff like that, and the hideout too, where you can decorate and fix up your own personal space in a game. I didn’t expect that. The stuff that interests me least is all Rachel’s family business, which I think is too bad because it looks like it’s just going to be more front and center in the final episode. Guess I’ll see how things go once it’s all wrapped up.
Ok so i’m in! Haven’t finished the first episode yet. TBH i actually didn’t know (for some reason) the in-game dates of the events of LiS… and i didn’t replay LiS during that time. I have failed as a fan.
This is almost exactly like LiS! If you told me this was “reconstructed” rather than reused assets, i’d be astonished. Even the collision model feels the same. The fonts, the dialog interactions, the art style. It’s just about dead on. I think you nailed the proportions and look of younger Chloe about as well as could be done.
Chloe’s voice was the first thing i noticed, like everyone. So far DeVries has done a good job… and the way she talks sometimes feels exactly the same as the old Chloe. Almost like Burch’s hand in the dialog at times. In fact i feel like it is appropriate she sounds a little younger and different. It’s when her voice gets deeper, i think that’s what throws people off. Also… sometimes it actually does sound like Ashly Burch, in short throwaway comment that don’t have a lot of vocal emphasis. Maybe two or three times. I think it was Burch’s performance in LiS that everybody loved, but i’m not near far enough into BtS to see what Rhianna DeVries does with it.
I feel like Deck Nine has almost completely gotten rid of Bioware “paper doll” conversations that Life is Strange mostly did away with - two characters stiffly facing each other, maybe twitching their arms. The characters seem much more animated and able to have conversations in more detailed scenes. My most painful memory of this in LiS 1 was the scene on the beach during the storm. They more or less admitted they’d run out of money at that point, but it felt like without MOCAP LiS 1 could sometimes feel stiff, as if you could see the budget peeking through. I appreciate the subtle improvement in character fluidity here.
LiS 1 felt a bit like French fans of American television and film making an American style game - there was a bit of … out-of-body translation experience… BtS otoh feels much more American written. I think the dialog has a more organic, natural feel to it. Not to say LiS wasn’t iconic in it’s own way - sometimes the very slightly awkward unreproducible foreignness has an appeal of its own. I did notice it feels a bit more modern in context than LiS 1, despite actually being earlier in time. References to social media and stuff. Many times in LiS 1 you wouldn’t hardly be able to distinguish if it were taking place in 1993 or 2013.
So far i can’t tell how much BtS “leans into” LiS. I felt a bit… unsure… about Chloe having the same kind of “Rookie” style diary/artbook as Max. It feels a bit like “this is what Life is Strange games have”. But watching some Youtube videos, the fans seem to love it, so all good with me! The characterization of Chloe definitely, definitely leans into what hardcore fans saw Chloe as representing, and i think that’s great! Especially in our modern context with all the issues with politics and social revelations going on, i suspect BtS will be very well received.
Reading other reviews it seems like a measure of success is how many of them almost set aside typical game review issues - how does this or that work, or this or that system interact - and go straight to the narrative. Probably the highest complement you can receive.
I do like the backtalk system. It seems like a neat workaround to give Chloe her “own thing” without going back to the supernatural rewind stuff of Max.
Oh hey, nice little tidbit here:
And looks like we have a release date for the final episode, December 20. Curious to see how this wraps up without being a total downer.
I didn’t want to talk about this until i had finished, but yea, pretty pumped that Ashly is back. Look… let’s just make the “drive off into the sunset” ending everyone know is the real canon ending!
Ashly Burch won the Golden Joystick award for her Horizon: Zero Dawn which…
lemme be honest, has to be a nod on her past performances, because there’s basically nothing for her to “act” in Horizon. Though i liked the game what her character does, as far as vocal performance goes, compared to Life is Strange Horizon is like a B-side re-release. It’s a bit galling for a fanboy like me that she won “breakthrough” performance when it was obviously (!!) LiS that was the breakthrough, but whatever. The article featuring her in the NYT and crying when being denied the chance to play Chloe again in Before the Storm because of the strike was pretty hard for me to read, but probably helped her award chances, tbh. Which leads me to a certain place wondering about certain decisions about using non-union actors… which thoughts i’ll compose myself at a later time. I think Waypoint already had an article about it.
I still have a hard time playing though, lol. It doesn’t take place in the 90s but the whole series (to me) feels so full of 90s nostalgia. I should probably record myself squirming while playing - or maybe not, maybe listening to a guy squirming isn’t really something people want to listen to ;). It’s actually hard for me to pin down how this hits some kind of nostalgia buttons on an instinctive, irrational, subconscious level. I think (think!) it’s because the Pacific Northwest loomed large in the 90s as a kind of long hoped for aspirational destination, both culturally and personally.
Before the Storm, just FYI, is now 4K on the PS4, so i … had to start over again.
Sooo i’m just going to livestream my thoughts (before i forget them). Since i have historically hogged this thread anyway, why stop now?
[edit: rediscovering the spoiler tag!]
Poor Ethan. [oops Eliot]
Never expected D&D! I feel like the potion should’ve done something.
Is that a cameo of Lisa in the theatre room?
Parallel of photography/Mr.Jefferson v theatre/Mr.Keaton?
Im feeling the fan fiction.
Max brings out the best in people? It’s interesting the take here seems for the characters in the process of becoming the stereotypes we see in LiS part 1. Nathan might not be bad, but he’s still a sniveling weasel. Victoria is a proto-diva.
Maybe too much dad drama? I was going to write something like a Tale of Two Chloes, comparing the many similarities between Uncharted Lost Legacy and this (despite being totally different genres), how they’re both send offs of their characters and settings. But i realized Chloe’s Big Adventure in Lost Legacy is… her father’s legacy. As is her partner’s personal drama… as is Chloe Price’s big arc… as is Rachael’s. Maybe my only criticism so far?
The voice actress is … no Ashly Burch. Don’t really want to throw her under the bus, but kinda have to. I will say i think her saving grace is she sounds younger than Ashly and Chloe is younger here so it barely, only just, fits.
Episode 2 -Spoilers Ho!
I was afraid DeckNine wouldn’t read between the lines and obsess on the petty details? Ahah. Jokes on me. The attention to established character details is amazing. Also this game… I mean, there’s only one ending to LiS 1 now right? C’mon. This is like Repo Man over here. Also Max kind of sucks now, sorry Pricefield. This game makes the true ending of LiS 1 in Episode 4.
Love the Keaton guy. “Touché, fate! Touché!” I actually lol’ed.
More Dad drama. In fact two more characters have dad drama. PSA: Dad’s and potential dads - don’t mess up, or your kids will end up dead on a bathroom floor. No pressure. Faults to avoid: being homeless, being overbearing, being a cheater, and/or dying.
I’m a bit more on board with DeVries. She did pretty well here to be honest, it just doesn’t feel like her part to have. I’m jealous for Burch as i know she really put herself into the part before. I’m sure Steve Blum was excited to do more than say “target eliminated”. Kylie Brown is kind of owning the game at this point.
This really is a Chloe dating simulator!
I was harsh on Nathan, but there are limits to excuses. I like how sympathetic his downfall has been portrayed - he’s a sensitive soul crushed by teenage angst and an overbearing father. I appreciate how DeckNine is portraying him as someone that could have been redeemed, but wasn’t. OTOH, Victoria (interestingly) doesn’t get the sensitive soul treatment yet - she’s just a queen B.
It feels like the choices are actually mattering now. In Episode one perhaps too many of them were lopsided.
What do you call an origin story of future victims? Drawing from the bottomless well of teenage angst that is young adult fiction with the sensitivity and explanatory perspective of adulthood on the painful slights that set teenagers upon different life trajectories, reconstructing what is and is not established character canon projected backward, taking account community conclusions, and all while fulfilling the commercial requirements of a brand… is hella impressive. So far at least!
Enidigm, I’m not sure what your Repo Man comparison means, and I’m curious. Are we talking about the gonzo ending?
As far as our characterization of Max, a lot of fans have taken it VERY hard, like we’re dragging her through the mud. But I think there’s a very good case that this is just what we know happened, and it fits Max’s character as we know it, especially a younger Max. I also think some extra distance between them at the start of LiS1 makes their restored friendship in that game more affecting.
Oh, it’s just me getting in a Repo Man reference whenever i can.
The ending has/had to be … something with a crazy, unexpected anchor, else they would really have left and LiS 1 doesn’t happen. There’s some ironic symmetry here though; in LiS 1 basically doing anything makes things worse but here it’s the opposite and they should have left right then.
Fans have had two years of Pricefield emotionally but tbh, your Rachael Amber is far more compelling than Max (better acted, better scripted, and with better body / facial language and tech) and your Chloe is more compelling than theirs, and it’s probably hard for them to live through it. I don’t see you doing anything more than what was indicated by the “canon” of LiS 1. I think people don’t like facing up to what Max “did”, and actually experiencing that abandonment makes her look much less sympathetic now. I didn’t notice anything in BtS that made me think you are trying to disparage her directly at all; Chloe-Rachael is just a much more compelling duo. And i guess that hurts if you’re team Pricefield!
I think it’s to do with trying to tie up narrative loose ends left unfinished by the nature of how LiS 1 was developed over time - and how it’s reception by fans and the community has evolved over time and what “Life is Strange” has been received as being about. Originally there just wasn’t enough time for their relationship to be explored and here, there is time, and the contrast between them means LiS 1 just doesn’t stand up to BtS in that comparison, and doing well here makes LiS 1 look worse.
Just fyi @divedivedive, but the release date has been pushed forward to the 19th.
So now that i’ve had time to think about the game, and the last episode is about to be released, here’s my final thoughts / predictions:
You guys have done a fantastic job with BtS, though after Episode Two it’s clear i’m not… quite the target demographic ;). BtS is kind of a holiday banquet for LBGTQ gaming with a rich buffet of vignettes. The precise and careful way the writing and scenes preserve these character’s intrinsic identities despite player choices must mollify a big worry many fans expressed with the first game. Though i do find it interesting it’s that aspect of LiS that most appealed to its community and fans in the end, built on the strength of these relatable and sympathetic characters. In that vein the very existence of Elliot is hilarious as the straight “nice guy” fall guy. The setting also, finally, feels more contemporary than the first game, which as i’ve said before seemed more 80s-90s than the dates implied, at least to me.
I am disappointed with the critical response but this seems to be a strange problem with the franchise in general, and reviews from “non-traditional” sites seem to rate the franchise better. At least the Steam Reviews are Overwhelmingly Positive and is rated now even higher than the original game. Even stranger to me is why so few sites reviewed the second episode.
I have enjoyed the writing, from the precocious maturity of Rachel to the inner monologues of Chloe, and their interactions as popular girl and self conscious geek play off each other. I was moved by the whole well-done theater scene which was clearly drawing on experience, and Rachel’s explanation of the adrenaline rush of acting made sense and made me wish to have a do-over with childhood and a chance to try it out. The whole “proposal” sequence is heart-tugging if seen as a reflection of future events in LiS 1 and is surely an “iconic” moment as the kids say, and i liked that the best place for such melodrama is in the middle of a melodrama. My only regret was that it was a cut down version of the act in the play and the player wasn’t required to memorize and respond even more, just to ratchet up the tension! I also like how these natural disasters looming in the background really feel like a physical manifestation of teenage perceptions of the world, where everything happening to them is the biggest deal ever - which can be both exaggeration and actually true.
Which brings me to the possible endings:
I’m very curious about how ending of the game will come about and all that symbolism will be resolved, and whether there will be one ending or two or more, and whether they all lead inexorably to LiS 1 or have different outcomes. There are so many untied loose ends and some plot points have barely begun. Chloe’s arc of confrontation has been overcoming challenging but relatable teenage problems in Episode 1 to potentially life-changing confrontations in Episode 2, to …? I expect she’ll need to have her heroic moment with Rachel as heretofore it’s been Rachel pulling her along.
I wonder if we’ll see any further information about the supernatural ‘stuff’ going on in Arcadia Bay. Despite saying this wasn’t going to be a supernatural game, Chloe’s weird dream-prophecies, and that raven everywhere, the fire, ect. seem to be mounting evidence that more supernatural shenanigans are afoot. I’ll stick my neck out and say that i suspect Rachel won’t end up being the “fire” here. If you take the Easter Egg / Red Herring text from Max that Chloe can read during Dream Sequence 2, it can be read forward and backwards both. This seems to show that there will be two endings, one where Chloe never meets Max again in her lifetime, and the other where she meets Max again after the start of LiS. Rachel has been so sympathetically written till now i find it hard to imagine any ending that throws her under the bus. I’m interested to see how you’ve resolved all these things!