Open Forum: Safe Space to Discuss ‘Life Is Strange,’ Episode 5

Life Is Strange

Hey there, friends! It’s with a heavy heart that Paige and I just finished playing the final episode of Life Is Strange. As it was released today to much fanfare, we thought it might be a good idea to provide another open forum for you, our community, to discuss your feelings on “Polarized.” This post will act as a safe, moderated environment where you can share your initial impressions of the game with fellow fans. We’re still processing Episode 5 for ourselves (the playthrough will be available on #FemHypeYT soon), but that doesn’t mean we can’t chat about it in the meantime!

As always, we only have a few rules going forward:

  1. No inflammatory language (ableism, misogyny, -phobia of any kind, etc).
  2. Be patient if your comment hasn’t been approved yet! You only need one moderated approval and then your comments should appear automatically thereafter.
  3. We reserve the right to add further rules if necessary. Should you feel uncomfortable or have any questions for us, don’t hesitate to email FemHypeBiz@gmail.com.

Here be spoilers! Peek into the comments below at your own risk, and make sure you check in with yourself after completing Life Is Strange. It was a very difficult episode to play, and we hope that you’re somewhere comfortable with a cup of tea right now. 💕

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20 Comments on “Open Forum: Safe Space to Discuss ‘Life Is Strange,’ Episode 5

  1. I don’t usually like jumping into our open forum posts right away—I’d prefer to maintain this space for YOU, the crew, and not for my own ranting. With that in mind, I’m going to keep my comment short. (Note that I literally JUST finished playing “Polarized,” and I’m a bit of a mess right now. Haven’t processed it all yet.)

    The thing that’s really sticking with me, though, was the ending. Paige and I played through both choices, and though I’m nowhere NEAR surprised that LiS went the Bury Your Gays route (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BuryYourGays), it was reinforced when you chose to sacrifice Chloe because you got “rewarded” with a kiss by doing that. Good job, you chose to kill her—we’ll reward you with a kiss + absolute confirmation that they were romantically interested in each other (they say “I’ll always love you” or something). Note that if you choose to sacrifice the town, you get neither of those things.

    I’m just so tired, you know? Like. I never expect to see myself represented in games, let alone for that character to live through it. Ugh. Cute gif time: https://31.media.tumblr.com/a0540276aa10612e4e59cd9da9fc00cb/tumblr_inline_nwjcqmynAF1ql1e1m_500.gif

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe I’m being too easy to please, but I never felt like I needed absolute confirmation, because it was so clear to me for all the episodes… I absolutely get the frustration though. It reminds me of the end of Legend of Korra, where people thought hand holding wasn’t clear enough, but for me, having shipped it for 4 books, my Korrasami goggles made it very clear!
      Anyway, back to LIS! While the death and destruction thats happening when you choose to save Chloe and let the town be destroyed doesn’t feel like the right time for kisses, the driving off into the sunset scene felt very much like a “stepping through the spirit portal” at the start of a new romantic relationship thing.
      There *is* however one moment when I would have liked a kiss/something, comparable to your possible choice to kiss warren. At the beach, before the nightmare sequence, I really feel like an ‘I love you’ or a kiss scene would be super great there!

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s funny you mentioned LoK, because that was something that frustrated me in a similar way. And it’s totally fine if that representation is enough for you! But for me personally, ambiguous endings like that hurt me very deeply. Pop culture is full to the very brim with confirmed heterosexual couples—just once I wanted this to be absolutely irrefutable, not something I had to choose the Bury Your Gays trope in order to finally have. That was a very clear message to me: what you are is wrong, shameful, and should stop happening.

        Now, I should preface all that with the fact that I don’t think the developers were sinister in any way and purposefully framed the narrative to convey this. I just think it’s so ingrained in our collective conscience that hardly anyone questions it anymore. But if we don’t question it, it’ll never change.

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      • I, like Jillian, am particularly struck by the fact that both endings don’t include a kiss (or some sign of interest). COME ON! Max just sacrificed a whole town for Chloe; that seems pretty romantic to me.

        I’m mainly looking for other ideas about why Dontnod made this choice, but I would also like to talk about the game in general. I’m not going to lie, it made me sad to the point that I started questioning what the point of life even is if we can’t save everyone. It made me feel powerless in a very beautiful kind of way (if that makes any sense), but it has been on my mind for the majority of my day. I can’t seem to shake this realization that…wait for it….Life is strange. No matter how we spend our lives, this game showed me that our choices will inevitably cause those around us to suffer. If we are really alone, what is the point of living at all? I don’t think I am considering doing anything harmful to myself, but this game does have me thinking about really unusual and dark ideas.

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    • Oh man I only finished one of my play-throughs and it was the one where I was trying to be more romantic toward Chloe. I chose to let Max destroy Arcadia Bay and run off to Portland to start a artsy coffee shop with Chloe Price. In my head that’s what they’re doing. While it does suck that they don’t actually kiss if you choose this option they still display enough affection to where it’s clear they have feelings for each-other which melted my cynical heart.

      In the choice list at the end it shows whether or not you chose to save people during the storm portion in the middle but ultimately none of those choices seem to really matter unless somehow Max’s rewind power malfunction created pockets of time throughout the town where those realities existed inside the one you end up in later in the game.

      By that reasoning technically everyone she saved should be okay, maybe? I would have liked a little more closure on that. Not that I mind that they get to finally be together but at the end they are basically like “Is everybody dead? Yes? No? OK bye!”

      Up until this point every single set piece has served a significant purpose in the story that later effects the outcome of the entire episode. If there’s absolutely no way to save the people at the diner if you choose not to sacrifice Chloe then why did we have the option at all?

      I’ll play my second save later this week to see the alternate ending.

      Like

    • The first time through I sacrificed the town and felt very uncomfortable with how queerbaity the ending felt. I’ve finally felt ready to play through the second ending, and seeing them kiss there puts the other ending into more context for me, as it kinda confirms their relationship, but watching a town die isn’t the right time for that. I still feel your point about bury your gays is very apt though, and they could have confirmed the relationship in another way then.

      Someone else mentioned the beach scene just before the end, and I was literally shouting “kiss her!” at my screen during that scene. I can see why the developers might have felt that putting in that option there (as they did with Warren) might have biased people too much in the final choice, but I still think they should have given us the option.

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    • Yeah the “Burn the Gays” implications of the Save the bay ending is pretty harsh. I think it goes beyond the option of the kiss. What really upset me was the following scenes seem to harshly punish both Max and Chloe for the crime of caring for each other to save Arcadia Bay. Chloe never got those good memories with Max and died alone and angry in the bathroom. As for Max, we see through the nightmare she has accumulated a ton of guilt and trauma from her time travel experience, to the point of a total breakdown. I can’t imagine seeing her friend die next to her and have to do nothing will not affect her mental state negatively. Sadly since none of the events of the past week happened, she can’t talk to anyone about her struggles without it being seen as a complete break with reality. She will be alone with her pain and grief, and that is incredibly sad.

      At least in the ending where you save Chloe they have each other for support.

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  2. maybe its dependent on choices, but at least in my savegame, im happy warren x max wasnt a big deal (the 8% who didnt show affection to warren, yay). it seemed to me like the warren and max thing was put in because else it would have been ‘too much gayness’ and not approved of or something.. like the movies who put in this heterosexual romance subplot that doesnt add something to the real plot (and in movies, only serves for the sexual scenes). but i was happy after max’ talk about warren that she’s not interested in him, that they didnt force me to go that route – i was scared the kiss of chloe is all i get and then they make me end up with warren anyway no matter what i do. i mean, i still find it disturbing that the player can “make max do it against her will” (sounds unfitting for a game character, but you know what i mean) but at least it was a choice. i found the character development to be extremely well handled, i especially liked chloes development. i hope this soothes the chloe criticism a little. i’m also not ashamed that i sacrificed an entire town, all of my friends and chloes house and family just for a gay romance i’ll never see.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There is still a lot of lingering questions in my mind as I think back on the experience that was Life is Strange, as a whole. For one, it was clear from the very beginning that Chloe was going to end up dying. However, given the hype and publicity of the game, where “all your choices matter” and “these decisions affect your gameplay down the track”, I was sorely disappointed that the ending where we could save her, had to be at the cost of saving everyone else. It felt like the carefulness and thoughtful process I and many others took in choosing certain options, went out the window. Nothing you did really, mattered that much in the end. Why did Max get her powers if she then can’t change anything with them? Was the whole purpose of the game to “teach” players that not only is life strange but also cruel?

    Yeah, thanks for the pessimism, game developers. Because we don’t have nearly every other piece of fiction out there beset with this message already, especially in regards to lgbt stories.

    That on top of the other, more subtle but nonetheless obvious message that queer couples can’t be happy unless there is some tragedy befalling them or their loved ones, left me disappointed and numb. Why can’t we have fiction where the queer couple is happy, their friends and family are happy, and nobody has to die? Why repeat this tired trope, this overworn sock of a joke of plot device, when what the world needs more of, is positive representation of queer stories? It is especially tiring to experience this when you’re so hungry for representation.

    Sure, the game isn’t badly written. And just because a story has sad outcomes, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. I still enjoyed the episodes. I just would have liked my choices to have truly mattered, to have changed things so that as many characters as possible could have been saved AND had Chloe and Max ride off into the sunset together. Let Chloe have her character development and growth without having to sacrifice her.

    At least, let it have been an option, one of the outcomes that had been available. Let the story have been about more than just hopelessness, cruelty, and loss.

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  4. Okay, let me get this out of the way first, so I can get to what I really want to talk about after the break.

    I was actually really surprised to hear that people felt the “Save Chloe” ending didn’t give their relationship closure. I felt their love was pretty obvious for a very long time, and that Max making such a decision was the number-one thing that cemented it. Both my girlfriend and I came to the same conclusion on our own, so I was puzzled to see people think that this ending invalidated their relationship.

    Now, I can understand that it is frustrating to have characters that the developers stated many times are in love not say so in a very explicit way in the climax of the game, especially considering the context of the other ending. But, think about it – the only way that it would make sense for Max to make that decision in the first place would be if she really did love Chloe deeply. I didn’t feel like that needed spelling out in the final moments, especially given the catastrophic situation.

    Also, for those asking why they kissed in the ending where Chloe dies, and not in the ending where she lives, I would argue that they kissed at that moment in the former ending because they knew they would never see each other again. It didn’t matter if the world was ending, because in a few seconds, it wouldn’t be. If they did that in the latter ending, it really wouldn’t feel appropriate given all the death and destruction around them. Now, why they didn’t kiss later or something… that’s actually a fair criticism.

    It seemed pretty obvious that they were in love and about to go live the rest of their lives together, choosing their love above all else, but the burden of their choice still weighing heavy enough on their hearts that they need time to settle. What else could have prompted that action? While I feel that nothing more needed to be said, it seems that a lot of people didn’t feel the same, and given the circumstances, I can at least see where they were coming from – having explicit confirmation would have been nice, but this is one case in which I feel that not only has there been enough evidence of their love prior, as well as official confirmation, but also that a quiet acceptance and moving on was the best way to handle the ending with the given pacing.

    ———————————-PrimaryTopic Time————————————-

    What I do want to talk about is how this game taught me something about myself – something no other game has really been able to do in such a way. I used to adhere to the “Do the Least Harm” principle of dealing with the gray areas of morality. I felt that it was the right thing to do, and the most responsible choice. It was logically sound, and seemed the best course of action. Heck, it probably IS the best course of action, all things considered. That’s what makes this all so scary.

    But, as I got to this final decision in Polarized, I felt conflicted. I had to walk away from my computer and really think. Was it really worth saving the town that I never had any strong attachment to if it meant losing the one beacon of love and hope I had in years? I know that all those lives would be on my hands – the prior scene at the Two Whales made sure I felt the full brunt of that burden – but, was it worth it?

    After a long while thinking, I made up my mind. I concluded that human connections are what make life worth living. They enrich our lives, and allow us to do things that we could never do on our own. They empower us, build us up, and allow us to keep moving forward. Without that, what is the point?

    Call me selfish – I can own up to that. Call me irresponsible – that’s probably true. But I am prepared to live with my decisions, and I chose to value my most treasured connections above all else. I will bear the burden of having blood on my hands, but given what I kept, that’s a price I am willing to pay.

    Stand up and take action. Live with your choices. Love, no matter what.

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    • Hi, i need to tell you, although i have never replied to any comment or opnion before, mostly because i can’t express myself well enough, after readiang your post i know that i couldn’t agree or respect you more. I also chose the save Chloe at the end, and even though i felt it inside i couln’t put it into words why i did it. Your comment matched every single one of my thoughts, and that helped me explain everything to my friends. So thank you and gratz on the nice writing 🙂

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    • I was blown away by your articulation of this idea. I personally agree with your thinking, but was I the only one that thought that Dontnod was steering us towards sacrificing Chloe? In the nightmare, you relive all of your good experiences with Chloe in a way that seems like a person’s life flashes in front of their eyes before they die. Also, I don’t know if you saw both endings, but sacrificing Chloe leads to a much more developed and interesting conclusion. What do you think?

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    • I definitely understand a,d respect this line of thinking, and definitely wanted very very very very very much for Chloe and Max to have a happy ending and to be together. I love their love more than I can express and I can’t even describe my exrtreme feelings of anguish when I chose the sacrifice Chloe ending. But the way I saw it, I had to choose this ending because it was how it was supposed to be. It was so early Chloe’s destiny to die, and I was the one responsible for saving her and messing with time over and over to cause the death of everyone in Arcadia Bay. While I wanted nothing more than for Max and Chloe to be together, I knew that I could not let every person die just to save the person that I loved from dying, especially knowing that she wasn’t meant to be alive anyway.

      Like I said, the choice of this ending caused me extreme anguish and I have yet to fully cope with the feelings that it gave me, but I could not change things around from how they were meant to be and let others lose all of their opportunities to feel the love that Max and Chloe felt. I know that Max and Chloe will be back together one day. This, and the fact that no one else has to die are my only comforts.

      Pricefield
      ————-
      4 EVER

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  5. Honestly? I was disappointed with the save Chloe ending. It seemed to be played out as the “bad” choice for me, there’s no sense of hope like in the ending where Chloe dies and you see the butterfly, it was much shorter than the saving the town ending, and there’s just no real closure such as when you see the kiss– it just seems really forced? They don’t bother looking for any survivors or anything and I just thought it fell flat.

    The ambiguous ending just didn’t do it for me, though it honestly should’ve been expected considering the amount of times DONTNOD have pulled the “It’s up to your interpretation!!!” card when it comes to f/f relationships (such as the alt timeline victoria/max they used it on), whilst still romanticizing Warren and Max. To put it in Caulfield’s own words: Ew.

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  6. I’m really interested and encouarged by how 48 hours after release fans are already creating alternate endings. There’s a couple that just drop the kiss into the “save Chloe” ending.

    And then someone else has gone way further than that and mashed up things from earlier episodes to create a longer ending:

    I love this stuff. If you have the privileges of access to technology and enough free time, there’s no limit to the ways people can prove a point to producers who promise and tease but fail to deliver.

    Like

  7. Maybe it’s because of what was going on in my life when I started playing Life Is Strange (and to a lesser extent, how those events affected me over the course of each episode’s release), but I found the bleakness and futility of the game, especially its ending, to be immensely cathartic. I started playing Episode 1 and 2 back in March, within a week or so of my grandma dying of pancreatic cancer. It’s hard to overstate the positive role that she played in my life; suffice it to say that her influence as well as her absence will be felt for the rest of it.

    So by the end of Episode 2, after watching Chloe face death yet again if not for my/Max’s intervention, it became quite clear to me that this game was about accepting the inevitable. I had already been through this. A pancreatic cancer diagnosis is a death sentence and over the course of three months, my grandma went from the healthy, vibrant person that I had known my entire life to being gone forever. Three months isn’t a very long time for that transition to occur, but it is a long time to be carrying around that worry in the pit of your stomach, knowing that the only way that things are going to get better is after they get worse.

    LIS touched on just about every emotion that I had been working through in the months that preceded my playthrough: the subtle sadness of “you can’t go home again”, the longing for old friends and family and the comfort of the familiar, obsessing over how things could have been different or what you should have said, the breakdown into raw emotion and the trauma, and finally, the decision to let it all go.

    It was a potent bit of serendipity that I share my first name with the character that Dontnod chose to be their representation of tragedy, childhood, and the frustrations of the past, among other things (“Sacrifice Chloe”, “Thanks for killing Chloe.”). Ultimately, I made the decision to sacrifice her. To me, Max was quite plainly bisexual and while I, personally, wanted her to ultimately pursue a more romantic relationship with Warren (really, I imagine that she’s too pragmatic to concern herself with crushes until the work of helping people is done), I chose not to romance Chloe for other reasons. Mainly, I thought it would take away from Chloe’s relationship with Rachel Amber. Similarly, in the end, I decided to sacrifice Chloe because of how the decision was framed in regards to her story line. Chloe had lived a tragic life lacking in agency, with the loss of her dad and now, Rachel Amber. As she pleaded with me not to let her mom die in a diner, I realized that this was my chance to finally grant her some agency in her own life, something that I had been desperately wanting for myself for the better part of a year. I did it for both of us.

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  8. Hello,
    I was disappointed in the ending. It didn’t make sense why Max could stop the storm but not prevent Chloe’s death. I also don’t agree with the “outsider” Max view on Max’ use of powers. The game mechanics made it seem as though it was either Chloe or everyone else. You don’t lose a friend just because you answered another friend’s phone call. You don’t lose a friend or a partner just because you decided to hang out with another friend just one time. Death and loss are some of the things we’re still trying to figure out in life but the way in which both subjects were tackled was inaccurate and extreme. The cruelest thing about it all that all Max wanted was to be with Chloe, help Chloe, save Chloe. And none of it is that much of a deal, really. Max didn’t use her powers to help Chloe and only Chloe. She helped Victoria at the end and the latter was a bully. I don’t think it was responsible for Dontnod to cram this give and take and lose and win in a story where the heroine is doing nothing but good. This is very discouraging and dark. It was for me.

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  9. Polarized was so very, very hard to play for me. I know there were so many hard, tough, real issues touched on in all the other episodes. I was so angry with the creepy over the top Jefferson comments. “Oh max. . . . ” as you are focusing on the photo, I actually had bile rise in my throat. I was so angry that I let David kill Jefferson (multiple times). Even though after I wept for David because he already has PTSD and is dealing with so much. I hurt so much during this episode.

    During the “dream/nightmare” whatever-the-eff that was with every single thing Max had done getting thrown into her face. The birds dying while you are in the classroom painting the windows read with their blood. Being forced to say something disgusting to appease Jefferson in said nightmare state? Having to watch Chloe (who Max obviously loves) being with everyone else in game. I just hated it all. I had to pause so often.

    The sneaking bit where everyone including Warren and Samuel are being awful and creepy?? It was too real and too awful.

    I never once showed Warren any affection in game, I made sure Brooke and him went to the drive-in together. It was so annoying that even at the end of the game “Kiss” / “Hug”. . . NO! Max is not hetero, Max loves Chloe. . . UGH!!

    The ending was super disappointing for me. I absolutely chose “gay over bay” as Adam Koebel said in his playthrough. I had to destroy the bay because the last episode made me so angry I wanted to get “back” at the game. The head-cannon is the only thing keeping me happy about the ending. Max and Chloe, leaving this weird, creepy, possibly cultish run town in the dust, literally. It seemed like the town was just evil and I didn’t do all that work over 5 episodes saving the woman I love over and over and over, not to finally “win” in the end.

    Max and Chloe are happy now somewhere else in Oregon or maybe they moved up to Seattle together. I also think in that magical realism kind of way that the storm was Rachel’s revenge, our revenge. I had to let Rachel have that. . . I hope the spirit doe (Rachel?) will hangout with Max and Chloe forever.

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  10. alright lets make it clear
    u save bay : u live with the death of someone u play the game for and try all of this for nothing!
    u save chloe :u will be a mass murderer in some other way since u cuzed the storm!
    some of us think of different endings in mind hell i even wrote 1 myself , is there anyway to share fans ideas with LiS writers or director or who ever so maybe they consider it ,or even like it for maybe new game series a rewrite or some extra episode?!

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  11. Oh wow, just finished the game, I can honestly say, thats the best game I have ever played. I wad on Chloes side all the way, I actually panicked wen I thought she would indefinitely die, wen I was given the choice to save her, I was on it lol. I really loved Chloe, I fell in love with her character straight away (Bad girl) haha. They need to make a number 2 and put Max and Chloe in it. I’m gonna play the game again, but only change some choices, but still she’s getting with Chloe lol

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