It’s about the game Life is Strange.
Somehow, in the years I’ve been a nerd, I’ve never been a comic book nerd. I read comic books when I was a kid, most kids do, and I liked Spider-Man. He talked through the action and had kid problems. My friends liked Deadpool when I was in highschool, so I was vaguely aware of the B-list superheroes of the nineties and 2000s at that time. I just never bought the books. When I was a kid and they were cheap, I didn’t have the money to blow on them. Now that I’m an adult, each one costs like $4-$5 and they provide like 20 minutes of entertainment at most. Honestly who the heck would bother.
Well me, now.
However, I picked this up as a ‘graphic novel’, which is really just a collection of a 4 book arc. It’s about 100 pages and it talks about what happens to the main characters of this video game, Life is Strange, after the events of the game. It cost me $10 for the whole book which just about puts it at a palatable level considering I am so starved for events featuring the protagonists, who are slightly, but only slightly, rounded characters, but with personality traits I see in myself and my friends,
Life is Strange is a choose-your-own-adventure type game, a genre on the upswing the last time I wrote something here, which has now, a short five years later, already reached its peak and is on the turndown. One company in particular, Telltale Games, was associated with the genre, throwing it into the mainstream with a 2012 release of The Walking Dead. They continued to release high profile games based on existing IPs like Borderlands, Game of Thrones, Minecraft, and Batman, but recently, halfway through another Walking Dead Game, they went bankrupt, effectively annihilating the choose your own adventure type game genre, as they were still the major developers.
Life is Strange was not created by Telltale, but a French developer called Dontnod, a bunch of 40 year old dudes with an obsession with Americana and what they presume life was like for teenage girls in the USA in the late 2000s.
They were weirdly correct.
While as far as I know, I was not a teenage girl, I was friends with many, especially during that time. We did so much of the same stuff the protagonists of the game did, it’s eerie to me.
For example, there’s a scene where Max and Chloe, the protagonists, had just gotten done trespassing and having fun all night, doing drugs and stuff and breaking and entering. They woke up and listened to Bright Eyes. Bright Eyes. I cannot tell you how many times that very thing occurred to me as a young adult. Here’s the highly boring scene.
Max and Chloe dodge the problems of popular girls, being caught doing drugs, getting around without a car or money, dealing with adults who don’t care about you, smashing stuff in a junkyard, and meeting up at cheap diners. All standard teenager crap, and it seems and sounds boring, except, it isn’t.
Max has been given the power to time travel, that is, change her decisions in the past to improve the story (like holding your finger on a page in a choose your own adventure story), and she and Chloe are investigating the disappearance and likely murder of a girl from the city. This gives everything they do, from talking to people in school, to breaking and entering for fun, a usefulness and a purpose in the context of the game that gives you the reasons to do them, and it plays out much like it always felt like it did in real life.
As a teenager, everything feels like it matters and it’s intense, and you just don’t realize it isn’t and that it’s all, by and large, stupid. Hence, you see the dumb stuff teenagers do and you don’t get it. By putting their actions in the context of weird time travelling murder stuff, you feel that necessity and importance in their actions that teenagers do.
Here’s a video Blackstar, Narcogen, Jillybean and I did. We played through the whole game and talked about it and why we felt it was good or bad, and what we liked.
I liked it because so many of the situations they were put in were those I myself was in, and the way they felt was the way I used to feel as a young adult. The games continue to promote that feeling within me. It feels like teens feel. It doesn’t of course, it’s the reality of being a teenager turned up to the max, but that’s the only way to make it feel right.
It’s the same reason I like Twilight, but that’s for another time.
Anyway, that perfectly constructed atmosphere is why I actually bought, with my own money, my first actual comic book. I’ve even pre-ordered the next one.