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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for the Navajo and Dinner chapters of Beyond: Two Souls

Butch:

Kids at camp! Morning was a zoo.

Anyhoo….

Finished Navajo which took two minutes. Kissed the guy, which was odd cuz I would’ve preferred the other guy, with the sheep. He was nice, and he liked me, and I smooched his brother. I finally romance a dude and I’m a bitch about it.

Did “separation.” Told the guy about what I saw, played the cia thing angry, took bunny and the picture of Aiden. Nothing else.

But here’s something: I started the very first part of the next bit. Where’d I get such a nice apartment? And why do I dig the cia guy? Anyway, she’s all pacing, and unhappy with Aiden. Aiden obviously doesn’t like the idea of her dating. She says “I get to live my life! I can have a relationship!” And Aiden says something and she says “stop reminding me what happened in the bar!”

Well, in your game, nothing happened in the bar. My game, Aiden is obviously protective of her cuz of it.

And interesting tidbit: if you fight off the attackers in the bar, as I did, the trophy you get is called “together forever.”

Hmmm.

We diverge.

Feminina:

Interesting! I didn’t kiss the guy, I just gave him a hug. I’m not really sure why, because as you know normally my approach is to romance anything that moves and has a romance option, but I guess I was roleplaying, and it didn’t feel like something my Jodie was ready for. I mean, I liked these guys and Jay was cute, but a declaration of romance to just him, when as you say, his brother was kind of nicer to me? (Though maybe the brother didn’t like me that way. Not everyone is going to like me that way.) And their father and grandmother just died, and I was leaving…I don’t know. It just didn’t feel like the right play for me.

And yeah…that apartment, wow. Being a superpowered pawn of the CIA must pay well. And I was also a bit thrown by the fact that now she’s apparently into Ryan, when last we saw she was hating his guts because he was being, objectively, a huge jerk. But I guess the intervening CIA-training montage that we got earlier softened their attitudes towards each other. I suppose time and familiarity can do that, plus he’s blandly handsome and possibly the only guy she gets to hang out with on a regular basis, but it was still an interesting juxtaposition, those two chapters. Almost like now we’re going into romance-movie territory, right?

Two physically attractive people with personality issues hate each other at first but then as they get to know each other, attraction blooms?

It’s like this game wanted to include a little of every possible story type. Horror, action, mystery, romance…

Butch:

I dunno. I wasn’t all “I love you! Cuz motorbike!” It was just a kiss. Though I did get the trophy for “Start a romance,” which made me think “Hey now….let’s not get ahead of ourselves….”

Well, there’s stuff there I didn’t see yet. So whatever. It was an interesting juxtaposition. And, after I do the chapter, I’ll ask how it played out for you cuz I’m expecting differences.

Because there’s also an interesting mirror for me: Separation was all about her being all “Don’t tell me how to live! It’s my life!” and now I have her doing that with Aiden. This intrigues me. After all, we’ve been assuming that Aiden is just really nice, and protects her from dangers. Shit, we’ve even wondered if he was just like a nice little dog who barks at the bad guys. But her conversation here made him seem like he was, at best, overprotective, and, at worse, possessive. It was also the first time that HE seemed to be the one in charge. We’re used to people saying “Use Aiden” or her telling Aiden to do stuff, but here, she’s saying TO HIM “Let me live my own life!” HE’S the one calling the shots now. For now, anyway.

Which puts Aiden in the same class as Dawkins and Cole and everyone. Possessive. Overprotective. And, in a way, taking up the slack of the people who weren’t overprotective/possessive ENOUGH. He’s citing what happened in the bar, when (my) Jody got out of the clutches of her overprotective/possessive watchers. Your Jody didn’t do that, so I wonder how that’s gonna affect things.

Nice contrast in chapters.

Romance, check. Dress ball, check. Nudity, sort of check. I’ll even go heist, check, as I robbed a grocery store.

Now everyone’s just gotta hug.

Feminina:

This is an interesting chapter in terms of her relationship with Aiden, as much or more than it is in terms of her relationship with Ryan.

You’re gonna love it.

Will we at some point discuss gender, and how almost every important person in her life, including her own “second soul,” is male? The overprotectiveness/possessiveness thing surely draws a lot on that. Is this intentional, or just another case of “game is full of men because the average person is a man?” (At least in this game it’s presumably not because women are too hard to animate.)

Butch:

Well, just finished the chapter, cuz camp, and I’m absolutely sure we got different results. Cuz you banged him, didn’t you?

I did not. But not for lack of trying.

You’re gonna have opinions on this.

You first: what happened to you?

Feminina:

You didn’t? I totally did, man.

I had Aiden back off after the first few times he tried to break things up. He locked her out of the apartment and messed up the house and stuff, but once Ryan actually got there, I was thinking, OK, as Aiden I really don’t want this, and I think this dude is kind of a jerk and I don’t trust him, but she’s right, it IS her life, and even if she’s making a huge mistake and he’s going to break her heart, it’s her decision to make if she wants to take that chance.

So I didn’t spill wine on them, or throw things around, I just kind of hung out and listened to them talk over dinner (in addition to deciding it was her mistake to make, I also kind of wanted to hear what they’d say), and then when they were on the bed I was like “OK, I’m out of here, I don’t want to see this” and booked it out of the room. This was an interesting moment…I don’t know if it would have made any difference if I’d stayed, since I’m invisible, and heaven knows I’ve watched plenty of game sex scenes, but somehow it felt kind of creepy to be watching them AS another character, in a way it doesn’t to be watching MY character as me…if that makes sense.

Anyway, later she was looking at herself in the mirror and she whispered “thank you Aiden.”

So it was a romantic moment with Ryan, but I felt it was also a–not romantic, but emotional–moment with her and Aiden. So that was a thing.

What did you do?

Butch:

Whoa, there was an actual sex scene?

Here’s what happened to me. You’re gonna have opinions.

So, weird as that gratuitous shower scene was (toweling off as a QTE. Ok. Why not?), I guess it set up the “You don’t need him, you have me” thing on the mirror. Did you get that? Cuz that isn’t so much “he’s a jerk,” so much as possessive.

(please hold on the shower scene and the lingerie bit after. More on that in a second.)

So yeah, made Asian beef, everything was ducky. I, too, left them alone and watched them at dinner. I smooched him, and got the “thank you Aiden” bit. Then, as we started going to bed, Aiden did a little WHOOSH thing, and Jody starts crying, and is all “I’m sorry. I can’t do this. There’s things I just can’t forget.” And she’s sobbing, and Ryan, gentleman that he is, doesn’t say “Hey, let’s talk, let’s hug,” he just says “I….should go….” and Jody’s there crying. Scene.

Now…….

This sort of reeks of the “Assaulted woman is damaged” idea that, well, reeks. We’ve seen a lot of “I’m different….” “No, you’re special, you’re powerful” etc. We DID see a couple times where we were all “I’m different….” and people treated her badly, like the party, but that was because of Aiden. This wasn’t. Jody couldn’t do what she wanted because she was assaulted, and Ryan got out of there once he realized she was “damaged.”

Now, ok. It was unclear if Aiden was the one doing the reminding of that incident or not. It COULD have been that this was Aiden using his last ditch method of breaking them up. But I’m not sure that’s any better. That gets into the “I saved you, and now you’re mine” deal that isn’t any less icky.

And, you wanna discuss gender, and how this game might have issues with it? This seems like a whole lot of issues with gender.

Now, like the bar scene itself, I can’t tell if it’s making us think of gender inequality, and gender tropes in narrative, and how they are wrong and we really should be treating women as powerful, or if this is really just icky, tropey ickiness.

But a scene that ends with a woman, alone, crying, not getting what she wanted because SHE WAS A VICTIM….not sure I’m ok with that, game.

Oh, and re the shower scene….

This whole ending comes AFTER we have what really is an unnecessary bit of nudity/underwear. One could say some sort of objectification. And THEN this. Shit, one could go one step further and say the WHOLE FUCKING SCENE is a parody of traditional womanlyness. Cleaning. Cooking. Being a sex object. Trope after trope after sexist trope. That ends the way it ends.

And the game MADE YOU PARTICIPATE. YOU cooked. YOU cleaned. YOU took a shower. Shit, you could CHOOSE “sexy” as a dressing option. (I admit, I did.)

So is this forcing you to confront the inherent sexism in so many game narratives/life itself? Or is it just inherent sexism?

Feminina:

Oh, dude, I was like “I don’t have time for a shower” (artificial urgency again! it really felt as if maybe if you spent too much time on things, he would show up before you were ready and everything would be RUINED), and I just wore my ordinary clothes. Plus I ordered pizza.

I was all “I’m not playing domestic goddess, if he doesn’t like the way I normally dress and eat, screw him.” Though I did pick up some, largely to correct Aiden’s petulant displays of piling the chairs on the table and so forth.

So. One could make choices that steered away from the womanliness tropes a little. But making them super tropey if you did them, that’s kind of on the game. Toweling off as a QTE is in keeping with some of the other random QTEs we’ve had in this game, but when you add partial nudity…yeah.

Plus, probably because I didn’t steam up the mirror, I didn’t get a possessive message from Aiden. Though that might also be because he was less concerned for her safety, if my Aiden never had to defend her from an attack in a bar and perhaps is less strongly distrustful of (other) men.

Interesting that even though you play a lot of this chapter as Aiden, several of these things–piling chairs, writing a message–were not choices we made, he just did them.

And very interesting that your previous success at sneaking out resulted in your being so traumatized that you rejected a (not very understanding) guy now, though. I wonder if that was based specifically on your result, where Aiden killed a bunch of people, or if the fact that she was assaulted was enough? That is, if you’d escaped and run off before the murdering, would she still feel this way, or was it partly that she was afraid Aiden would kill someone who got that close to her even if they WEREN’T attacking her? How much of the emotional damage was caused by that attack (not in any way to minimize the potential of that to cause emotional damage), and how much was caused by witnessing a bloody massacre immediately afterwards (which would also probably be pretty disturbing)?

Hm. This divergence shows off some interestingly different aspects of the Jodie-Aiden relationship. My Aiden felt, to me, mostly just jealous of the attention and concerned that he wasn’t good enough for her or was pretending to like her because he wanted to get closer to her powers, or whatever. Basically, the negative results I/he was worried about were more “failed romance” things. Maybe heartbreak, but heartbreak is a normal risk to take, you know?

Yours seems to have been concerned for her physical safety and/or the potential for her prior trauma to be stirred up, so really more serious issues than mine, legitimately based on previous experiences.

Hm. Intriguing.

Butch:

Oh, dude. Interesting that I, being a man, did all the “woman” things, and you, being a woman, were like “Fuck it. I ain’t dressing up or cooking.”

Maybe it’s cuz I stay home, and I’m always cooking. And dressing all sexy like.

That’s kinda awesome.

I cleaned up, but I must’ve missed something cuz I still got him all “Uh…it’s ok! It looks lived in!” Like, asshole, I picked up the laundry and the pizza box and the books! What more do you WANT?

You did the WHOLE shower, which took a while (though everything was very partial. Well placed hanging towels and all that. And then, after, you just kinda parade around in your underwear (flashy underwear at that), for a goodly while. For no real gameplay reason.

Well, “You don’t need him, you have me” isn’t necessarily “You don’t need him to PROTECT you, you have me.” It was very clear that she was going on a date, and he didn’t like that. It certainly read as possessive in a vaguely romantic/sexual way.

Well, remember, in time, this came WAY after the condenser, and she doesn’t seem to act like witnessing THAT bloody awfulness was what made her reject Ryan. And that was WAY worse. Shit, she was attacked then, too, by dead zombie scientists! So she’s seen all sorts of bloody, awful shit, but it was the SEXUAL violence that seems to make her distant.

Except….”You don’t need him, you have me” is like some crazy note from a stalker, or an awkward, dejected 14 year old. This never felt protective. This felt ANGRY. He wasn’t blockading the door. He was smashing mirrors and making a mess.

And…hmm.

You ordered pizza, so you didn’t get the knife thing, did you? Or did you?

If you didn’t, here’s the knife thing.

If you make the Asian beef, you have to (in QTE form) do things like, well, make Asian beef. So, at one point, you have to pick up a knife to slice up some veggies, and the knife (and this doesn’t happen from Aiden’s point of view), levitates up to Jody’s eye level, pointing right at her. It’s very threatening. There’s a long pause where you’re pretty much expecting to have to do a QTE to dodge the knife, as Jody herself looks scared, but, eventually, she just reaches out, takes it by the handle and says “Thank you Aiden.”

It’s very creepy. And it does not have a vibe of “I’m protecting you.”

It’s ALSO rather interesting as it is obviously controlled. It rises up all slow, and hovers RIGHT THERE. Usually, we only see Aiden flinging things around and smashing things. This was not like that.

And it was creepy. Not protective.

Hmm.

(One thing we should, at some point, talk on is how to judge non linear games that do potentially icky things in SOME plot lines. You didn’t get anything in this chapter that felt all gender tropey or victim blamey. I did. So, if my shit really was just lazy, sexist shit, is it ok for YOU to judge the game on that? Or do we have to/should we merely judge a game on our own experience? If there was something, say, horribly racist but on of us missed it, or BOTH of us missed it, how do we critique that? It’s very gamey. You never miss the awful thing in a book or a movie. But you can in games. Cuz, for me, my chapter was potentially rather offensive. So how does that/should that affect how you view the game?)

Maybe that’s for tomorrow. It’s late.

Feminina:

Yeah, we can come back to that tomorrow, because late, but wow, that knife thing is SUPER weird and creepy, and no, I didn’t get it.

Wow. That’s…very interesting. In some ways, this chapter was almost two different games.

Butch:

It really was. Certainly two different messages.

And it’s very interesting that the man here, me, played it in such a way as to come away thinking “Uh….that might have been kinda sexist” and you, being a woman, didn’t.

And, either way, props to the game: a lot of games, choices don’t matter a whole lot. Gotta give the game credit for making things choices matter.

And we said we’d always get to the same place.

I have complicated feelings about this game. I guess that makes it art.