Finished episode two, had time to start episode three, forgot it had to install. Sigh.
The play was great. I loved the play. My new favorite game play. The scene with them walking home was also great (and not cuz smooching). As someone who did quite a bit of theater in my teenage years, I can say that whole “No nerves, just adrenaline” high you get is so real. The only way to make dumb, emotional teenagers dumber and more emotional is let them do a play. (Teenage cast parties? Whoo-eee.) The game let us get caught up in that, and the whole “Let’s leave” thing made some sort of sense in that after play high that the game kinda sorta gave us (and that’s praise. It’s hard to even kinda sorta give you a post play high in a game).
The scene with the family was great, too. I was so nervous of saying the wrong thing. I didn’t even fast talk dad there. I was the picture of politeness. Didn’t even talk to dad about anything.
But then there was the twist, and I did not like the twist.
There’s two kinds of good twists. The first, is the whole “build up to the twist” twist. You do all sorts of stuff, you think you’re doing the right thing, things slowly dawn on you until KABOOM! LiS1, episode three did this so well. Save dad! Go back in time! Have the montage of polaroids! You did it! You saved dad! Then “Wait, why am I in the vortex club? Why is Victoria my friend? Where’s Chloe? Go see Chloe….big pull back, Chloe all ‘Max…[mechanical breath]…hi.'”
Second, the “very suddenly pull the rug out and make the player/watcher go ‘EVERYTHING IS NOT HOW I THOUGHT!'” twist. This I will also call the Lost twist, as it is embodied by Jack screaming “We have to go back!” at the end of Season three of Lost, which you haven’t seen but trust me.
This twist? None of the above. Sure, it felt like we were building towards something with the slow, calm, setting the table stuff. But the “That chick I was kissing wasn’t a chick I was kissing….she was a chick I had YOU WITH!” was weird.
My whole reaction was “Uh…………ok?” First, how does that end the argument? That makes the fact he’s smooching her worse! But second, and more importantly, twists either change the story arc or make you think the arc you’ve been on is something else entirely. This does neither. It doesn’t make you say “Leaving with Rachel is BAD! BAD, I SAY!” It just confirms the Ambers are fucked up and Dad is an asshole. This is not a twist.
Indeed, I think the creepy assed image we got at the end of the episode was during the montage, when poor, innocent, shy Samantha had stayed to be the last person at the show to clap for Nathan in that cute, shy, innocent “I like this boy” teenage way that we know is going to get her killed. THAT was a creepy thing to end an episode on. Not the actual twist.
It wasn’t even about Chloe! Twists should affect the main character (see Lost) or be a result of the main character’s actions (See LiS1). This, Chloe was watching! What’s with that?
Great session. Until the very end.
Yeah, I wasn’t sure how I felt about that twist either. It was a sort of “OK…..?” moment.
Like, all right, game, that’s unexpected I grant you, and yet…?”
But the rest of the episode was good. The play was awesome, the planning to run away, the kissing, the awkward dinner with the parents. Good stuff.
And yeah, dude, poor shy Samantha shyly applauding Nathan…THAT was creepy and awful. Mr. Amber, he just seems like a jerk.
Very creepy and awful.
And a very “OK…….?” moment.
I mean, the game is not about Rachel’s family, it’s about Chloe and Rachel, so anything that happens that’s big should be something that affects Chloe and Rachel, and this just doesn’t. At least not obviously.
As for creepy Nathan, I do like that they took time to make him into a “made” monster. In LiS1, you got a sense he was just this sadistic rich asshole who was so rich and powerful he was used to treating everything and everyone like a toy, a born sociopath with money. I thought what they did with him in the play added a ton of depth. Here he was, caring that they were off script, really wanting the play to be good, trying his best as the slave, and getting jeered just because he was him, an artsy weirdo. His sneered “fuck you” to the crowd wasn’t that of a born sociopath, it was one of someone who tried very hard to be himself, wasn’t allowed to and snapped. Shit, I even got the sense that that was the moment he snapped and poor, shy Samantha was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Makes him more interesting than just “evil rich kid is evil” like he was before. Nicely done.
Yeah, I did find that interesting about Nathan. He’s a spoiled rich kid here, just as he was later in LiS1, but he’s not yet a total monster: he had moments where maybe he could have turned toward being less creepy and horrible, but the moment was lost.
Which…it’s not really an EXCUSE for him, right? It’s not like it was anyone else’s responsibility to make sure he had the perfect experience in the play and didn’t become a monster. Plenty of people have unfortunate experiences on stage and don’t become monsters. It’s still on him that what he made out of that experience was “it’s worthless to try to express myself artistically so I’ll do it through murder instead” or whatever he concluded.
Like…it’s not really up to everyone else in the world to placate potentially horrible people and make sure they don’t become horrible. It’s up to people to not be horrible. We’re all responsible for ourselves that way.
Still, that fact that he did different things, he tried sports, he tried acting, presumably before he turned to murder, that says something about him as a person. We’re not really sure what, I don’t think, we don’t know him that well and honestly I’m not sure I want to, but it’s slightly more complex than “this dude was a bad seed from the beginning and that’s all.”
Well, yes. I’m not saying “Good for him that nice Samantha showed up to be killed and make him feel better!” He’s still a monster. But in 1 we thought all his “art” was just sicko porn or something. Here, he really WAS an artist who was mocked by, well, everyone.
It also goes to something I’ve been pondering here a while…..there’s some implication in this game and the first game that Arcadia Bay brought all this upon itself, that its hypocrisy and greed and vanity damned it in some way. Had people been kind to Nathan, he wouldn’t have turned evil. If people hadn’t been so obsessed with getting the edgy, impressive teacher, they wouldn’t have gotten Mr. Jefferson. The entire fire is a result of this respected dude being a liar and a hypocrite.
Even in the first game, the real choice was let Chloe die and let the vanity and sin of the town continue or let the town be destroyed because MAX TRIED TO MAKE WRONGS RIGHT. It gets destroyed by Max’s attempts at righteousness, because the storm is because she used her powers.
There’s this theme of “yes, Nathan is bad, Mr. Jefferson is bad, fire is bad, storm is bad, but, you know? It could’ve all been helped if Arcadia Bay and Blackwell hadn’t been so fucking awful to the core.”
That’s true…that’s true. But at the same time, Arcadia Bay is not uniquely awful. It’s full of people who are awful in the same ways that people are awful everywhere. I mean, most people, I trust, don’t become serial killers, that’s a big one, but the lying, the hypocrisy, the desire for accolades and applause…these are all very common sins, and that’s where we are right now.
If Arcadia Bay deserves to be punished for this, then every human settlement in the history of the world probably does as well.
Is THAT the message?
Hey, maybe. These games do not have a very upbeat view of “society” in any way. The most likeable places have been ones that are either temporary (the camp in LiS2), off the grid (Away), irrational dreams of wandering or, even within society, niches that are for relative misfits. We’re supposed to want to stay in Away. We liked Away. I bet we both picked “Infinite Road trip” when Rachel asked what to do (I did). Chloe and Max’s eventual happy place was the Bohemian art scene, which is hardly stuck up suburbia.
So maybe not ALL societies, but certainly mainstream, stuck up, American suburban ones.
Hm. Yeah…I guess. I mean, the hippie commune was hardly immune to jealousy and conniving and people behaving badly, but yeah, maybe the idea is that it’s closer to that than ordinary boring “normal” human society.
That’s not a message I find entirely compelling, because…I mean, society is just people. A big society is just a lot of people. A tiny ‘free’ society is not very many people. But people are people, and if your problem is people, you’re going to get those problems anywhere.
I mean, if it’s a larger point about how wealth and power corrupt, and that helped Nathan grow into an entitled bastard who felt like it was his right to murder girls, and this shows that the unequal distribution of resources is a fundamental problem with capitalist societies in particular, or something, then yeah, I’m here for that conversation, but that feels like a reach. Which maybe just goes back to your point that it’s weird that scene was here in this game that is about Chloe and Rachel and not about Nathan.
Well, I’m not saying I agree with the message. I, myself, choose to live in stuck up suburbia and I don’t know any serial killers (that I know of) and I certainly don’t think I deserve to be consumed by fire and magical storms. Still, it sure seems that the game disagrees.
Shit, even in LiS2, Claire and Steven are part of that suburban Americana, but they’re actively trying to protect Sean and Daniel from it. If you compare our endings, your Sean went to prison, but my Daniel ended in a house in that suburbia, with a tracking anklet, trapped, as it were, in that suburban place that was trying to actually imprison him throughout episode two. He wasn’t a PART of it, he wasn’t accepted by it, he was trapped. Imprisoned, just like your Sean (mostly, kinda).
These are not positive images of what Americana is.
We talked some about how LiS1 and 2 were made by a French company, but this one, made by Deck Nine, was made right here in the good ol’ US of A, which is an interesting twist. Or not, as I think they’re going for the same metaphor.
Not that I agree with it.
Well…”people suck” is certainly a sentiment I have a hard time arguing with sometimes.
I mean, just in general, as a species: we’re gullible, and greedy, and lazy, and self-absorbed, and bad-tempered, and we want to be praised but don’t care enough about other people to be nice and praise them, and we drink too much.
Present company excepted, of course. We drink exactly enough.
But that being so–and we had some discussion with LiS2, as to whether “people are complicated and they suck and also don’t suck” was a meaninglessly trite thing to be saying–that being so, and Rachel and Chloe both being people, who have, as we’ve mentioned, done some kind of crappy things recently themselves, maybe it’s just saying that people are people, and yeah, we suck, but also we sometimes don’t suck.
And that’s STILL a message that risks being meaningless and trite, but…it’s kind of what I’ve got right now. Because you KNOW it’s not saying “Rachel and Chloe off on their own together would be a pure and magnificent example of humanity at its best and most self-actualized.”
Because they’d obviously be a mess! They’re 15 years old and have no way to take care of themselves! They’d be robbing people on the streets and thrown into juvie within days! It’s a terrible idea!
I mean, it’s a lovely idea, it makes sense for them because they’re 15 years old and high on performance and falling in love, but it’s objectively terrible, and I don’t think the game means us to not realize this. We’re not supposed to not notice that Rachel and Chloe are doing bad things. We know this is part of the complicated mess of their story.
And so…people suck. And society is awful. And also sometimes people don’t suck. We all do what we can with that.
I don’t know. Not very deep, but then, there’s a plague on. Maybe this is the level of analysis I can handle right now.
We don’t drink enough.
But I’ll counter with a blast from the past: Gone Home. That game actually did end with two young lovers running off together, and we both thought that was a happy ending. Shit, destruction of Arcadia Bay aside, I think we got the happy ending in LiS1, and that was Chloe, like, what, a year or two older? With…what new prospects? She’s still a high school dropout and Max is a starry-eyed teenager who thinks she can take New York by storm (like Rachel) with nothing but her polaroid camera and ability to bend time and space.
If LiS1 and Gone Home (and, to me, LiS2, which ended with a teenage Sean going off with no prospects, no job, to a different country while wanted for capital murder) all ended happily, or, at the very least, had endings where we were all “You GO main character,” then why aren’t we rooting for Rachel and Chloe? Why am I sad that I know their pipe dream won’t happen?
Aren’t you sad?
I mean, I’d argue the ability to bend time and space is a bit of an ace in the hole, but it’s true that in terms of actual normal life skills, neither of them has a whole lot on the resume.
And yes, it’s true–I am sad! I was rooting for them to just leave, right then, that night! Even though it’s objectively a terrible idea AND I knew they wouldn’t because LiS1 came after. Because young love!
I think maybe the thing is, that IS a happy ending. Because it’s an ending.
Because we don’t have to follow up on all the annoying logistical details of two girls making their own way in the world at 15. When we catch up with them 10 years later after a nice montage and they own a garage in Mexico, or whatever, that’s great.
I mean, it would also be a perfectly good beginning, because it could be followed by a lot of adventures. That would work. But it’s a terrible middle. Maybe that’s why I just can’t get behind it. It’s not a good middle of a game.
Hmm…..I see what you’re saying. I’ll reserve judgment until I get to the actual end.
Hey, her bending of time and space got her exactly bupkus in the first one. Except, you know, saving the life of her best friend and true love. Financially? Not a good career plan.
No, there was that moment in Wells’ office, where she could have taken the big envelope full of cash!
I forget what the envelope of cash was about, but I remember it was there. A collection for stranded sea life or something? It was some kind of good cause, I think, and I feel like I didn’t take it because I was too moral, but it was an option. An option Max might choose to take if it really came down to it.