Life Is Strange Can Go Way, Way Wrong

Life Is Strange Can Go Way, Way Wrong

When I finished the second episode of Life Is Strange, I put the controller down, and considered playing the episode again. I didn't want to live with the choices I'd made.

Warning: As you might expect, there are spoilers for Life Is Strange ahead!

Life Is Strange Can Go Way, Way Wrong

One of the more important subplots in the second episode involves Kate Marsh, a religious student at Blackwell Academy who's constantly being picked on. You have the option to befriend her in a variety of ways, but your choices become much more important this time around, as news spreads of a viral video involving Kate making out with a bunch of random men at a party.

You can help her out in a few ways, including erasing links to the video from the bathroom.

Life Is Strange Can Go Way, Way Wrong

You eventually have to return a book you borrowed from Kate, and it becomes obvious how traumatising the video has been for Kate. She confessed to not remembering much about what happened that night, and while the person in the video is her, she doesn't recall making those decisions. It's not like her. It seems Kate was drugged, and the player's asked to recommend what Kate should do next: talk to the police or dig up more information on what happened.

Life Is Strange Can Go Way, Way Wrong

In my story, I told her to wait. Given this is a game about mysterious, I figured being offered this option would mean I was bound to learn more. If we could find concrete proof she'd been drugged, maybe we could send that creep to jail. She reluctantly decided to follow my advice.

You spend the rest of the episode contemplating why the hell you're suddenly able to rewind time, occasionally catching a glimpse of Kate struggling to keep it together.

Life Is Strange Can Go Way, Way Wrong

Clearly, she's not doing well.

It's not long before another student leaps into your photography class and declares something's going on at the girl's dormitory. This is when you realise this episode is about to get messed up.

As you turn the corner to the dorm, it becomes crystal clear: Kate is going to commit suicide.

Life Is Strange Can Go Way, Way Wrong

Or is she?

See, that's the hook of Life Is Strange: you can rewind time. But the second episode reveals there are limits to Max's power, and she can't warp the time-space continuum without consequences to her own health. In her desperation, though, Max finds another power, and is able to freeze time before Kate walks off the rooftop ledge. When she reaches the top, though, she's exhausted. There's no more experimenting, and this conversation will be the only one.

Earlier in the episode, it's possible to poke around Kate's room and learn how her family is reacting to the viral video. As you might expect from a religious family, sexual promiscuity is not exactly encouraged, and she's being shunned by those she loves. It's why Max is so important.

Life Is Strange Can Go Way, Way Wrong

How much you remember about what you saw in that room is critical to what happens next. You need to remind Kate she's loved, and there are reasons to live. There's life after a bad viral video.

The question that really matters, though, is this one. When Kate says nobody care about her, you can remind her that's not true, and provide evidence from one of four options:

Life Is Strange Can Go Way, Way Wrong

If you choose her sisters, this is what happens.

Life Is Strange Can Go Way, Way Wrong

Kate walks off the ledge, and she's alive. That is not what happened in my game. I didn't choose that option. I chose her mother. Unfortunately, her mother hates her. Kate didn't take this well.

This is what happened in my game, instead.

Life Is Strange Can Go Way, Way Wrong

Kate commits suicide, and there's no going back. She's dead.

I nearly spit my coffee out when this happened this past weekend. I'm used to games introducing choices where the player is given agency over life and death, but it's usually a situation where you can't really fail, you're just considering one bad option over another bad option. In this case, my memory failed me, and I could have actually saved Kate's life. I didn't.

For a while, I figured this was how it was supposed to go. "A-ha, the game is giving me the illusion of choice, and you were supposed to watch Kate die, no matter what." Of course, that's not true. You can save Kate, and based on the stats displayed at the end, lots of people did.

When I vaguely remarked about this on Twitter, the responses I got were really interesting. People told me how they couldn't live with Kate's death, and actually reloaded the game.

Life Is Strange Can Go Way, Way Wrong
Life Is Strange Can Go Way, Way Wrong

I've never done what these players are suggesting, even when it's gut wrenching. I find it more interesting to cope with the consequences of your actions, even when they go completely awry. It's not often that games kill off characters, and since Kate's death is optional, it's all the more impactful. I wanted to save her, but even my super powers weren't enough. That's part of my story through Life Is Strange, and altering that with a new save game doesn't feel honest to it.

Kate Marsh is dead. I have to live with it.

[email protected] or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.


    I love this game. I saved her during my first and only playthrough, but if I had failed, man, I dunno, I think I would have replayed, which is kind of meta considering the nature of Max's powers.

    I'll add a SPOILER WARNING to my post, even though the article says it but ...

    I choose the mother and told Kate not to go to the police but was still able to save Kate at the end. I obviously got enough of the other things during the episode right - erasing the graffiti, answering her call, etc. - I just didn't pay enough attention to the things in Kate's room to know which family members to pick and I didn't think going to the police would go anywhere without evidence, given talking about Nathan having a gun at school didn't go anywhere.

    Which is good, because I'd have to play through again to make sure I did save her.

      Same, there's obviously more at work here than just that one choice.

      It was a really tense moment in an otherwise pretty casual game (that might actually contribute to making it so stressful).

      Also, having to watch Kate swan dive (twice) before you get a chance to save her added to the drama. There was no mistaking it; if you screwed up, she was going to throw herself off the building.

    @dc Have you ever felt like putting the controller down like this? Sounds heavy! I really want to play this game when I read these articles.

    I don't reload games to an earlier point to reverse choices I made, ever. I also don't necessarily always play trying to get a 'good' ending - I'm usually more thinking about what whatever character I'm playing as might do... You could say I role-play to a pretty high extent in almost any game I play.

    I feel like this often leads to much more interesting and satisfying stories than ones where I don't make any bad choices and everything goes perfectly. That feels really artificial to me. Life isn't like that.

    One example that springs to mind was intentionally choosing a "bad" ending in VTM:B because it's what I thought made sense for the character, and it ended up being something that I think stuck with me a lot better than choosing a "good" ending would have.

    In other games it's not always about role-playing necessarily. Playing on after a mission gone wrong in a game like XCOM is almost always more interesting to me than just reloading and trying the mission again, for example, or in games where the protagonist is essentially an empty vessel sometimes I'll try and do the right thing and it'll have consequences I didn't want. There's a strong emotional reaction when something like that happens - and it sounds like that's what happened in this case. I can understand people wanting to reload and try again, but to me... I dunno. It cheapens the experience for me to such an extent that I just can't do it. I'd rather live with the mistake and feel that regret. It's a much more genuine emotional response to a video game, even if it's a negative emotion, than many manage, and I think it's ultimately more fulfilling to feel that than it is to say "WELL GOOD THING I CAN JUST GET A DO-OVER!" What could be more immersion breaking or artificial than that? I've done this before, but I know for me the success on the second go around always feels so hollow anyway that I usually reload a second time and set things back the way they were the first time.

    I got everything right until the final choice with the bible reference. I thought if the game was going to ping me so majorly for getting a bible reference wrong, I was going to fucking reload the chapter.

    Yeah when I first did this, I failed with the Bible reference. I had to reload. I couldn't live with my choice. I literally felt sick.

    I wanted her to jump. Not seen a game that has done this before.

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