In my late teens, I spent a single harrowing night trying to talk a friend out of killing themselves. I spent hours talking to them before they eventually took their own life. I could not do a thing to stop them. I’ve had to live my life reassuring myself that there was nothing I could have done to change things, that no matter what I did they would have made the same decision and I was not responsible for the choice they made. I was not responsible for the family and friends who were hurt that day.

No matter how much I try to tell myself this, a part of me will always be convinced that if I could try things again, if I could go back and do things differently, if someone else were in that situation then maybe a life would not have been lost that day.

Life is Strange: Episode 2 follows the story of a girl in her late teens who has the power to go back in time and change things to her heart’s content. Episode 1 opens with the protagonist saving a life via the magic of time travel by using her knowledge of horrible events to go back and keep people safe; to find a way to undo what she had to go through. Episode 2 features a whole lot of frivolous time travel and shows you that you’re pushing yourself to the limits of your ability to use your powers.

It’s at this point that a close friend who has been struggling with her own emotional issues throughout the whole episode climbs onto a roof and prepares to commit suicide. You watch her jump and try to rewind. You don’t have enough power left to go back as far as you need to. You watch her jump again. You try and undo what she did once again. Once again you can’t quite stop her. You pause time just long enough to get up to the roof where she is, but you have no ability to rewind left if you mess up. You’re talking to a close teenage friend who wants to kill herself, and it’s clear there are no chances to take back any of your decisions here. After an episode that encouraged frivolous repeated use of my powers, in the one time I was second guessing every move I made, I no longer had a safety net.

To make a very long story short, I failed to save Kate’s life. I had to watch her throw herself from the roof one final time, knowing I could not do anything about it.

On a very personal note, I assumed at this point that her death was inevitable, a question of when rather than if. Surely a game all about being able to remake your choices wouldn’t make this the one choice you can’t get around. Either that, or most people would be in my shoes and would have missed whatever incredibly obscure clue could have lead to a way through this.

Well as it turned out, around five minutes later when I finished the episode, over two thirds of players managed to save Kate’s life.

The vast majority of people in my shoes could have saved her.

The vast majority of people in my shoes paid enough attention not to fuck things up and see her take her life.

I let Kate die and then had to face the fact that the vast majority of people could have saved her. If I had paid more attention, I could have saved her. She chose to commit suicide, but the fact she did so is something I could have prevented.

As someone who has in the past had to try and talk someone out of suicide and failed, Life is Strange: Episode 2 came across as well written, accurate and powerful. It was also an experience that made me relive one of the worst days of my life, and then rubbed my nose in the fact that most people in my shoes could have done better. Most people could have saved her. I was the one who fucked up and cost a family their child.

That’s pretty heavy subject material to have in a narrative that is shaped by the consumer and ranks you against other players and their performance. I understand putting this kind of situation into a passive medium where the consumer cannot blame themselves for the outcome of a situation, but this one just cut a little too close to home for me.

(Oh, the episode as a whole? Major pacing issues in the middle, much more consistently well written than other episodes, choices started having payoffs and new choices felt impactful. Avoided too much mystical rubbish, remained pretty grounded in reality).

About The Author

Founding Member

Laura’s gaming journey began in the 90′s when she was given a SNES by her older brother with Mario paint. From that day video games were all she thought about day or night, be it playing them, designing them, discussing them or writing about them. Why does she want to write about indie games? Because indie devs are awesome and she wants to be their new best friend by telling them how terrible their games are. That’s how it works right? Twitter: @LauraKBuzz Email: Laurak@indiehaven.com

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  • Jamie Gillespie

    This sounds horrible. Hope you have someone close to talk to today.

  • Gregor Samsa

    I experienced pretty much the same thing.. I failed to save her, which bothered me so much that i reloaded to the last checkpoint (which thankfully started at the roof again)… Making people responsible for a suicide is heavy stuff.. Even if it’s fictional. Horrible experience.

  • The PwnUltimate

    Jesus… This seems like it would be a more defensible inclusion if they didn’t rank you against other players like that, as if making split-second judgements that have an unknown-but-huge-and-potentially-distressing impact on the narrative is the same as scoring points. Given the blatant insensitivity, I’m surprised they didn’t just go all in and have an achievement pop called “KER-SPLAT” or something. Did The Walking Dead ever pull anything like this?

    I definitely agree with your sentiments on Twitter too. There should be a trigger/content warning attached to this episode, and ideally the player v. player story stats should be edited if not removed altogether. You can still patch this, Square Enix.

  • Lorenz Zahn

    Although finding the scene compelling due to very personal reasons I will not disclose here, it is… I can’t even find the words to describe how much I feel with you now. 🙁

  • Lorenz Zahn

    I just stumbled across something on the website of “Life is Strange” and want to throw it here into the discussion: http://lifeisstrange.com/talk/

    • Meggotropolis

      I thought it was cool of dontnod/square enix to include that. Very responsible.

  • Сергей Стефутин

    Dear Laura Kate!

    I watched some “let’s plays” of the second episode today, and NO ONE of the letsplayers (i watched around 5 or 6 or so) could not achieve happy conclusion. I bet that stats look that way only because most of a players were not satisfied so they simpy reload the game. When I think about probability of saving Kate, i found it a nearly imposibble that majority of the players would do it by their first attempt.

    Real life is not a game. It is not have any pre-written choice. It’s only in a game you have four options. In a real life your options is infinite.

    It’s only in a game one of the answers is always correct. In a real life every answer could be wrong.

    Please, do not push yourself to hard. This game proves nothing.

    Sorry for bad english. I’m king of russian, you see.

    With best regards, Sergey.

    • Vincent Sontohartono

      While I definitely agree that the statistic is skewed by replays, as you said, I do feel obliged to point out, that I managed to prevent Kate from killing herself on my first playthrough, without any a priori knowledge, so no walkthrough, no tips, in fact, no spoilers at all (I felt the exact kind of anxiety Laura Kate had when I found myself without my time abilities). I just happened to already be invested in the character of Kate, so a majority of my choices were biased in her favor.

      Having said that, I agree that real life is not a game, and it can never do justice to the complexities of real human life. Yes, I saved a girl in a game on my first try, but I can barely maintain a human connection in real life, So, yeah, one does not reflect the other.

      • Chris Vaughn

        I too saved her on the first try, only because I was terrified the whole game that something like that would happen to her if I didn’t pay attention to her in every way that I could, remember every scrap of information about her character. It was still heart wrenching when I saw her dive off the building the first time before the rewind. I don’t know that I like this game anymore, it is a terrible thing to place on people unexpectedly, but I cannot argue that it is a work of art and a powerful motivator to get those affected by it talking about suicide and bullying prevention. So while it hurt like hell, maybe it can help save some real people, in heightening awareness of the terrible effects of senseless cruelty in the world.

        • Torre Castle

          I also saved her on the first try though I might kill her in a rerun just to see how it affects the rest of the game not cause I’m a souless beatch. Anyway I just didn’t really like Kates situation so whenever the game gave me a chance to help her I did. I DID kill Chloe though. jk i didnt even see her die which is something else I kinda need to go back to see again for curiosities sake. ANYWAY I feel for you and how this reminded you of your past situation but I also have to say it’s GOOD that it did. It’s not often you find a game that goes to has brave lengths in it’s themes as this one

  • Natalie Gray

    I also failed to save her life. Really cathartic game, this. Thanks for sharing your story. Very moving.

    • TomRBify

      The second she was about to throw herself off, I went into the menu, selected ‘choices’ and redid it. I never got to see her throw herself of the edge.

      • Natalie Gray

        I failed twice, but managed to rescue her in the third save. So going forward, Kate is only alive in 1/3 of my game dimensions. Sad emoji.

        • TomRBify

          Spoilers!
          Make that possibly 1/6th of dimensions 😛

  • Meggotropolis

    That ending caught me off guard. I had read minor spoilers and knew that she was going to attempt suicide, plus I really felt for kate so I took every opportunity to be there for her. I DID tell her to hold off on reporting the video to the police though. I forgot about the letters from her parents and said her mother loved her, and kate jumped.

    I really didn’t expect this to be so easy to fail. I lost my dad to suicide and though it’s been a few years I still feel so broken up when suicide is mentioned. I feel like I failed poor kate. It was a small consolation that I was able to again point the finger at Nathan and he was suspended. I’m looking forward to the next episode to see Victoria’s reaction as well. It’s horrible that Kate died but I think the event may be a catalyst for change at Blackwell.

    • Sasha

      Hey, i just wanted to tell you that I’m sorry that this game reminded you of what happened. What happened to Kate wasn’t your fault. I understand that maybe it’s easy to take it that way, given the player stats in the game, and as someone mentioned, you’re right, i dont think that’s fair. I think the author(s) of the game would tell you that they dont want you to blame yourself, and are sorry if they reminded you of something in your real life. You sound like you loved your dad a lot, and I hope you never blame yourself for that, either. Its not your fault.

  • rozzingit

    It was fucking rough. I lost a brother to suicide (by the very same method of jumping, although he did so late at night all by himself where no one was around to even have a chance of talking him down), so I actually got a warning ahead of time by a friend who knew I was playing the game. It became pretty clear as soon as you talk to Kate in the episode that it was going to be a danger, though, so I would have been able to mentally prepare myself even without a trigger warning. I wasn’t able to save Kate. (I checked all the things in her room and had the knowledge, but I picked the wrong Bible verse for the specific reason of feeling like her favorite one might actually ENCOURAGE HER because of the idea of finding relief in God and maybe she would take that to mean relief in death. So it wasn’t even that I wasn’t paying attention — it was literally just making the wrong call on what my words would mean to her. I was hoping she would understand that I was working to find justice for her with the other verse, as she’d been encouraged earlier in the conversation by me saying I was gathering evidence.)

    To be honest, I thought it was pretty cruel on the player. Effective? Sure. Emotive? Absolutely. But cruel to offer this gameplay mechanic and then take it away when it mattered most, with no manual save points to rely on. I realize now the morning after that I probably could have just closed the game as soon as she started jumping and reloaded that way or something. I didn’t think about it at the time, as it was some heavy processing for me. I kind of wish I’d thought to just reload. Sure, you can’t reload in life, and that’s clearly the point the game is making, but I don’t need absolute realism in my video games all the time.

  • Sasha

    Laura Kate, I understand that you must feel really guilty. I know maybe its hard to believe, but I want you to know that this isn’t your fault. We can’t always control the actions of others. I’m sure that if you could have stopped your friend from commiting suicide, you would have, and that shows that you care, and that is what matters. You sound like a very caring person to me. I know that if I was feeling really down, and someone wasn’t able to talk me out of it, i absolutely wouldn’t blame them. I wouldn’t expect them to be able to. So please dont blame yourself.

  • *internet hug* This is why people need to treat video games as an art form that can communicate real issues. I never had an experience like yours but I had the game affect me on other issues like the anger Chloe felt post their parents death–which had happened recently in my life.