Hey, remember Steph? No? It took me a little while to remember her as well.
I didn’t mention her in my initial write-up of LIFE IS STRANGE since she’s a very ancillary character. Hell, I didn’t even think of her being a callback character while I was playing TRUE COLORS and I was actively trying to romance her.
So much of the LIFE IS STRANGE series is about pretend and role-playing and escapism due to the trauma of reality, so it makes sense that they’d have a character who was fascinated with all of that, even if they existed on the out-skirts, and this bonus episode is all about that!
If you aren’t familiar with Steph, she’s a very queer Dungeons & Dragons role-player who will lead you through a game she penned. That’s it, that’s her only role in the first game. She usually plays with her best friend Mikey, but is always eager to share with others.
One of my favorite things about LIFE IS STRANGE is that it’s absolutely gender neutral. Everyone loves what they love, and when you see the spark in their eyes when they’re conveying why they love it, you want to love it too. That’s the best thing a game can do; to transmit their love for gameplay and their audience.
However, there’s always a downside: one of the very stupid things I have said to my therapist is: “Danger always finds me,” because it has. So I couldn’t help but wince when Mikey tells Steph “Adventure will always find you.” because I’m like “There’s a terrible side to that! And these games are completely all about that! That is not a comforting thought!”
But I digress. This is a perfect coda to the Arcadia Bay games, and it’s particularly poignant. LIFE IS STRANGE has always been exceptional with their scores and soundtracks — they’re brilliantly evocative and melancholy — and to shape one entire episode around serving up music is inspired, as WAVELENGTHS sees Steph as a local DJ, living her best life, but also realizing that it’s a transitional one.
We follow her through four seasons of a year, solely through her work and we watch her become more comfortable with her job. It also dovetails with the empathic emotions of TRUE COLORS as people reach out to her over-the-phone and she learns how to placate them.
It’s a fantastic little slice of life, one that more game developers should learn from.
“I am not alone in the universe!”