Captain Spirit (Life is Strange 2 Prologue?)

I loved DONTNOD’s Life is Strange 2 prologue? (Question mark because at first, they said it was something like a demo but, playing it seems like something more like the first chapter [I’ll probably remove this when I’ve started the main game and find out where this fits in.]) It really did a lot to put me back in the shoes of being a kid and long for a bit of the old days, when my brother, my friends, and I would play imaginary games. The whole thing flooded me with more emotions than I ever thought possible. I thought that this was gonna be a pit stop on my way to bawling my eyes out city with Life as Strange 2, turns out I wasn’t ready for the wave of emotion that hit me with this game. When the credits rolled, and even now thinking back on it, I realized that I’m already hooked on Chris’s story. And like Life is Strange the original and Before the Storm, it’s probably going to linger with me a long time.

-Major Spoilers-

for Life is Strange 1 and Before the Storm

Life is Strange the original is one of my favorite games of the current generation. I loved Max and Chloe’s journey through re-connection, reconciliation and in my game romance. I remember all the major narrative beats and how each twist story hit me so hard. From Kate’s attempted suicide, alternate Chloe’s injuries, Jefferson’s heel turn (Yes I was actually surprised by it. I shouldn’t have been but, I was really just enjoying the story.) Things moved so quickly for something many consider a “Walking Simulator.”

Before LIS I didn’t know a narrative-based game could hit me like that and because of it, I’ve played games like Detroit, Until Dawn and Telltale’s Borderlands which are games I always gonna recommend to anyone into the genre or even just starting out with it or games in general. I guess I’m the perfect audience for more cinematic games. It’s probably because movies can’t always hold my attention and this allows me to not only interact with the story but, tell it my own way.

I chose to let Chloe die. That she needed to go to back to the beginning and die so that everyone else could live. It was so hard but, after bawling my eyes out I realized that this not only what she wanted but, it was kind of a redemption for her. She did probably the hardest thing possible. Max would unmask Jefferson and save Kate. Nathan would go to jail most likely but, he’d be away from his dad and finally get the help he needs. Victoria will probably be heartbroken but at least she’ll be saved.

Part of me thinks that Chloe might have wanted to die because she felt guilty about the ultimate fate of the love of her life Rachel Amber. But, I think she also felt guilty for the pain she put the rest of the people in her life through. She might not have seemed so much like that in the original but, as we see in Before the Storm she’s way more vulnerable then she lets on. Her relationship with Rachel probably hardens a lot of her exterior. All and all, I have to say The first Life is Strange put me on a feels train and now Captain Spirit is the next stop.

End of Spoilers

for the Original LiS and BtS

And

Major Spoilers

for The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit

I say it right now, I couldn’t help but smile as the song Death with Dignity by Sufjan Stevens came on. I didn’t know the song but, it somehow it held a bit of the wonder I always have when I start a game like this one. There’s a bit of child-like wonder when I’m about to dive into something that I know will tell me a great story. I get the same feeling for a book I want to read, an indie movie, a slice of life Anime, and a great number more. A warm feeling with a low rumble of excitement. I love this feeling. It’s the feeling I chase when I consume things, a little like an adrenaline junkie. The song itself fits so well into the game because, the tone of the song kind of belies the intent of the lyrics. The whole thing lulls you into a false sense of security which is exactly what this game does.

The scene comes up on Chris, our POV character, as he starts drawing the titular Captain Spirit. You make a few decisions on what he’s gonna look like and whether he’s colorful or a bit dark. I chose light armor and a much more subdued design, mirroring some of my favorite characters from youth. he decides what he wants to do for the day. There are tons of options like playing around with his toys or getting to know Chris through his room.

Before I knew it dad was calling and I wanted to check out more than one thing and apparently, that was the wrong choice. When I finally answered and left to go to the kitchen he was angry. It wasn’t even that late and but it kind of in a way set off a bit of a chain reaction.

At first, I thought Chris’ dad was just going through a hard time. Living on without his wife and partner in raising their son and being unemployed. He is easy to sympathize with. While all of that may be true, Charles Eriksen is abusive.

Not just once or twice we keep finding evidence that the way he treats Chris in this game isn’t a one-off. We aren’t seeing the beginning of this, not the inciting incident. We are dropped into a just a normal Saturday in the life of Chris and Charles. This is their life together. Charles can be nice one moment and slinging abusive comments the next  DONTNOD has captured a chillingly realistic picture of an abusive parent. I know because it happened to me.

There’s a lot to unpack about the way Charles and Chris interact. Chris dutifully does chores around the house which should have been done by his father, like clearing the porch of snow keeping the water heater running, and wood stove on to heat the house. I found myself doing these plus the dishes and laundry for to get some kind of approval from the dad hoping that if I (Chris) was good we could somehow prevent another outburst and I could get myself and Chris out here unharmed. This was something I felt many times in my life. If you’re good enough then they will go back to the way they were before. Charles does realize and say something a bit demeaning like, and I’m paraphrasing here,  it’s like having his own maid. The comment felt a bit like a slap in the face for how hard he was working.

Charles drinks way more than is probably necessary and it’s not just one or two beers to watch the game. He’s three beers in while cooking breakfast and the half a bottle of the hard stuff while watching the game after promising his kid they’ll get a Christmas tree after the game. You can mention his drinking but, I didn’t choose those options because I was trying to be as small as possible. The thing is his drinking has a real consequence and that being his son. He will forget things he’s meant to do for him. Charles doesn’t always eat. He often gets angry at Chris for saying he should slow down. Chris has connected the causality of his father drinking with mood swings and even violence. This most assuredly negatively affect Chris’ relationship with drinking going forward.

Charles isn’t all bad. He isn’t evil. He doesn’t seek out to destroy Chris’ life. He has moments where he’s a good father. Like leading Chris to believe he isn’t getting a really good present to surprise him on Christmas day. Or when you shoot him with your nerf gun he plays along. Taking a moment during halftime to talk to him. He locks the firecrackers away from us when he realizes we can’t be trusted with him. Built a treehouse for Chris. He’s given a lot of freedom to be his self. The only problem is a lot of this comes as a detriment other places. The play box console that Charles buys is a replacement to the one it’s insinuated he broke. The treehouse is unfinished and actually dangerous as we see at the end. Chris is pretty unsupervised and even though his maternal grandparents want to help out Charles has kept them from him.

End of Spoilers

A lot of what went on with this game forced me to remember different parts of my childhood and unlike Chris, I had brothers to lean on when things got overwhelming. I don’t think I would have survived without them. They gave me something to live for. My Father wasn’t drunk so he couldn’t blame it on the alcohol not that it gives Charles any kind of leeway. I was sent back into myself in multiple ways to the kid I used to be and the whole thing hit me so hard. I’m so happy I played this.

 

Ps. Sorry this took so long to get out but, works been busy and I had to figure out what I wanted to say in here. If I wrote this when wanted I feel like I would have gotten a lot wrong and maybe even misrepresented myself. Thanks for your patience.

Advertisements

(Black) Power Fantasy

Black Panther was amazing. I loved every fucking frame. I can’t be objective and I know it. This for me was close to what how I felt when Luke Cage came out two years ago. That was a gritty view of life in a place I have never lived and hope to never live in but, what it spoke about was what it is to live in fear as a black man and that’s something I know all too well.
There’s something about these two properties that even though they are Marvel properties they portray a measure of the problems I face as a black man moving throughout the world. Black Panther is so black but, it not only that it speaks to colonization what that means and how it has and still does affect the world around it. Luke Cage talks about the Black Community and what it does and doesn’t do for its people. These things pieces of media hit me so hard and I know they didn’t do it for everyone else but, for a black man living in a mostly white suburb, it finally feels like we’ve arrived.

Luke Cage is someone I envy. Someone who doesn’t have to fear the cops or radicals. A man who can protect his home and his life with his own strength. With Charlottesville happening so close to home the idea of homegrown Nazi became a reality I didn’t think I’d have to face in 2018. Yes, I knew racists existed but, people who finally felt free to congregate and march in the open I didn’t know that was the world we were living in. Of course, the man is jacked and he’s definitely a ladykiller but, he’s also loyal to his friends and he looks out for the little guy and that’s what makes him a hero.

There’s a wonderful scene in the Netflix show where he’s getting back all the things for the Harlem community. They just walk up to his door and he does what he can to help them. The same can be said for the women who owns the apartment he has over the Chinese food shop he doesn’t hesitate to throw himself in the way of RPG careening through her storefront window. He does what he does for his community.

In Defenders, during the second episode LC and Claire were helping out after the earthquake and he quotes her saying “If we don’t take responsibility for our neighborhood, no one else will.” They’re both going block by block he’s removing chunks of buildings off cars and she’s treating the wounded. Luke Cage is all about community and that hits home.

For me, there are a ton of injustices I would love to be able to do something about without having to put a vote in a machine and hope the rest of the country agrees with me. This might be a little vain but, I’ve always wanted to be hero helping people less fortunate than myself.

So why Luke Cage and why not Superman: Luke Cage has a code of law, he doesn’t do what he does for free. It might seem unfair but, it’s realistic. His name, place of business, and the names of his family members are all public knowledge he has something he needs to protect and life to keep up. Superman hides his identity because his human life is more important to those around him. Supes is strong enough to protect everyone in his life and still live whatever life he wants to but, his anonymity is something very important to him. Luke Cage has decided to be a part of the community and takes part in its everyday struggles as well as go out and save the world.

Black Panther is the man of the hour right now and as we all talk about #WakandaForever and how black the movie is I don’t want to lose sight of why BP is as excellent a character as he is. He is accomplished, having multiple degrees from the best colleges from all over the world. One of the richest men in all the world. He has spies in every country and weapons that would make every 2nd Amendment guns rights activist and Nuclear Dictator shit their collective pants. Simply put he has the biggest toys and he knows how to use them. He’s Ben Kenobi (secret Jedi warrior), Liam Neeson (in practically all of his movies), and actually good spy so not James Bond…

“So BP has all the toys, what else?” you ask? Black Panther and Wakanda represent a future we would like to have for ourselves way too much. It’s been expressed over a hundred times as everyone pretends they don’t know why Black people are so in love with the movie. Black Panther is a king which in it of itself is enviable but when you match that with the fact that it’s of a country that was never touched by colonialism and his people were never enslaved you hit a whole new level of awesome. T’challa has never had to even consider the feelings of white men, colonizers as they’re called in the film. He doesn’t care that they think of him the king of some tribe of farmers in the middle of Africa because he knows inside that he’s more and that confidence is something that draws the eye in every scene he’s in.

So why not Batman: Forgoing the option of bringing up yet again the idea of secret identities… it’s easy to say that Bruce Wayne is the mask and Batman is the true identity. But moving on Black Panther in the movie it the prototypical good son. He’s always respectful, never raises his voice, even-tempered, and patient. In the comics he’s a different person almost entirely he’s passionate, brash, prideful but, remains one of the smartest men in the Marvel universe. The reason I would choose Black Panther is he chooses to save the world out of a duty to his people and Batman does it because he can’t stop. Batman needs this. Black Panther has and will stop if it doesn’t affect his people.

In Civil War and in the Black Panther movie proper, he’s shown that he’s willing to understand the villain and hear him out. For the man who murdered his father and the man who stole his country, Black Panther shows a humility that is superhuman. Killmonger was a man who may have done horrible things he wasn’t completely wrong about what he wanted but, wrong about the way he went about it. His rage made him no different from those he was trying  It hurt Black Panther to have him kill himself because he knew not only could this man be an asset to Wakanda but, he could probably offer valuable insight to the world at large that until now the people of Wakanda didn’t have.

PS. I’ve seen Black Panther three times in theatres I’ve never done that with any other movie. Even for things I like I can’t do repeat viewings but, I love this movie so much. I just want to give everyone who had anything to do with a big hug. Black Panther is a cultural phenomenon.