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Life is Strange and the Lineage of Corruption

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

Arcadia Bay is not a city divided by saints and sinners. The villains win and consume everything. The storm is a Noah's Ark attempt to purge humanity of everything and let them start over.

At the centre of this town are a few entities who have the power to control, to influence and to corrupt. Arcadia Bay and its scum and villainy is divided by what is our basest human instincts and what is the correct devil on the correct shoulder.

The first and the most obvious of these is Sean Prescott, the Henry Potter of Arcadia. The Prescott name is printed on every bench, every room and every statue out here. For Sean, the Prescott name is something that everyone should remember, whether it be through admiration or through fear.

He is the one that pushes dozens of workers out of their jobs and has their children face financial fear and uncertainty, while seeing the face of entitlement, Nathan Prescott walking over them. One of those people was Drew North. Once Sean bought a spot for his son on a football team, something Nathan himself isn't comfortable with, Drew saw for himself the only vengeance he could seek out against that horrid name.

With his father pushing him forward from behind and his schoolmates shoving him down from the front, Nathan was already on the brink. Thankfully, he decided to seek mentorship to guide him away from complete chaos. However, that someone happened to be Mark Jefferson.

Mark was a true father-figure to Nathan. He taught him how to embrace his sadistically violent tendencies and channel them onto people who cannot dare raise their voice against him. Somewhere between the two Arcadia games, Nathan decided to stop getting bullied for his place in the social structure structure and start creating a new one where his allies are at the top and everyone else finds threats on their phones and guns to their head.

Unfortunately for him, another stubbornly pushy one started to poke her nose around his business. This one was Chloe Price, the former star pupil of Blackwell Academy.

Chloe, despite being the most explored character in this series, cannot be ignored for her own presence. Her victim this time also happens to be her friend. A friend who is easily pushed around as an irregular of the hellhole she managed to get kicked out of.

Life is Strange is a story about how Max finds the balance she needs to survive outside of her picture-perfect world. Abandoning her high school drama for the much sadder story of the dark room, the angelic Max finds herself unable to brighten up Arcadia through her charming optimism.

Before she faces the storm itself, her own nightmares show her to be the manipulative timelord who tricked people into being her friends and played god with their lives. She ends up confronted by that storm and is served with a decision: Undo everything or except your role as the legacy of this town is passed to you, and walk onto Noah's Ark knowing you have not earned your way on it.

But how did this split come to be? What causes Chloe to confront an over-the-edge sociopath with rage issues and antagonise him further into madness? This is where the final devil comes into play: Rachel Amber has been controlling most of the story.

From her very first appearance, it is Rachel, not Chloe, who has been controlling their relationship. You, as Chloe, no longer control the world. Every time Rachel needs your assistance, you lose all autonomy and default to please her. Why not? After all, this is her superpower.

Rachel, having been disillusioned about her dad, sees all other relationships as a game of power. With Chloe, she found the second half of her power couple, someone who would bury you in brutal honesty and not be restricted by consequences. After all, she does not ditch school by herself, she brings along Chloe.

In a relationship, once the excitement and the rush wears off, all that is left is real. For Rachel, much like her mother who lived in a fantastical world of her own design, something like dating Frank or Jefferson, something that might hurt Chloe, was not out of place, but on par with her decision to elope with Chloe. She wanted to feel powerful again.

Having lost sight of who the victims of her actions will be, Rachel started to score her highs with Frank, and then started to relive the mystery with Jefferson.

She overshot here, however. Not only did she manage to seal her own fate, but also Chloe's, someone who walked along the razor's edge to find her. Even after her misdeeds were made clear to Chloe, after some surreal detachment from her side, she continues her search. Among the images of eternal happiness Rachel sold Chloe, and was perhaps herself enamoured by, Chloe managed to dig deeper and found a real future with Rachel. But by this point, there was no going back.

Rachel's accidental role as the devil-on-your-shoulder is what makes her, in my opinion, the most compelling character in this series. She passed this onto Chloe, who in turn, allowed Max to have the option to steal money from the disability fund and ignore a call from Kate Marsh. Max confronts the final demon, Mark Jefferson who is one of the few people who will survive the story no matter what, thanks to the safest place in the town at that moment: The Dark Room.

No one is exempt from doing their own damage. Everyone needs time and introspection to untangle themselves so that they do not end up costing themselves or anyone else any harm. As seen in Life is Strange, most people do not get this luxury of perfect circumstances to get themselves out of the vicious cycle.

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