Soundtrack Remix / Life is Strange

Here we are internet. I’m writing a response to an article from another website, because it’s  a damn good idea, and I have to get in on it. Also, spoilers for Life is Strange ahead.

Over at Waypoint, Vice's gaming website, Mike Diver took the idea that the BBC had a bit ago  when they rescored the movie Drive. Mike applied this to a video game, namely, Life is Strange.

My love for Life is Strange knows no bounds. Since it’s one of my absolute favorite games to come out in the last few years, I cursed Mike's name for having such a good idea first, and decided to write this response article.

The soundtrack to Life is Strange is near perfect. The songs are well chosen, and while they do tend to skew a bit on the "indie folk" side a bunch, they introduced me to some fantastic artists such as alt-J, Jose Gonzalez and Local Natives. To mess with the soundtrack is messing with perfection, but I took a stab at it.

I've mirrored Mike's article, by choosing songs for the same scenes he did. His song choices have a certain flare to them, and in many cases I can appreciate his approach. With my choices, I've made sure they fit thematically, lyrically, and fit in the game’s time window (mostly), as the game takes place in October of 2013.

Screenshots from Dontnod Entertainment/Square Enix

Screenshots from Dontnod Entertainment/Square Enix

SCENE 1: MAX WANDERS THE SCHOOL HALLS

Down in the Valley - The Head and the Heart

Headphones on, and late title card. Max leaves her classroom and after having a rough time with Victoria in class, puts on her music to relax and escape for a bit to the bathroom. You wander the halls as the music plays under Max's inner monologues, and you get glimpses of the many characters you will continue to bump into in the series. Environmental clues and details introduce the setting and plot.

I didn't go too contemporary with this choice, but I felt it needed a folksy, calm demeanor to really set up Max as a character, and start the series on a positive note. It needed to be a song that  allows the player to make their way through the halls, exploring and listening to Max's inner thoughts, without the music rushing them. I landed on “Down in the Valley” (2011) by The Head and the Heart as it fits this need perfectly.

My song choice is a bit ironic, as Max doesn't really have any "rough" or "rowdy" ways. The main lyric that fits is "We do it over and over and over again,” which provides a little foreshadowing for the beginning while the scene of Max discovering her time power repeats; hinting at the cyclical nature of the game's timeline.

SCENE 2: THE ECLIPSE

Stay Awake - London Grammar

The climax of Episode Two has Max and Warren shivering together under an unexpected eclipse, and we are treated to slow panning shots over the cast as we discover their place at the end of this episode. This episode can end dramatically different depending on what happens with Kate on the roof. I think "Stay Awake" by London Grammar is a perfect fit for both scenarios.

Released in September 2013, London Grammar's album If You Wait is a standout for that year, and their somewhat ethereal sound compliments the delicate struggle the cast find themselves in at the end of the episode.

The lyrics fit for each character; David is truly a blank page before Joyce, and Nathan just can't really leave Victoria be. Kate has a soul like no other, and Max will take Chloe's hand and go find Rachel.

This song choice is a bit on the nose, but I like it.

SCENE 3: MAX AND CHLOE HANG OUT THE MORNING AFTER THEIR BLACKWELL RAID

Dance 'Till The Morning Light - Slow Club

A slow breeze comes through the open window, and the two friends who just had a daring night of adventure lay in bed together, and just enjoy the quiet morning.

It's a scene I've enjoyed myself a few times in life. The scene is almost perfect in how serene and peaceful it is. Picking a song for it is a delicate choice to maintain this atmosphere.

I've gone with “Dance 'Till The Morning Light” (2009) by Slow Club. A bit of a reach as it came out four years before the game is set, and it doesn't really fit Chloe's grunge aesthetic, but I think it keeps that atmospheric balance I was looking for.

The pool scene, this scene and the one following it after they get up, really sold me on the love between Max and Chloe. So, a few lyrics of “Dance ‘Till The Morning Light” fit:

    I heard you were looking for a man to lead
    Well, I can tell you that I'm not the one you need
    I'm always three steps behind the dance and the time
    So if I can’t change for you, I won’t change for me (Verse 3).

Max is literally ‘all over the place’ in time, and while she's not the ‘man’ that Chloe might need, Chloe should forget about being alone and give her a shot. Rachel might be easier on the eyes according to the song, but Max is the one that truly loves her.

SCENE 4: THE VORTEX CLUB PARTY

Gun (KDA Remix) - CHVRCHES

A rich-indie-art-school-dance-party deserves a good obscure dance remix of a popular 2013 song, so I've gone with the KDA Remix of “Gun” by CHVRCHES.

It fits the beat of the party, and the album The Bones of What You Believe where the song is featured was released on September 20th 2013, shortly before the events of the game. It also makes sense that if the party had a DJ, they wouldn't just be playing an original recording of a song with no spin on it.

You spend the party hunting down Chloe, who is hunting down Nathan, mirroring the song's lyrics. The lyrics actually fit the theme a little too well; bluntly foreshadowing Chloe's fate at the end of the episode.

SCENE 5: MY ENDING

Shallows - Daughter

There are two endings to Life is Strange, and my song choice coincides with the one where I made one of the hardest choices I've ever made in a game. I fought through the entire series to save Max, and ultimately had to let her go.

It’s hard to replace the original “Spanish Sahara” by Foals, but I decided on “Shallows” by Daughter as I felt it fit the theme, flow and pace of that ending. Daughter is really like no other band. Seeing them live at Massey Hall in Toronto is a memory I will always hold onto. They create something beautiful, but fragile with every note and every lyric. That beautiful fragility fits the ending of Life is Strange; reminding us that, despite holding dominion over time itself, life still takes it's toll. The love that we hold, and have, in life can be so fragile.

You can find Max in the shallows.

Shoutout to Mike Diver for the idea and for writing his choices, be sure to check them out!

Growing up in a small town, going to school for graphic and web design and finally moving to Toronto, Colin began to look for a new project and landed on Third Person. He has always had a passion for video games and finally decided to do something about it. Inspired by websites like Giant Bomb, Polygon, and Waypoint, Colin has founded Third Person with the intent of covering games using a mix of the old and the new.

Colin loves to dive into RPGs of all kinds, exploring their worlds and developing his character. Well-crafted stories draw him in too, and he is always on the lookout for a new adventure.

When he's not spending a billion years in a game's character creator, he can be found behind his camera, reading comic books or probably sleeping.

Some of his favorite games: Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen, Alpha Protocol, Mass Effect, Overwatch, Life is Strange, Persona 4