Feb 5, 2018
Warning: Spoilers for both Life is Strange Season 1 and *Life is Strange: Before the Storm*
In Life is Strange Season 1, Racher Amber is a mystery. If you walk around and talk to the locals, everyone (including those with less than stellar personalities) has nothing to say but praises about Rachel. Throughout the game, Rachel is built up to be perfect to everyone you speak to. The artists loved to try to capture her essence, the nerds enjoyed her intellectual prowess, and the popular kids enjoyed partying it up with her. But even to those who knew her, there was an element of mystery surrounding Rachel. She kept up a certain distance from everyone but was still able to draw people in with her personality.
Understandably, this made me excited and a little bit nervous for Rachel’s portrayal in the prequel, Life is Strange: Before the Storm. Who was this person who was able to seduce all of Arcadia Bay and put all these diverse personalities under her spell?
Once Rachel made her first appearance in the series, it was a little overwhelming. She stepped into frame and I immediately thought, “This is looks like a kid trying to look like a grownup.” There stood Rachel Amber, all dolled up in thick eyeliner and a gothic outfit that looks like it should intimidate and be edgy but is a little awkward on her small frame. She was a fifteen year old looking to impress and rebel. Not so different from Chloe who was doing the same thing but Rachel’s execution was more loud and dramatic. Rachel definitely had the flair for the dramatic.
In the first episode, Rachel brings Chloe along in her adventure to catch her dad cheating. However, Rachel doesn’t tell Chloe this. When Rachel sees what she clearly doesn’t want to see, her mood shifts drastically. This was when my red flags started going up. Rachel becomes immediately non-communicative. She then attemps to steal a wine bottle from a couple (wether or not she’s successful is up to you). Another red flag. Here is a teenager who is already drowning her sorrows in alcohol and at the expense of stealing.
When they move into the junkyard, Rachel’s sour mood continues. She throws insults and blames on Chloe when Chloe tries to decipher what was going on with Rachel. They quickly make up at the end of the day and Rachel confesses that the couple kissing in the park was her dad and a woman who was definitely not her mom. Her reaction is burn a photo of her and her dad in a trash can and knock it over, causing a raging forest fire.
From the start, Rachel Amber is complex and volatile. She is unpredictable and a beautiful liar.
What hurts the most about Rachel is that she is a perfectly flawed teenager. There is nothing more romantically tragic about someone trying to make their mark in the world in the most risky ways possible. Her end is even more tragic.
It wasn’t until the end of Before the Storm that I felt a lot sorrow for Rachel. She was extremely firey and full of life. She had big dreams and wishes and regrets. And then everything ended before she could even have the chance to really live.
On one hand, I’m a little glad they gave us such a short snippet of Rachel’s life. It really hammered down the fact that life can be so brief. So while Rachel’s story is tragic, it’s not so removed from reality. That’s why I really like the Life is Strange series. Despite the obvious embellishments, it’s pretty down to earth and the characters make everything worth it. Some people may dismiss it as a game but it’s still great medium of storytelling. I wouldn’t have it any other way.