Sexuality isn’t a choice.
At least, in the real world. But when it comes to role-playing-games players are typically given an amount of agency over their character. This occasionally extends to who their character would prefer to have a romantic dalliance with.
In the case of Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, players are invited to step into the shoes of Chloe. This is Chloe before the blue hair, before Max returns and before Rachel Amber had gone missing.
In fact, Rachel is very much present and accounted for.
The focal point of Episode 01 is the growing relationship between Chloe and Rachel. Depending on your preference that relationship can be filled with flirtatious innuendo or straight-up platonic.
This is all well and good. I absolutely advocate for games to give players ways to express their romantic inclinations, but there’s something to be said for the implicitness of sexuality in modern media.
Anyone who’s been around the queer scene for a time will likely pick up on the hints and nods to queer content (Rachel’s flanno, anyone?) but in a time where the status quo means people are assumed straight until told otherwise seems to still cast queer romance options into the background.
As a friend once said, “queer content shouldn’t be like a magic eye puzzle”.
In saying that I felt that the queer options for the Chloe x Rachel relationship were clear and strong, but I’m speaking from the perspective of a queer woman.
When things were subtle did I see through that subtlety because I knew what to look for? The moments that were outright flirtatious and romantic were welcome breaths of fresh air in a usually stifling medium.
Recently I excitedly played the most recent Fire Emblem game when I heard there was finally the option for same-sex marriage.
Needless to say, I was heavily disappointed to discover that there was one eligible wife for my female character. She was a child of two other characters who could have been easily missed.
Not altogether inclusive.
I don’t want to have to dig for my queer romantic interests. I’m bored with allusions and innuendo. In my playthrough of Life is Strange: Before the Storm, Chloe and Rachel have a romantic relationship that I hope I’ll be able to explore explicitly in future episodes.
Perhaps you’ll choose differently and that’s wonderful that such games give us the agency to make those choices because, in real life, we can’t.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm was provided to PowerUp! on Xbox One by the publisher.