Episodic games are huge right now. With games like Tales from the Borderlands and Game of Thrones taking up the spotlight. However, in the background of the episodic madness is a game thats launch may have gone overlooked. This game is called Life Is Strange. Life Is Strange is a episodic interactive drama graphic adventure video game developed by DONTNOD Entertainment, and published by Square Enix. The game centers around Maxine Caulfield, our photogenic super heroine, who discovers that she can rewind time.
Life Is Strange is broken down into five episodes being released every few months. The first episode, Chrysalis, brings the world into view as well as giving us a glimpse into all of the characters. And after a three month wait the game is finally back with Episode 2: Out of Time. As the name suggest, out of time seems to be the overarching theme of the episode as you start to see the far reaching consequences of some of the choices you made in the first episode.
Max as a character is your typical teenage girl. She likes bands, watches movies, and typically tries to stay out of everyone’s way. All of this changes when she discovers her ability. An event is going to happen that will wipe her town off the map if she doesn’t stop it. Problem is, she doesn’t know how. Doom and gloom aside, this game hits home on a personal level. Watching Max interact with people is both awkward and slightly comforting. Awkward because it is almost like she says all of the wrong things one purpose and comforting because I remember being just like her in high school. It is in these moments that Life Is Strange truly shines. It manages to draw you into Max’s world through a universally understood concept, wanting to be accepted. The rewind mechanic seems like it is in past to better experience the well thought out story.
In Life Is Strange there is no “right” answer to the choices that you are given. For the most part you are going to be sacrificing something with every choice. For instance, two choices that I made in episode one completely blocked a path I wanted to take in episode two. From my point of view the thing looked unrelated, until they were not. That being said, there is no right or wrong, the only real decision is choosing what you can live with. With choices seeming more organic than forced I took my time exploring and watching things unfold without my interference. Then, rewinding and taking a different action. Their is nothing more satisfying than saying an answer before someone else after stealing it from them in the future.
The atmosphere and the sounds of the city are stunning. This is definitely one of the prettiest games I have ever played. The soundtrack in Life Is Strange hits the nail on the head, never seeming overpowering and matching the tone of the game perfectly. The dialog in Life Is Strange is the only aspect of the game that doesn’t hold the same polish that the rest of the game holds. The main problem being that it seems forced. Every one liner and witty comeback is delivered in a way that makes you feel like the person speaking the line has no clue what they are saying. That coupled with the fact that the words don’t match the movement of the lips most of the time and you are left with some hilarious conversations. However, this doesn’t take too much away from the experience that is heavily based in your own choices and actions.
When there is so much to see you are bound to miss out on something. After completing the first and second chapter I realized that I hadn’t done over half the things that you could do. I was so focused on the main narrative that I overlooked the little things happening the the background. There were several choice that I just didn’t notice were choices or skipped over completely by accident. Things that will probably also have consequences later. Your choices build on each other which can either be a good or bad thing.
Overall, I see Life Is Strange going into new territory. It is essentially you reading a choose-your-own-adventure-book with your hand on the last page, ready to flip back if you don’t like the outcome of your choice. It is not without its flaws, as unrealistic dialog and sub par motion capture tend to hold it back at crucial moments. However, Life Is Strange accomplishes what it set out to do. Create a compelling and emotional ride that is completely controlled by your actions and your in-actions.
Life Is Strange is available on PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, and Playstation 4.
An Adventure You Will Want To Rewind
Plot - 10/10
Gameplay - 10/10
Design - 8/10
+ Beautiful Visuals
+ Amazing Soundtrack
+ Engaging Story
+ New spin on the TellTale Formula
- Unrealistic Dialogue