Life Is Strange (Video Game Review)
Those who know me know that I am a big fan of storytelling/graphic adventure games, and over the years I have played many of these games such as Heavy Rain, Catherine and Until Dawn. Following this trend, I recently purchased a new game that I have had my eye on for a while called “Life Is Strange”.
Life Is Strange is an episodic graphic adventure game developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Square Enix, in which the player takes on the role as Max Caufield, a photography student at Blackwell Academy located in the fictional town of Arcadia Bay who discovers that she has the ability to rewind time at any given moment. The ability to go back in time gives the player the chance to change the decisions they make throughout the game, a useful feature if they are worried about the potential outcome of previous choices. The game is played in third person view and really emphasises the importance of the “butterfly effect”, In addition it will even warn you when a choice you make could have heavy consequences, pushing the player to use this rewind ability to think more on the weight of their choices instead of making hasty decisions.
In Life Is Strange, the player may interact with and examine various objects as well as being able to talk to many character’s; some of these interactions will create new scenario’s in the form of side-quests for the player to complete at their own discretion, these events can also be rewound and ignored if the player chooses to do so. Every choice in the game affects how the story progresses and the gameplay really highlights how some of the choices you make that seem beneficial in the short term could easily come back to bite you in the long run.
A friend of yours has recently got into some trouble with the police and appears outside your home in the pouring rain, it’s cold, wet and your friend look’s terrified. Your friend tells you that someone has written threatening messages over a well respected family’s property and they are being framed for the crime; professing their innocence, they say that they can’t go home at the risk of being taken in and they need time to collect proof.
A) Let them stay/ hide in your home for a day or two until they gather what evidence they need.
B) Turn them away, You’d rather not get involved.
Now your friend could be telling the truth and by selecting option A you are supporting that whilst giving them a chance to prove it, not to mention they are your friend and you may feel you should support them in times of need.
On the other hand if the police are involved then this is serious business, they could trace your friend back to you and potentially find you to be aiding and abetting a criminal! Is it really worth the hassle? Have you considered the fact that your friend might have actually done something wrong?
To add to the sense of drama and intrigue, the game presents many situations like the one mentioned above, and you will find yourself scratching your head in a heartbeat.
Life Is Strange is made up of 5 episodes which were released individually, roughly 2 months apart on the Playstation Network throughout 2015. It was subsequently released on a disc format in January 2016.
I love how well the game sticks to the ‘every decision counts’ rule; not so long ago I played a game called Beyond, created by Quantic Dream (Heavy Rain), the game had excellent graphics and the story was entertaining, however I felt that the decision making was being controlled by the game and not many of the choices you made affected how the story progressed.
Luckily Life Is Strange doesn’t fall into that trap; the story’s progression is more wholly based around the conversations you have with other characters within the game, changing the outcome depending on the decisions you choose. One example of this is when you spot an argument occurring between a member of staff and a student; you have the option of either stepping in and standing up for your friend or taking a picture and avoiding the conflict. I chose to step in; I wasn’t going to let my friend be bullied. Later in the story however, you find yourself talking to someone about the incident and you are asked if you have any proof; If I had taken a photo I would have been able to provide it as proof and the story may have progressed differently, sadly I had nothing but my words alone.
The character development in the story is incredibly well done; Each character has their own fleshed out background story which you can find out by examining photos and other objects throughout the many rooms of Blackwell Academy.
The rewind mechanic is also a very unique factor to bring into the game. In many episodic games you have to live with the decisions you make once you select an option, but being able to rewind time and change your mind adds an interesting twist. You may even find yourself rewinding the game simply to see what would have happened in the short-term if you had chosen the other option.
Just the one negative here, I found very little overall but there were a few moments of bad lip syncing in some of the episodes. Other reviews have also criticised the game for its high use of ‘slang’ but in a game based around young adults and teenagers I think that it adds to the character authenticity.
What I really love about these types of games is that they normally have an excellent way of sucking you into the story and Life Is Strange does not disappoint.Upon entering the first episode it isn’t long before you find yourself exploring the halls of Blackwell Academy and interacting with the many different characters that present themselves. Soon enough you will have a list of characters you like and dislike which will affect the way you make your choices throughout the game.
In conclusion, if you are like me and are a sucker for these episodic adventure games, I would highly recommend the wonder that is “Life Is Strange”!
Thanks for reading!