Gaming

REVIEW: Life Is Strange

By  | 

Over the weekend and after much encouragement from a friend, I finally was able to set aside and pick up the game “Life is Strange”. Actually it wasn’t as much encouragement as the fact that my friend bought me the game and demanded that I played it! The game is developed by DontNod Entertainment and published by Square Enix. The story takes place over 5 episodes, which the first was released in January 2015 with the final episode releasing in late October 2015.

I will admit I was a bit apprehensive at first, due to the fact most episodic games have a similar Telltale feel to them. Overall, they tend to follow the same pattern of interactive cut-scenes with a combination of puzzles and choices to make along the way that only give you the illusion of choice and rarely impact the story in any way, shape or form.  However, Life is Strange left me feeling quite impressed and content with my decision to play through a game of such great depth with relatable and likable characters, as well as unique game mechanics.

SO WHAT’S IT ABOUT ANYWAY?

Life is Strange is the story of a young girl by the name of Maxine Caulfield (Max for short) who is a senior at the private Blackwell Academy at Arcadia Bay. Early in the game, Max has a vision of the entire town being destroyed by a giant tornado while in the middle of her class and decides to take a trip to the restroom to clear her head. During her trip to the lavatory, Max witnesses the murder of Chloe Price, and at that moment she learns that she has the ability to rewind time and redo the event. Without trying to give too much of the plot away, Max tries to use these powers to stop the town from being destroyed, like in her vision, solve the mystery of a missing girl, help her friends, and uncover a dark secret happening within her own town.

Yes, there’s a lot going on within 5 short episodes, and saying it all out loud makes it seem like a hokey plot, but the narration and story progression keeps you captivated at every moment. On top of the fantasy aspect the game deals with dark, yet real and relatable issues of drug abuse, mental illness, PTSD, bullying, suicide, and forces you to make extremely tough choices that has you questioning whether you did the right thing or not.

Life is Strange

What makes Life is Strange different from your typical episodic game, such as The Walking Dead series or Wolf Among Us, is that every choice you make, every object you interact with, and every new piece of information that you find out along the way directly impacts the story line at some point. It can affect how people treat you later on in game, or provide you with different dialogue options, as well as who will be in certain parts of the game later down the line. All of these factors provide amazing replay value to Life is Strange as even the smallest change in your choices can create a butterfly effect and alter the story line completely. It made me feel like I truly had an impact on the story, and I was immersed 100% into it.

WHAT ABOUT MECHANICS?

The game is very much an interactive game, such as Grim Fandango, The Walking Dead and The Day Of The Tentacle, but what truly makes it stand out is the ability to rewind time. It’s like Prince of Persia (without all the action) meets The Walking Dead. The game has you walking around certain places and interacting with people to find objects, solve puzzles, but unlike a lot of those games it doesn’t force you to find everything. Unlike other games in its’ genre, Life is Strange does have quite a few hidden or not so obvious objects and interactions that will affect the story significantly if left unfound. And at the end of each chapter, the game provides you with a recap of the choices you made compared to everyone else that has played the game — which often left me scratching my head thinking “When the hell did that happen?” or “How did I completely miss that interaction?”

 

With frequent sales on Steam, PS4 and Xbox One, this game provides significant value for the price you’ll pay, and overtime provides replay value that is unparalleled to its’ competition. Life is Strange is a must for anyone, on any system – and I cannot recommend it enough.