Life is Strange – An Unexpected Emotional Rollercoaster

Developers/Publishers: Dontnod Entertainment & Square Enix

Episodes: 5

Type: Character Arc; a lot of looking around and trying find clues and use the main character’s ability to rewind time – Butterfly Effect style.

View: 3rd person

Rating: M

 

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Wow. When I first saw the trailer for this game before it came out, it interested me but I wasn’t seriously going to pursue it because I had a stack of games ready (just finishing Until Dawn and still finishing Rise of The Tomb Raider). When I came across it online, I figured I’d give it try – also, I thought it was $4.99 for the game (that was only for the first chapter…) and I’ve made this mistake before.

 

Despite having to give out more cash (the price was a fraction of Tomb Raider), it turned out to be a delightful gem with a lot more than meets the eye. Just five chapters in the game, Life is Strange is more enjoyable than most games I’ve played and doesn’t disappoint because of the sheer effort the developers put in (with player feedback) to building more rounded characters. Between the players choice, rewind abilities and a mysteriously compelling plot, playing this game will leave you with a gap that other games will plain fail to fill. Life is Strange is a game that forces you to care for its characters and the decisions you make for them, sometimes for better or for worse.

 

So let’s dive in.

 

Storyline:

After years away from her small town of Arcadia Bay, Maxine Caulfield returns to go to the local prestigious Blackwell Academy to study photography. It sounds cliche, but she doesn’t exactly fit in. Where? Anywhere, it seems, and her slightly Debbie Downer demeanor is actually quite funny at times. For instance, when she is at the lighthouse, a regular spot for the ‘cool kids’, she simply suggest it’s the place to be – of course she wouldn’t have been invited. This kind of talk happens often.

 

Another funny feature of Max is she is nosy AF because it’s a mystery game, but that doesn’t stop the people around her telling the hipster Nancy Drew she needs to lay off or that she’s weird. And she’s not always liked by those around here:

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In that time there are several story developments that begin with a near shooting in the girl’s bathroom. The effect turns to Max having the ability to rewind time to stop the event, which leads to a butterfly effect. At the same time, the town and school is littered with missing person posters of  former Blackwell student Rachel Amber. Reuniting with her former best friend Chloe, the real game begins as each choice is made, altering time and uncovering the dark truth lurking in Arcadia Bay, which is in threat of a major tornado.

 

But even what I have just explained hardly does the game justice – it’s a very unique game and I’ll admit, I cried. So let me try to boast about it a little more:

  • Player’s choice games are always more engaging and LIS allows you to ponder the ideas AND take back the decision to try another route for the most part. Some decisions can not be taken back and it’s really sad. How? You’ll find out.
  • SIMPLE gameplay and mechanics – even her time rewind ability is extremely easy to use, which is a refreshing feature. Nothing complicates a game more when you have to select too many buttons at once while tilting the controller etc!
  • Graphics are well done and bright, detailed, fine and appealing to the eyes.

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  • Great realistic dialogue – this is probably due to player feedback. Don’t get me wrong – sometimes it’s corny, but Max is also 18 and growing into herself, so the corny has its own authenticity.

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  • Goes over the necessary new adult problems – drugs, depression and suicide, HS crushes, mean girls, psycho rich kids, trying to pass in homework, death, hitting on the professor… OK, so most things. Also the characters are more than just the typical arcs. They are well developed for such a brief game.
  • tumblr_nktdk5ePyP1ro6yndo1_400The main character can’t dance to save her life and it really shows a little bit of all of us (hahahahaha).
  • There are some shockers, some that can be redone, while others can’t. Out of the five episodes, the only slightly yawn-worthy is some of the beginning of Episode 4, but even that episode has some unique twists. The further it goes, it gets really psychological and bizarre, like nothing I have witnessed in a game before. I can’t say more to that – just play it!
  • While I already mentioned the excellent rounded characters, even minor characters are memorable, although this depends on you as a player making interactions.
  • Werid_Lady_ProfileThere’s a random character called ‘weird lady’. That’s all. It’s just funny as hell.
  • The mellow Indie soundtrack. It plays a lot but kind of fits in this bizarre story. The original score is by Jonathan Morali and the soundtrack by several artists, which are all included in the video below.

 

 

I do recommend you try both endings – one is so much more emotional than the other, so keep the tissues close because it gets dark. But not every decision goes that way. Sometimes it’s silly stuff like this:

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All in all, Life is Strange is a game with some truly unique twists. It allows a gamer to get close to the characters. It helps that Max’s abilities can be used often and the characters have depth. It’s playful with serious tones and you can easily get emotionally invested in the story.

 

Here is the launch trailer to see more:

 

Ending Song:

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