Admittedly, I picked up Life is Strange to experience just how cringeworthy it is. I’d heard a bit of negativity regarding the game and its fans. While the concept of separating the art from the artist is debatable, I think this is a clear case of separating the game from its user base. It’s best experienced without any hype or misconceptions attached.
In a broad sense, Life is Strange is a story about Maxine “Max” Caulfield, an 18 year old girl attending the prestigious Blackwell Academy. A few weeks into her course, she unintentionally finds herself the observer of a fatal shooting in the girl’s bathroom. Fearing for her life, she discovers that she is able to reverse time. This jumps back to earlier that day, giving her time to alter the events of the future, for better or worse. The rest is best experienced blind.
It’s interesting to see time travel in an adventure setting as it’s typically reserved for more action-oriented titles. At any time, the player can rewind time which affects movement and conversation. If you decide that you’d like to alter how a conversation played out, you can simply rewind and choose a different response. Should one response yield some interesting information, you can then rewind and catch them off guard with newfound knowledge that you shouldn’t have (yet).
A lot of extra attention went into the game from the developers which adds to the world. Max has her trusty journal on her at all times, in which she records the events of the game. She also receives text messages from characters with threads being updated between episodes and after major milestones, which gives you a bit more insight into each character’s personalities.
The game isn’t without its downsides however. What initially turned me away was the abundance of memes in the first episode. I will admit that they can be a bit grating but the more I think about it, they do actually make sense in the setting of a school. Thankfully, after the first episode, they mostly disappear from view.
I found that the engine could be a bit wonky at times. I played through the PS4 version which performs perfectly fine except for a few scene transitions which caused the framerate to drop through the floor. It seems this was a known error however, since the game repeats the opening few seconds of the scene that it grinded through the first time.
Anyway, I realise that I haven’t said a lot in detail (with good reason) but I highly recommend Life is Strange. I played through an episode a day which killed me because each one was better than the next and I just wanted to marathon the whole lot rather than go to work each day.
Episodes 3 and 4 ended with cliffhangers that had me floored, rushing home to carry on with the saga. The whole ordeal is wrapped up with a punch in the gut because of how hard it was to make a final decision.
Bah, go pick it up right now! It’s currently on sale on Steam during the Summer sale. I don’t regret it one bit.
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Released in 2015
Platforms: PC, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One