Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Don’t Nod
Release Date: 10/20/2015
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Have you ever wanted to time travel and change the past? How about just the last 30 seconds? You get that option in Life is Strange. You play as Maxine Caulfield who discovers she can rewind time by saving her lifetime childhood friend from a fatal gunshot wound in the girl’s bathroom. This changes Max’s life and everyone around her, but it’s up to you to decide if it’s for good or worse. Life is Strange tells a fantastically beautiful story with wonderfully written characters. The game will keep you hooked and have you playing all 8 hours with barely a blink.
Life is Strange tries to build on the revolutionary point-and-click adventure genre that The Walking Dead revived from Telltale Games. The game is a little more open-ended, but not by much. There’s more to explore and items to “look at” which gives you a bigger insight into Max’s own thoughts and mind. Honestly, by looking at all these objects you get to know Max better and the world around you more. Besides this, you just walk through every area to the next character that advances the story. There are some “time puzzles” that require you to select certain dialog choices and then rewind time to use that info to your advantage. It’s an interesting idea, but Life is Strange’s storytelling is a bit of a mess and requires you to pay attention very closely or you will miss something.
The game is broken up into 5 episodes and each one has a cliffhanger ending. The game trucks on at a good pace except for the final chapter which is a roller coaster and kind of a mess. Without spoiling everything you kind of “review” everything you have done through the game and involve an awful stealth sequence. However, through the entire game, I couldn’t help but realize that no matter what I chose the final outcome never changes which is odd. It’s not until the last two chapters that all your choices start to unfold, but I feel they are just detours rather than different outcomes. Despite that frustration, the story in Life is Strange is amazing.
I have to talk about the atmosphere of this game. It’s so nostalgic and really reminded me of my adventures as a kid growing up and it really makes you think about your family, friends, and what’s going on around you in your life. That small country life is something I grew up with personally and the game really hit home with me. It sucked me in every minute despite the slow start I had to push through. The entire game is so touching and full of emotion, it’s one of the best video game stories I have ever seen, but still doesn’t top Soma. This is a story you will talk about long after the game is over and ponder over. The only thing that really annoyed me about the story is it tries to do this innocent teen drama “where did my best friend go” mystery into a serious murder mystery which is kind of jarring. I loved exploring these areas out in the middle of nowhere and getting into shenanigans with Max and her best friend Cloe through their time travel events. Once the murder mystery stuff hit it was a bit of a turn-off, but it wasn’t until towards the end.
Life is Strange also isn’t the prettiest game to look at — it’s rather ugly. The game has a nice watercolor art style, but the game’s technical level is a first-generation Xbox 360 game at best. The textures are muddy and awful and the character models are terrible. This is just a downright ugly game, but the story and characters keep your head out of that. Overall, this is worth every dime and all your time invested.