Reviews

Life is Strange Review

So I’m a little late to the Life is Strange party… even more so since I played the first episode months ago and only this week have sat down to finish the remaining episodes and reach its conclusion. With the recent physical release on Xbox One, PS4 and PC, it received high praise in our 2015 Round Up post from Teeny, I thought it was time to expand a little on what you should expect if you bought the Season Pass and haven’t started it yet or are considering getting the physical version.

First thing to know about the current game is that it is episodic (much like the Telltale series are), so if you are going to download it, just get the season pass to unlock all of the episodes seeing as they are all out now anyway. It may also save you some dollar! The episodes individually last roughly 2 hours each depending on how much time you spend looking around and taking everything in.

Secondly, this is a butterfly effect style game. Your choices have consequences so have a little think before making your decisions as they can have an impact later on. As the game states in one of the opening scenes ‘choose wisely’….

Thirdly, be patient. I was a culprit for trying to skip some of the talking bits just because I was really into what was happening and wanted things to move along quicker at times. The talking can be at times important in some of the choices you make so it’s worth listening.

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You are Max Caulfield, a private academy, hipster, photography student at Blackwell Academy in Arcadia Bay. You wake up after a terrible dream of a massive storm that will destroy the town in Mr Jefferson’s art class and are thrown straight in. You are instantly confronted with snarky teenagers who think they know it all and pretentious idiots who make you really glad you don’t go to school anymore (well at least at my age anyway…). After making some conversational choices and probably taking a ‘selfie’ (yes, I said selfie) you head out of class and wander the halls of Blackwell before heading into the ladies. After taking a picture of a pretty butterfly, a boy called Nathan Prescott bursts in and is shortly followed by a blue haired punk chick who confronts the chap and ends up eating a bullet. Cue super Max discovering that she can somehow rewind time and so you do in order to save the unknown lady from getting done in by hitting the fire alarm and the kids scamper off without a gun shot.

Obviously, it isn’t everyday that you learn you can rewind time. In fact… it doesn’t happen. So understandably you might be thinking ‘huh?’ and rightly so. Anyway, after bumping into your good friend Warren who lets his face get pummeled by Nathan so you don’t get hurt, you inadvertently come across the blue haired punk who turns out to be your former best friend Chloe Price. You hop into her truck and make a speedy get away. This is where you learn a little more about Max’s background and why Chloe has gone from being her best friend to a resentful, druggie, dropout who likes to act out.

The first episode sets the scene and shows Max and Chloe trying to get to know each other again which can seem a little bit pointless at first because, Chloe can be a bit of an idiot. Either way, by the end of the first episode, Max is telling Chloe all about the crazy rewind power and her vision. From there, the plot thickens. Chloe’s missing girl friend, Chloe’s suspicious step-father, Nathan Prescott, another girl called Kate being drugged at a party and videoed for the whole school to make fun of and quite a dark story follow in the remaining episodes. In the end, you have to make some really hard decisions and depending on what choices you made, some people may be alive or dead by the end of it. It also becomes clear that someone is wrong in the world when extreme weather events start happening… but why? You’ll have to play to find out!

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Graphically, it is a pretty game. It’s no Last of Us or Beyond: Two Souls but very unique in it’s comic book, hand drawn art style. Sometimes the characters mouths didn’t move when they spoke and I found it hard at times to work out what feeling the artists were trying to portray because the faces were quite fixed. It’s not a complaint, just seemed a bit odd at times when the developers wanted you to see what the character is feeling, but the facial expressions were limited. The art style itself, I really liked as it felt like a step up from the Telltale series and was quite different for a Square Enix backed title. It might not be to everyone’s taste but stick with it as it can be quite awesome at times (I would love the tornado as a PS theme, just saying). Great work, Dontnod Productions.

Let’s talk game play. It is a linear game so unless you want to replay the whole episode for things you may have missed, it worth looking at everything. It’s third person so you are constantly behind Max looking at your surroundings and certain people, objects or points of interest will be highlighted with one or two options for your to choose from. One of them is almost always look. This is worth doing at times as it might be a vital clue for later, a photo op for trophies and your journal or open up other options such as using the item. I missed a lot of photos which is slightly annoying but I will definitely want to play again at some stage just to see if I can change some of my choices so I will try and pick them all up.

Your rewind power is only available at certain points, or at least I only used mine when I really needed to and you can judge how far back you need to go back to change what you need to. On occasion you will need to do this pretty quickly so just be ready to make corrections and choices straight away. The pivotal choices you make cannot be undone which I suppose is a good thing in order to progress the story and potentially pull at the heart strings if you make what may be considered as a bad decision. But some of the smaller choices do allow the chance to go back and ‘fix’ if it ends in confrontation or someone not giving you the information you need. Make sure you do rewind if you get the option, it may help later on.

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Overall, this game is really good and I didn’t want to stop playing once I got stuck in and in the end I was a little bit of a wreck as I knew what the last choice of the game would be. After everything that happens to these characters over the course of the week and the rekindling of Max and Chloe’s friendship, you don’t want to have to make these decisions. The darker side of the story is sinister and creepy. In particular there is a hide and seek style section (which I sucked at) which was a bit freaky and although there is a button to move faster… it doesn’t seem to do much! Again, not as scary as Ellie’s diner incident in the Last of Us but this titles equivalent. I would seriously recommend this to anyone who liked the Telltale Walking Dead or similar, just because it is a really good story and although very conversational at times, towards the end things really pick up and it’s all just crazy.

It is really hard not to give a lot away and my play through might be completely different to someone else’s. It is enjoyable and the story is pretty good if you can ignore the irritating teenage slang and Max’s pretentious artistic attempts at deep contemplation of… lots of things. Either way, it’s hella fun and even though this game style is starting to get used more and more, the story holds everything together well and is a suitable length to give you enough but making you wonder if somehow they could squeeze in another episode just so it doesn’t have to be over. Both physical and download versions are available now, so don’t miss out.

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