Every decision is a lifetime in this interactive drama.
Life is Strange is an epic Walking Sim that explores not only the depths of friendship but the lengths of love.
You are Maxine Caulfield, gifted eighteen year old photographer who has earned a scot-free scholarship to a private academy in her old hometown, Arcadia Bay. According to her diary Max is absolutely thrilled to have been accepted to Blackwell Academy despite having some slight reservations about returning to her hometown.
When Max was thirteen years old her parents moved from Arcadia Bay, Oregon to Seattle leaving behind Max’s best friend, Chloe Price. All of this is typical and difficult enough but Max feels immense guilt due to not only the timing of her move but her lack of communication with her old best friend. You see, shortly before Max and her family moved her best friend Chloe’s father died in a traffic accident. Leaving the grieving family behind, Max built her own teenage life in Seattle and hadn’t given it much thought until she returns to the small port town.
After only being in school for a few weeks Max has a bizarre and intense nightmare about an upcoming Tornado that is due to hit the town and things just get stranger from there.
The school – which has an ecosystem all itself is where you begin, waking up from a Twister dream. Once class is finished you find yourself roaming the halls of the academy talking to the locals and seeing a barrage of Missing Persons Posters for a beautiful and popular student of the school, Rachel Amber. Life is Strange wears its Twin Peaks and The Killing influences on its sleeve hard and it’s glorious. Aside from the Rachel Amber mystery, Max has her own mystery right around the corner.
After class Max heads to the restroom to basically have a panic attack when a grisly scene unfolds between strangers unknowing of Max’s presence. After the events play out, Max finds out she can reverse time and even finds herself back in her classroom earlier that morning. This new found power and the rekindling of an old close friendship hurtles Max and her best friend, Chloe into a cross dimensional psychological thriller that takes on teen suicide, anxiety, depression, bullying and abuse in a way I have never seen accomplished in a video game before.
I do have two “quote worthy” things to say about Life is Strange so I’ll just get that out of the way now.
Life is Strange, barring some sort of miracle gift from the gaming Gods, will be this website’s game of the year.Uh me, I’m the one saying that
Life is Strange is not for everyone. In fact, it’s such a true Walking Simulator it makes Until Dawn look like Call of Duty.Also me.
Few games have captured the magic of novel so effortlessly. The town of Arcadia Bay itself is like it’s own entity. Not unlike Richard Rusdo’s titular, Empire Falls or Stephen King’s old haunt Derry, Maine. The game is subtle yet devastating. Not to be thought of as devoid of all laughter, there are just as many fun and genuine interactions that will leave you aching for one more chance at your own teenage years. One more slumber party, one more last midnight joy ride with your best friends before you all go your separate ways.
As far as gameplay is concerned it’s a pretty simple and straightforward exploration game. You walk around the campus, the diner, other local relics and speak to everyone. Taking photos of interesting things you see along the way. There is literally no combat and really the only difficulty that comes from the game is the morality of the choices it leaves you with. Fate is a cruel bitch and whatever you take from her, she makes up for with a vengeance. It controls nicely and many of the scenes of the game are hand painted, giving it a surreal and satisfying autumnal glow.
The voice acting is absolutely flawless and the soundtrack is mellow, melancholy and wonderful. With artists such as Mogwai, Alt J and Syd Matters. For any of my platinum trophy hunters this game is an easy A – the only tough part about the trophy is how long the campaign takes (around twenty hours).
Which leads me to literally my only gripe with the game and I hardly even mean it. Playing out in episodes – a total of five – the fifth and final episode really goes for the feels and overstays a baby hair too long, bordering on cheesy but it’s barely a complaint. Half of me wanted to stay with these characters even longer after the story had concluded anyways. Also visually, while not obvious at the beginning of the game, towards the end when the water works really start pouring in, the immersion is broken with a few scenes where character’s mouths don’t move during cutscenes and tears are no where to be seen despite your character bawling. It’s barely anything and easy to look past.
If you go in with an open mind and not expecting a quick paced game this game will stick with you forever. I know my first person shooters will never understand but I’m thankful to have experienced this story.
Overall: 99% Platinum