Everyone, at some point in their life, has wanted a do-over.
If you haven’t heard of LIFE IS STRANGE, then you’re in the right place. If you have, and you’re just looking to validate your reasons for buying it, you’re still in the right place.
Telltale Games took over the episodic adventure game industry by storm with The Walking Dead. There were plenty of games before it, such as remaking Sam and Max, Back to the Future, and more… and while they’re good games (I personally LOVE both Sam and Max and BTTF) they weren’t what got the community’s eye on Telltale. It was The Walking Dead that really did it.
With the community now growing to games like Borderlands and Minecraft Telltale “adventure” games, Dontnod Entertainment decided they were going to create their own game. Without using a current series as a background, they created LIFE IS STRANGE. It was a game you probably didn’t even know existed back in January when all these new games were coming out, it was a bit of an under-the-radar game. But it had the legendary Square Enix behind it, so people did take some notice.
And for those of you who haven’t taken notice, I’m going to tell you why you should.
Dontnod’s new adventure game easily achieves, if not surpasses, the majority of the points Telltale Games try to hit.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting Telltale Games down here. I love every last one of their games. But LIFE IS STRANGE takes a fresh, completely original story and concept, and applies it to the episodic adventure game genre – this is what the majority of gamers these days claim to want.
The story of young Max Caufield and Chloe Price is absolutely amazing. To give you a very brief synopsis of the plot, Max has a strange dream involving a lighthouse and a tornado destroying her home. She wakes up in the middle of class, and after a few more events, learns she has the ability to rewind time.
You take the role of Max in this game, and we hear every single thought, monologue and consideration that she makes when making decisions in the game. This is immersion overload – players really become attached to “their Max” knowing that when she makes a decision, she can process it and decide whether it was the right choice for the player or not, much in a way that Clementine in THE WALKING DEAD was supposed to… but didn’t quite hit that mark.
But then you add Chloe to the mix – her semi-chipper, semi-emo best friend. The two personalities clash and make the player think in even more ways. First we hear Max’s personal opinions, but now you have an outside source giving their opinions – peer pressure. This changes our perspectives once again – can you handle making your own choices based on Max’s internal monologue, or will you listen to the angel/devil over your shoulder urging you to do something else in the name of fun? And what are the consequences of your actions?
Like every other episodic game out there, decisions you make will have lasting impressions on the whole game. In LIFE IS STRANGE, though, the choices you make may seem irrelevant, but are apparent from episode to episode, unlike other games that make this claim, but sometimes doesn’t make it too apparent how your choice is affecting the story overall.
For example, one of the decisions you make is Max’s Tree.
In Episode 1, you have the option of watering, or not. In Episode 2, if you did not water her tree, it dies. However, if you did water it, it survives. Straightforward, right? It gives you the notion that you need to take care of it every episode. However, if it survived Episode 1, and you water it again in Episode 2, it dies from being over-fed.
… Wait, what? Seriously?
The game expects you to fall into patterns, then throws you a curve ball. And it’s a simple thing like a tree. This simple object depicts a massive choice-based system, and we don’t even know what the outcome of it will be. After all, as of this writing, the game’s not even over yet.
This doesn’t even take into account the fact that you can interact with dozens of people, each with their own vibrant, stereo-typical and yet life-like personalities and characteristics.
If you’re a fan of the new adventure genre that’s come out, you’re-
… hell, if you’re not PLAYING THIS GAME and call yourself a gamer, you’re doing something wrong. The story, the characters, the atmosphere… this game NEEDS to be played.
You won’t regret immersing yourself in the mysterious world that is LIFE IS STRANGE.
A full review of the game will be available on the Crew’s Log once Episode 5 comes out – I prefer to review all of them at once.
Episode 4 is slated for a July 28th release!