Life is strange is a new game from Developer Dontnod, who most know from their first game Remember Me that some say bombed and others loved. Life is Strange follows a girl called Max as she returns to her hometown whose style and overall look hasn’t changed, but the people who live there have changed drastically. Not even a month into living in her hometown she gains the ability to reverse time, as if fitting in wasn’t hard enough, and so her tale begins, a Telltale if you will.
This review is for Episode one
The start of Life Is Strange shows the main character waking up during a storm with her waking in the nearby woods next to the lighthouse. As she gets to the lighthouse something hits it and makes it crumble down onto her, causing her to wake up in her classroom. We are given some “free time” to look around Max’s desk as the lecture goes on, reading your journal and inspecting your items gives some background and information while taking a selfie will start the game off.
From that first interaction the game starts to unfold, cause and effect control the world and what you do or don’t change what happens, talking to people and what you say can change their responses and any info they give you. With the class over your head out and Max puts in her earbuds to listen to some old timey-like music and thinks to herself that she needs to cool off in the girls toilets.
Reaching the bathroom Max fixes herself up, noticing a butterfly enter through the window and decide it would be good for her project. As Max goes around the corner to take a picture another boy enters, the perv, Max then proceeds to hide with the boy shouting to himself there as if to wait for someone to appear. Someone does appear shortly, a punk-rock chic who starts an argument with the boy who decides the best option is to bring out a gun and brandish it at her. The trigger is pulled and Max is compelled to throw out her hand to try and stop what was happening, and instead travels back in time to when she was in class.
With the new ability to travel back in time Max also gains the ability to learn info, gather items then travel back in time with those new tools to change the outcomes of certain scenarios, one of them being answering a question correctly another saving the girls life in the toilets.
The story continues on from this point, but much else would be spoilers, but I will say it proceeds down a somewhat investigative game as you move between locations and people to gather information about the area, the missing person in it and gaining trust and friendship along the way with the help of your time travelling powers.
To playthrough the game the first time I took 3 Hours, looking at the majority of background items, taking pictures with Max’s retro camera and talking to the classmates. Though if you simple go through the game and don’t overanalyse the game can last you just over 40 minutes.
The gameplay in Life is Strange is very similar to that of the Telltale series of Story/Adventure games, where you move about locations, finding clues and trying to progress the story with whatever you find. You control the character with WASD and using the mouse to look around and interact, with “Look”, “Talk” or “Photo” which are all self-explanatory. You also use the mouse to select conversation options when talking with people, with left and right being a good or bad reply and up mostly being a clue or piece of information you gathered beforehand.
There isn’t much of an inventory system in this game, you merely pick up a key item then it is used minutes later. Besides the key item you pick up you can also take photos of several locations, objects and events that are the games achievement/trophies, as well as plot devices to be used in later sections like a photo of harassment.
Overall Thoughts and Feelings
There isn’t much music in the game, it goes for more of an atmospheric style with the sounds of the animals and the people that populate the small town. Where there is music it is in scenes that feel empty without it or emanate from a source like Max’s earbuds or CD players that play the music into the immediate area. The music itself is well done and fits the game style perfectly and gives the character of Max more personality and depth, besides the quirks she has.
While the game uses time travel in a short burst manner and doesn’t distract from the game much it can create a plot of plot holes, one of them being the ability to keep items and photos you find and take, but then some aren’t saved like the bigger decisions. Travelling back to find the right choice and the correct sequences to take can be rather enjoyable and add to the investigative and puzzle sides of the game.
The game adds in a skipping feature, which is sorely needed for a game with time travel and what other games like this lack, looking at you Telltale series. Once you have seen a scene, or talked to someone you can press the spacebar to skip through that part and move onto the next section, which would be nice if it was there at the start and not after you viewed it once for separate playthroughs.
Overall I give Life is Strange a 4/5, it’s a great twist on the normal story driven adventure game, with some amazing portrayals of young adults at higher education, showing different spectrums of personality and aesthetic. The game does lack energy at times due to the lack of music, but this can be overlooked by some. The episode itself feels short if you decide not to talk to everyone you see and I would of liked to see more interactions with objects and several different ways to solve a puzzle. Hopefully the next episodes see an expansion on the puzzles and outcome of decisions.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.