Life is Strange is the story of Max Caulfield, a 18 year old who has moved back to her former home town of Arcadia Bay, after spending five years in Seattle with her parents. The reason for this move? As it just so happens the prestigious Blackwell Academy a private school for gifted scholars is located in that very same town. She is also a gifted photographer and an introspective geek, who is still trying to adapt and fit into school life when we first meet her in the game. But this is not how the game kicks off as you are basically thrown into the thick of things at the start, without giving away too much of the story.
After the short introduction, the time travel mechanic comes into play almost immediately and becomes pivotal to your progression in the game. The developers use unique moments and opportunities in the game, wherein Max can bend the space/time continuum to set different things in motion. Or, if she so chooses, rewind time to change past decisions, many of which apparently will affect how things play out in future episodes. Not every interaction hinges on big choices though. Many conversations are given a new context after you bend space/time continuum when you learned something new during conversation with a NPC.
The way the space/time continuum mechanic is implemented actually strikes me as a pretty amazing and something we have not seen implemented a great many times in other games. I don’t think the game pushes you into paying Max in a particular way at all instead it seems to play devil’s advocate and tries to tempt you towards seeing what the other outcome would have been. Which I really enjoyed, I kept “rewinding” every chance I got to see what the other outcomes I got with the different choices I made. It is a refreshing change from Telltale’s “act now and live with it” philosophy of choice making. I also enjoy the fact that you can explore at your own leisure, and talk to whomever you want.
A lot of reviewers slammed the dialogue of the game, but to be honest I found it pretty realistic. I routinely come into contact with young adults at my job, and the dialogue in this game is really not that far off from the way young kids talk these days. So I think it might be more of a case of older folk like myself who are just a little out of touch with teenagers. I like the understatedness of the story. It’s not in your face the whole time. There is also no story changing moral choice every 5 seconds like in Telltale Games. And when there is, you can play them all out to see which one suits your decision making style the best. I love the way this story is playing out, I hope they can keep it up without messing up with the current winning formula they have.
Life Is Strange is bought to live in a water painting style, in the same vain as Telltale Games. Only difference is that DONTNOD Entertainment’s game is flushed with rich colours that makes everything stand out and the attention to detail in this game is something that Telltale can take note of. It shows a lot of love went into the art style of the game. The world truly does feel alive, but it’s also got an artistic flair which is hard to put into words. The game also absolutely LOVES its pop culture references and music, as demonstrated by its amazing soundtrack and homages to great TV cult classic shows and movies, such as The X-Files and Cannibal Holocaust.
There are only two mayor issues in the game, which is totally fixable because it is an episodic game. First the lip-synch in the game is absolutely terrible. While it is not game breaking in any way it does distract and removes some of the overall immersion in the game. Secondly the voice acting in some of the scenes can be flat and totally uninspiring, and that is where DONTNOD Entertainment can learn a thing or two from Telltale Games, as their voice acting is some of the best I have heard in a very long time. So hopefully they fix these issues by the time episode 2 rolls out. If you enjoyed the Telltale series of games then I highly recommend you pick this up as you are sure to enjoy this as well.