“Oh, what I would do, if I could turn back the wheel of time! How I would act different!” That’s something we wish for every once and a while. Well, there’s a shy girl, the protagonist of Life is Strange, called Maxine Caufield (Max) who has this very gift: she can rewind time a bit whenever she wants. On top of that, she sometimes has visions of the future. Cool, isn’t it?
Well it would be cool, if she had visions of future lottery numbers, but unfortunately for our young and naïve Max, she can only see some upcoming terrible catastrophes. Fortunately for others it sometimes saves them. But let’s not spoil the story.
A hipster chick’s game?
No, perhaps it would be an exaggeration, but it’s true, that the story is a lot about young college girls (not only Max) and their typical problems. “Is she smarter, and prettier than me? Did she have sex with the older, but handsome, famous teacher? Did he cheated on me with her?” And so on. Of course our young heroine (who is studying photography in a college) is always using the social media with her tablet to chat with his friends, boyfriend and parents. It’s clearly a game which knows its public.
Still the characters are very believable, interesting – sometimes funny, sympathetic or total idiots – and always well fleshed out.
Still the whole first episode serves rather like an introduction and hopefully in later episodes the story will be more about the extraordinary events which will define Max’s life and les about mundane hipster chick’s problems.
Life is Strange is very similar to Telltale’s games: it’s an adventure game, where all our choices matter and shapes the events of the story. It’s actually a lot more efficient than in Telltale’s games: sometimes we can immediately see the effects of our choices and rewind the events so that we can choose another answer. Of course, our choices will affect future episodes as well. Still with that one only being the first of five episodes, it’s not easy to tell just how much of an impact each choice will have.
The game itself is a standard third-person adventure game in the modern sense. That means that you walk around the college, interact with objects and talk to other people, but you don’t have the obscure point’n’click puzzle-like gameplay or at least those parts are very rare. There are some puzzles which you can mess up, but there’s always the solution to rewind time and make things differently, or talk to people differently. Of course this time manipulation is sometimes even necessary since you need to learn some information Max isn’t aware of first.
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Other times you can speak differently the second time if you offend someone who you would rather see on your side. It’s actually pretty funny and makes the game more interesting than a vanilla adventure game.
My own private Oregon
Life is Strange weakest part is perhaps in the graphical department. The characters looks generally okay, but the environments are a bit dated. I played the first episode on PC as well and with 3D graphics switched on and 3D looked pretty good because the textures are a bit blurred anyway. It’s not ugly, but some more refined and crisp textures would have been welcome, especially in an adventure game, where we are constantly scanning the environment. That’s especially true for the outdoor parts with vegetation (tree leaves for example.)
Promising first episode
Dated graphics aside the first episode of Life is Strange is pretty interesting and does a good job of setting up what could turn out to be a thrilling and interesting story in the next ones. Concerning the story I still prefer Telltale adventures (it’s a bit too much about hipster girls), but the time rewind mechanic is well working and interesting concept in an adventure game. Can’t wait for the next episode.
+ Great rewind mechanic
+ Believable characters
+ Story has real potential
– Starts somewhat slowly
– Hipster chicks…
– Dated graphics
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Publication: 2014 September 30