Life Is Strange is an episodic graphic adventure video game developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Square Enix‘s European subsidiary for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Linux, iOS and Android. The first installment of the Life is Strange franchise, the game was released in five episodes periodically throughout 2015.
- Great story. Well written dialogs and fleshed out characters. Artistic visuals. Good soundtrack.
- The rewind feature makes the game too easy, especially considering there are not too many “game” elements there in the first place.
It’s tricky being a teenage girl, and though I’ve never had the personal experience being one, I do get where the game is coming from. Life is Strange (Rs 900 on Amazon.in) literally takes the strangest bit of any person’s life, i.e. the teenage years, and spins it in a multi-threaded yarn of drama, sci-fi and mystery. Normally the result of such a concoction would be quite questionable, but Life is Strange wins hearts with its charm.
Max Caulfield, your in-game persona, returns to her quiet home town of Arcadia Bay to attend a course on photography at the Blackwell Academy. Of course, things aren’t what they used to be in this small town and Max is in the middle of it all, as she’s trying to re-kindle her old friendship with Chloe, discovering the town’s dirty secrets and trying to prevent a major calamity that will be hitting the town soon. The good part is that the game balances all these elements beautifully and revolves it around a narrative that makes the journey that much more interesting. It helps to have the ability to turn back time too.
The rewind feature is the biggest differentiator in Life is Strange, which works like a cheat ability to rethink your decisions and unlock new or better consequences. The rest of it is quite like what you’d expect from a modern adventure game – a genre that has been made relevant again by Telltale games. But unlike a Telltale adventure, Life is Strange is not really about the gameplay aspect of it. Narration takes the lead here and the gameplay aspects are more about exploration and conversation rather than solving a puzzle or hitting the right switch to progress. That may be a turn off for some, but for me the story was engrossing enough to forgive the lack of gameplay tropes.
Not that it’s completely devoid of user interaction; Life is Strange quite heavily on the directions in which you take the conversion or the actions you perform at a given time. Max’s chemistry with certain characters, the reactions and eventually the outcome of the story depends on the actions you select. Like I said, you do have the option to turn back time and select another action in case you’re uncomfortable with the decision you made, but that too is limited only to that particular scene. Once you move on to the next area, your decision is set in stone.
Life is Strange uses art to its strength to give the somewhat simplistic visuals a highly creative look. The set pieces are limited, interaction more so, but the hand-drawn look of the game makes any screenshot picturesque enough to be a desktop wallpaper. The soundtrack more so, with some great acoustic tracks from some well known indie artists. The look and feel goes very well with the theme of the game, which is about the teenage years and all the confusion, angst, rebellion and lifelong bonds that are formed out of it.
Life is Strange is more of an interactive film, than a game. But the thing is, it’s a really good film. The characters are convincing, the situations – as far-fetched as they may be – are relatable and the game does leave you curious enough to try a second play through. And that’s more than what I can say about many other adventure games out there.