Life Is Strange – Game Based Storytelling at its Best

I’ve been playing computer games a long time, a very long time, so finding a game that completely blows me away is a surprise.  Life is Strange did just that, and then some.

The game’s website has a great description.  Life is Strange is a five part episodic game that sets out to revolutionise story based choice and consequence games by allowing the player to rewind time and affect the past, present and future.

The setting is intriguing, and the execution is amazing.  The game world is incredibly detailed but it’s the characters that truly make the game shine.  The setting is an American school so on the surface you have the usual stereotypes, from jock to geek to the popular girls, but every one of the characters is three dimensional with far more to them than their apparent role.  As you move through the game you find the stories you’d expect from such a group but mixed in are hints of far darker events.

The main character, Max, is brilliantly presented.  The mixture of her inner thoughts and how she reacts to other people perfectly paints the picture of a strong but vulnerable girl struggling to fit in after being away from the town for years.  When she managed to get someone to open up, to show a more vulnerable side and engage with her, I found myself smiling as if I was her.  Total immersion.

Then there’s the ability to reverse time (not really a spoiler, it’s plastered over the game’s description and videos).  This is handled really well.  At times you have to use it to solve puzzles, learning information or working out a course of action.  At other times it lets you go back in time a short while and change a critical choice.  Most of the latter are complex choices, each option carrying the possibility of both good and bad consequences, so getting to change your mind actually makes the game harder as you agonise over what to do.

Best of all, the first installment of the game is only £3.99 so you can try it out relatively cheaply.  There’s another four installments to come.  After finishing the first I went straight out and bought the season pass to get all the others for a very reasonable price (around £12.99 I think it was).

Are there any downsides?  I did feel that the game’s video trailer gave away too much of the first part’s story, so I knew where some of the story was going.  I’d really suggest getting the first part without watching the video to avoid that.  Other than that my only complaint is that I’m having to wait for part two, and then for the later parts, but I’m sure everyone waiting for me to get Wanderer book four published won’t have any sympathy for me there.

Life Is Strange is available on Steam, or visit the developer’s website for more information.

 

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