Life is Strange is one of my favorite games of 2015. It is an episodic story in which Max Caulfield has the ability to turn back time. It took a while for Life is Strange to finally release, as the publisher of the game rather had a male keyrole instead of a female one. But, just like their first big game Remember Me, Dontnod choose for again a female lead.
In the first episode of this five-piece game we are introduced to Max Caulfield, an 18-year-old photography student that is not the greatest at keeping relationships going. She loves being on her own, but it is up to you to make her at least a little bit more social. You decide how she reacts in conversations and which objects she will use or look at, anything to make sure this ‘ninja’ stands her ground on campus.
She needs you, because after the starting scene in which she happens to be in a nightmare where a huge tornado is about to crush her town, she has to make the decision to either help a person that is going to be shot by another student, or chose for her own safety. The following two hours you will have a lot of these moments: jump in between, or stay in the background and only make a picture of the situation?
Most of this game is spend both at Blackwell (her school) and the house of her friend Chloe. The times at school are very nice, as you can read through Max’ diary, look through her stuff in her dorm and talk to other students. There are a lot of posters to look at around the school, because this game is also about an America’s Sweetheart-like type of chick called Rachel Amber who has been missing.
In the first episode you learn how to use Max’ new ability to rewind time, but in the later episodes you will learn that it is not just fun and games. The way you turn back time can have big impact on other peoples lives and as Max is struggling more and more with her powers, you might ask yourself if she can undo her rewinds forever or if there is a limit to it. Especially the fourth episode will present you with heartbreaking realities, so beware!
But please do play this game, as it is absolutely amazing. It is very atmosphering thanks to the very relaxing soundtrack, but it is also beautifully written. It is mostly about friendship, family and growing up, but with that girl being missing there is also lots of mystery to uncover. The voice-acting is excellent, but the one thing I have trouble with is the lip synching. Dontnod knows about this
Dontnod knows about this issue, but decided it would not really be possible to change a lot about that when the other episodes followed. And the voice acting is so terrific that it definitely makes up for that. There are preppy girls that speak very over the top American and they really use modern words that fit their character very well. And my favorite moment is when Max thinks about something, and you hear her do the voice of Smeagol (Lord of the Rings), which is hilarious.
As in all episodic games, your decisions have impact on the story, but the impact is not major. The same goes for Life is Strange, although there is one moment of life and death that really makes an impact emotionally. And sometimes there is no going back in time, as the game will continue.
Some people like other episodes better, but my favorite one is chapter four. It is so much about the friendship between the two girls, and there is such emotional shit happening, it is marvelous. The fifth one, which is the ender of the season (Dontnod has not officially said there was going to be a second season, but I bet there will be as this was a huge success), is pretty strong too. You will have to make the most difficult choice ever in this game.
Also, the fifth episode is a bit quicker. In other episodes the game made you look for specific objects before you could continue, but this time it is all about the fast pace so there is not really any type of gameplay like that involved. It is amazing to see how much information your brain has been processing throughout the game, cause everything comes together in this finale: the storm in Arcadia Bay, the friendship with Chloe, the disappearance of Rachel Amber, a few characters there were always a bit mysterious… It is an awesome ending which will definitely stick in your head for quite a while.
The only advise I have, is if you would play it by yourself. Of course this is a single player game so you’ll have to, but I mean: make sure your boyfriend, girlfriend, children, colleagues or wherever you play this, do not disturb you. This is a very emotional 12-hour journey which you absolutely have to experience to the fullest, on your own. I hope you will pick this very movie-esque game up soon and enjoy it as much as I did.