I'm sure all of us have played that rapid fire, describe in one word game. It can be hard sometimes, making something definitive when everything is in shades of grey. But here I am no doubt in saying, Life is Strange is an incredible experience. In a one word description it would simply be "Sweet".
Life is Strange is unique adventure following the strange encounters of 18-year-old Max and the situations that arise from her reactions to events around her. Returning to her home town of Arcadia, Max soon discovers she has the power to undo her recent actions using time control.
Max wakes up in the middle of a hurricane at a distant lighthouse, watching on as a tornado takes shape in preparation to destroy Arcadia. But lo, you are transported back to a school classroom with a photography lecture going on. Daydream, or not? Shortly after Max discovers her power; the gist of it is that Max is an amateur photographer who has the ability to control time. This irony itself is sure to give players a giggle when pondering how photographs can allow you to go through time and relive precious moments. Whether it's the party selfies or the serenity of a meadow, captured forever.
Its integration can lead to creative uses of time manipulation throughout the episode. Dilemmas are just around the corner and they will shape how Max Caulfield will grow - starting off as a simple, unremarkable girl with big dreams and hopes.
Choices here seem to matter, and hopefully will have far reaching consequences on how Max's tale unfolds. It's the story of a teenager figuring themselves out, and the rewind power must feel like a dream come true. You can go back and get revenge or maybe help out fellow schoolmates. Life is Strange dutifully reminds you that your actions may lead to good or bad consequences, and you can thus rewind and try a different tack. Although this may feel like cheating to people who have played other choice-based games popularised by the likes of Telltale, the whole premise of the game is to be able to change the past and get to a better future and thus these hints make sense. The amount of decisions you can control is far superior to other point and click games and I'm itching to see how my decisions shape Max and her relationships.
While initially it felt like Max's dialogue was too self-centered, it soon becomes apparent that this was the precise intention of developers DontNod. What else is a teenager thinking about, if not themselves? While controlling Max you can walk about, have a chat, and explore the environments around you. It's odd that you can pretty much get in the face of people and they don't seem to notice you; a reminder, in my mind, to how invisible everyone is to a teenager. Even the creative use of Chromatic Aberration reinforces the concept of how a teen can focus on nothing but what's right in front of them, with no comprehension of what may be happening outside their bubble.
As far as the time-shifting mechanics of the game go, you can undo your last few decisions while exploring the world or conversing with other characters by holding down the Right Mouse Button. While choice is not a new concept in games, the sheer amount of decisions you have to make along this single episode is impressive and all of them appear as if they will affect your playthrough of the upcoming episodes, although only time will tell of course. Life Is Strange's story has no murderers. It has no zombies. It's just a coming of age tale albeit with sci-fi elements, going through the stages of Max becoming a heroine from an introvert.
The purity of the story is matched perfectly by the background music, which all through the episode aptly describes Max's feelings and possibly her hopes. Syd Matters has done an excellent of curating the music from his original scores. Voice acting however leaves a lot to be desired. For the scenarios it creates, the acting from Max as well as other fellow actors feels truly weak. Its one thing to have created a good story, Dont Nod, but scripts matter too. I hope this gets better in the future episodes. But aside from that the game can really make you hate/love/sympathize with all the characters showcased, but they just need more life.
While this episode lays a good foundation to the upcoming adventures, it admittedly does little more than introduce the characters which will eventually help/hinder you when you need them most, but that's not to take away from what it achieves. If you love point and click games or narrative-driven games, Life is Strange is one title you will hate to miss out on. For the low entry price of $5 for the first of five episodes you can easily play it and make an informed decision on whether you would like to follow Max on her journey of self discovery. I know I will be.