The first couple of hours spent playing episode one of Life is Strange aren’t exactly selling the concept of the game. Life is Strange is an interactive game experience from the same studio that brought us Remember Me. It’s split up into 5 episodes and each one of them is released as a digital download every 2 months of so.
Life is Strange tells the story of a teenage girl who suddenly finds herself capable of rewinding time. But what could have turned into a generic time travelling adventure ends up being a meaningful journey of discovery. One that gets more interesting as different events continue to unfold around our young protagonist.
What makes Life is Strange stand out and makes it worth ploughing through the first episode is the story. A story that is so remarkable that it makes the time rewinding powers almost seem like a supporting role. Many of us will no doubt relate to some of the struggles that the main character, Max, interacts with on a daily basis. Perhaps this is one of the reasons developer Dontnod, offers to share resources in-game for those who feel like they might need help dealing with similar issues.
Albeit sometimes it feels forced, the dialogue between characters is no doubt some of the best found in modern games. Get past the sometimes annoying way that teenagers seem to speak to each other these days and you’ll be rewarded. A lot of the first episode is naturally focused on showing Max coming to terms with her new powers. The three episodes released after focus more on the human interactions and how they are affected by the choices Max makes both by how she reacts to other characters and the way she chooses to user her powers.
It’s really interesting to see that choices players make for Max really do have an impact later into the story, for once. Max literally has a hold on life and death as she continues to save some of other characters from the cold grasps of the Grim Reaper. Some of these choices come with consequences and most of the times players will not even see them coming. The use of the rewind power may seem like a way of cheating some of the worst outcomes – those soul crushing split decisions that Telltales are now famous for. Instead Life is Strange gives players the option to see how choices affect the life of characters in the short run, but it still manages to surprise in many clever ways further down the line.
Even with her powers, Max is still only human and that is clear during the many times she has to come to terms with making some truly shocking decisions. But the worst surprises aren’t the ones that are right in view. It’s how fragile trust is and the fact that, throughout the course of the story, it is authority figures who often are the biggest disappointments. In life, adults are usually seen as characters that have grown, people who have learned from their mistakes and naturally would want to help a younger generation to make the right choices. In Life is Strange, many of these typical authority figures are often letting down the students that they are supposed to protect and guide. This results in characters around the same age as Max feeling utterly helpless when faced with making the tough decisions.
It certainly helps that Life is Strange creates a pretty accurate depiction of a typical high school scenario. One where the popular kids are doing drugs, drinking and often get their jollies from tormenting the not so popular kids. It’s fascinating to see all of this happening from the point of view of someone like Max. She possesses a power that can improve the lives of those she has started to care about. But seeing her reconnect with her old friend Chloe is charming and a good reminder of a time before society relied so much on the Internet to try and forge friendships.
It’s surprisingly easy to discuss Life is Strange and everything that it manages to cleverly incorporate within the story. What is even better is the realistic manner that it manages to portray some of the more delicate topics like mental issues and bullying. With only one episode left to be released, now is the perfect time to download the other four episodes and experience one of the best game stories in recent years. Just be prepared to make some impossible choices and face some harsh outcomes.