The guys that brought you Remember Me are now making their second game, Life is Strange. Dontnod did a lot of great things in this game, but the game isn’t without its flaws. We’re going to break all of them down for you in this review. In this episodic adventure, you’ll play as Max Claufield, an 18 year old who has a passion for photography and recently got accepted into the best photography program in America. This being an episodic series like the familiar TellTale point and click games will yield consequences based on the choices you make and the aftermath will affect how the story plays out.
The hardest thing about these episodic games for players is to build a connection with the main protagonist so that you could actually feel the choices that you make matter. Dontnod , the developer of the game, manages to make this work and you as the player will feel an instant connection with the main character Max. She’s very likable and you could tell early on that she’s a very shy, timid girl who still hasn’t found herself quite yet. We do know that she’s a Senior at Blackwell High School and manages to secure a full scholarship to attend a photography program with one of the best photographers in the country. She moved a couple years ago to Seattle and is now returning to her old school in Arcadia Bay, Oregon. We quickly learn who’s who early on in the game. We see that she has some cool, nerdy friends. There are also the typical “cool kids” at the other end of the spectrum. Early in the game we discover that Max has the ability to rewind time, a very useful ability for any high school student to have. She discovers this while overhearing a gunshot being fired during a fight in the girls’ bathroom which escalates very quickly. Max steps out to intervene but to her surprise she reverses time to the beginning of the morning. With Max’s newfound power, she can change all the mess she’s made and has the ability to save the girl before the fight gets out of control. This becomes the main stepping stone for this game – it separates it from the TellTale adventure games and gives its own twist to the genre.
The gameplay is typical of the episodic adventure game genre where exploration is key and players have to interact with objects and other non-playable characters (NPCs). When selecting objects, we hear Max’s thoughts, and some of her dialogues could actually be very funny. They really capture the feel of a teenage girl in high school with all the typical drama. The rewind ability that Max possesses changes the gameplay tremendously. In Life is Strange, you have the ability to see both outcomes of the story and then decide which path you want to choose. But beware, after you choose a path you will be stuck with that decision and all the consequences that comes with it. This new mechanic brings a whole new element to the table and really changes the way you’re used to playing games. Each big decision still has that tense feeling. The great new element to the game is a welcome addition and it hooks you very quickly.
The characters are mostly likeable and relatable to the average high schooler. Voice acting is top notch. These characters have a very natural feel to them especially Max, and that is a very good thing since you will be hearing a lot of her voice . A main problem the game faces is the lip synching. It’s just plain awful. At times the characters’ mouths will be moving but no voice will be coming out of it or vice versa. It’s definately one of the biggest flaws of the game and it really ruins the experience. With the next 4 episodes coming out fairly quickly, I doubt they will get this fixed which is a shame because it really takes you out of the game. The graphics are also different than anything else we have seen before. It has this light oil painting feel to it. It’s certainly different from the TellTale comic book style. When Dontnod made Remember Me, many people recognized the great soundtrack they had. With Life is Strange, music is still a big part of the game and this game has some of the best background music ever in a video game. The various tracks are so catchy that some of them will actually have you go look them up so you can listen to them on your own. Life is Strange is very cinematic and feels like an episode from a TV show or a movie.
Life is Strange does a great job setting up the game with good characters and great plot in the first episode, titled Chrysalis. We can tell there are mysteries in Blackwell High School that await some detective work in the episodes to come. We can expect far bigger problem for the city to face. The game’s length is also typical of many episodic adventure games, where players can expect to finish around 2 to 2.5 hours, depending on whether or not you want to interact with EVERYTHING. The next episode will release sometime in March 2015. Stay tuned with FilmGamesEtc youtube account for the full trophy guide. Did you guys play Life is Strange? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below and for all your news for Life is Strange keep it locked to FGE!