Platforms: PC, PS4, PS3, XBox One, XBox 360
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
I had just played the first two episodes of the Game of Thrones video game (which was bloody awesome by the way!) but I wasn’t too sure about Life Is Strange. I was still fairly new to the whole episodic style of games and also knowing that this game had been funded by a small budget kinda put me off a bit. But boy was I glad that I gave it a chance! Despite the few flaws it has, I’ll tell you why! (Don’t worry, there aren’t any spoilers here!)
Life IS as strange as it can ever be in this lovable graphic adventure game. It takes you through a wonderfully gripping story line and looks at the lives and stories of many characters in a small town known as Arcadia Bay.
You play as the young female protagonist, Max Caulfield. An innocent teenage photography student where the story starts off by appearing to be an extreme version of high school drama. As you play through each episode, you notice that there’s a bigger picture. Each decision you make has consequences and this just makes it all the more exciting when you’re presented with a load of options to choose from!
Personally I do wish we got to know some of the side characters a bit more, for example Rachel Amber but that’s not really something I’d down vote a game for.
At times, you’ll find yourself presented with some comedy, and sometimes when you don’t expect it! So it’s not serious business all the time and it certainly takes the edge off things at times.
All the supernatural elements (i.e. rewinding time and other things I won’t spoil!) in the game all come from the character’s inner conflicts that arise in each episode, which I thought the developers did very well in showing.
I thought Dontnod did a great job with the last episode and at answering some of the questions you’ll inevitably be holding onto throughout each episode.
There’s not much to say about the gameplay other than it’s main mechanic. It completely revolves around time reversal. Rewinding time has been a favourite of mine in games ever since I played Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
You basically rewind time to find out answers and figure certain mysteries. It’s a very simple mechanic where you press a button to rewind and another one to rewind faster. You can rewind as many times as you like and as a result you can choose different decisions if you make a bad one. Some decisions you can’t change unless you play through the episode again.
There are some parts where you have to rewind otherwise something bad might happen, like well death. So you gotta go back to choose a different decision.
The music is really calm and soothing, which contrasts what the game is about. It doesn’t drown out the dialogue and it makes you understand that Arcadia Bay is a quiet place where mysterious things occur.
Voice acting was decent throughout but there are some notable cringe worthy moments. The voices could have been much better if the tone of some of the characters weren’t flat, or inconsistent (emotionally). However you can certainly feel the emotion when things start to get heavy.
Graphics (including animations/effects etc)
Two words. Lip syncing. Oh Dontnod…this did bug me to hell during the first episode! At times it was like watching ETs telepathically talking to each other. Yeah it’s a low-budget game but it shouldn’t be this bad in a story focused/cut scene heavy game.
During an interview with Eurogamer at EGX Rezzed 2015, the co-director, Michel Koch told them “We decided when we started the game that most of the budget should go towards the writing and voice actors – they were really what was important.”. I’m glad that they were honest with the whole thing but when season 2 comes around, I really do hope they work on the lip syncing more. Although to be honest I kinda got used to this by the end of the second episode, so I tried not to let it detract from the other good elements this game has (Michel was right in saying that you don’t care too much in the end).
The animations were pretty smooth most of the time and I didn’t really have any issues with it. There are a few times where you notice that they could be better but you usually become too focused on what’s going on in the scene. They aren’t as polished as it could have been but there are other qualities it makes up for.
I absolutely adored the style of the game. It’s not a realistic, but more of an impressionist style. The textures were all hand painted, which I think gives it more of a personal feel to it.
Overall, this game provides you with a fascinating story and an unforgettable experience and it has truly moved me. There is a deeper meaning behind the game and realising what it is (*cough* *cough* a certain scientific theory in episode 3), makes you engage more with the game. Yes, this game is hit hard with the lack of lip sync quality where it seems like you’re watching a bunch of C-3POs with some added cringe worthy moments. But it bounces back with its out of the ordinary story and memorable characters and it certainly more than makes up for it. I couldn’t seem to put the game down, unless it was time to wait for the next episode to be released. I definitely recommend this game if you can get past the issues it has (which every game has), especially if you’re a sucker for a good story!