After spending last year re-playing KOTOR II, this year my goal is to play some more contemporary games. I’ve picked up Life is Strange, a light fantasy, graphic adventure game for PC and console; I’m playing it through Steam.
My husband has been bugging me to play this since it came out last year. He loved it, and our taste in story-based games usually aligns pretty well, so I’ve been looking forward to playing it as well. (Also, it’s published by Square Enix, which is a recommendation in itself.)
Our protagonist, the doe-eyed Max, has just moved back to her old hometown to attend the prestigious Blackwell Academy with its excellent photography program.
While she may have anticipated the cliques of Mean Girls there, she did not anticipate reuniting with her old best friend Chloe under bizarre circumstances, or a school mystery involving drugs, surveillance, and a missing girl…or suddenly getting a supernatural power that lets her rewind time.
While the first episode is mainly about Max figuring how to use her new power, the answers to how and why she got it in the first place are slowly building over the series.
I actually watched my husband play the first episode last year, so I already knew the essence of the game. I’m up to the third episode now. The gameplay is pretty easy (I’m playing without a mouse, even), and the story and characters are very interesting.
Player choice is another interesting component of the game. It appears that many different actions and dialogue choices affect the storyline of the game. It’s even a little ominous when something as simple as watering a plant pops up a little icon at the top of the screen saying “This action with have consequences.”
Of course, because Max can rewind a limited amount of time, you can go back and re-do most decisions. In fact, sometimes you have to try things multiple times, simply to gain more information. It’s kind of a fun safety net. I feel like I’m still learning how to use Max’s powers to best advantage, like there’s more I can get out of the game if I apply them better.
I like that there are a small amount of cinematic scenes, but most of the time the player is in control. And the shift between them is pretty seamless.
I do find the voice acting to be a little awkward at times, trying too hard to make the teenage slang sound natural. But the scenery and character design are wonderful, and the soundtrack really fits nicely and adds another level to the mood and tone of the story.
Max is a good protagonist, and she’s surrounded by a wonderful supporting cast. The game does a decent job with diversity of characters, too, especially for being set in an elite boarding school. In particular, there are many rounded female characters with different personalities and body types, from the science teacher Ms. Grant to the punk, blue-haired Chloe.
I also like that there’s not too much romance going on, and what there is, is subtle. Max is friends with an adorably geeky boy named Warren, who clearly likes Max but is stuck in the friend zone. I’m doing my best to get him out, but Max is kinda oblivious. (Well, she does have a lot on her plate right now…)
So in short, this is a fun game I’d recommend. I’m looking forward to finishing it soon and seeing how all my decisions throughout the game turn out in the end.