Jan 28, 2016

Life is Strange Impressions


I don't believe in reviewing episodic content for how it stands on its own when it comes to gaming - There's either not enough content to really feel like you've experienced much, or each episode slightly differs from the one before it, generally creating a different foundation for the next. Even if new gameplay mechanics aren't introduced, it's important to see how the story and gameplay mechanics pan-out before reaching a final verdict. With that said, I still think it's possible to give minor impressions, so that's what I'll be doing for Life is Strange: Episode One.

The obvious comparison will be to Telltale's catalogue of recent success. Whether it be The Walking Dead or Tales From the Borderlands, Telltale has nailed it as far as interactive storytelling goes. However, if the first episode of Life is Strange is any indication, they're going to need to start playing catch up real soon.

The first thing of note is just how nice Life is Strange is to look at. It's colorful, and the game world feels like you're on an actual school campus, with corny posters in some corners and graffiti in others. There's different "cliques" that each feel unique, but blend into the setting as they should. The game itself feels polished - something you may not get from other games in the same interactive storytelling genre.

There is a lot here that feels like you've been there before. Playing as Max, a young girl with a passion for photography, you'll interact with various characters and inanimate objects, all while making some "tough" choices along the way that let you know they'll have consequences. Being the first episode, you obviously don't know what these consequences are, and they seem extremely lighthearted when you make them, which is why I don't think a review is entirely possible. I think some of them have potential to loom large - and until those moments arrive, I won't know if Life is Strange succeeded or failed.

The biggest difference between Life is Strange and its counterparts is the rewinding mechanic. After having a weird vision of sorts, Max gains the ability to rewind time. You'll use it to save a life, "accidentally" ruin a popular girl's day, among other things. Most notably, it allows you to alter conversations that you have with people if you make the wrong choices, or say the wrong things. There is no timer here. It gives you flexibility on what you say and don't, and really makes you feel like your choices matter more because of it.

The story doesn't have much of a chance to get rolling here, but it creates a foundation that Blackwell Academy isn't everything it seems, and recreates a friendship with Chloe, one of Max's old friends. You get a small glimpse into school life, and Chloe's life, but not much else. I'm hoping episode two will be story heavy to make me care about the characters and what's to come afterwards. So far, I've enjoyed my time with the game, and I can say that I'll be back for another episode at least.

*From here on out, I'll probably write some small impressions on each episode, and maybe a real review once I've finished the entire game.