Life Is Strange (PC) Early Review

Life is Strange is an episodic adventure game by Dontnod entertainment – most easily compared to recent Telltale games, or those by Quantic dream. The only other game that Dontnod have put out is 2013’s Remember Me, so I have to say I wasn’t expecting a massive amount while going into Life is Strange, only doing so because it seemed to be getting some fair praise from friends.

Bare in mind that this is only an opinion after playing Episodes 1 and 2, but honestly Life is Strange has handled those 3 or 4 hours well enough to make me believe that they won’t fuck the rest of the game up.

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Life is Strange is broadly about a teenage highschool girl with the power to rewind time.. It plays out otherwise like any other narrative driven story/adventure game, with the exception of less “I wonder what would happen if I picked…” moments – That said, as soon as you leave an area, those choices are locked in for good. These choices seem much bigger and more powerful than some other similar games which give the illusion of choice, compared to other games which may briefly kind of mention it later on down the line, Life is Strange is filled with characters that seriously know how to hold a grudge. Anything you say can and likely will be used against you later on, so you’d better pick wisely and choose your friends and enemies well.

The story so far has been fantastic, a tale with hints of heroism and mystery, nothing is quite as it seems at face value, and being able to uncover the story yourself, both through the actual scenes and through just scanning the environment for clues and information, is really rewarding.
The game really manages to capture school life well for most gamers, Max (the main heroine) is a slightly outcast and unpopular student who has to deal with everything from teen love to bullying, as well as picking friend groups and all other sorts along the way (Still not sure whether I should have gone to that party or not, it’ll be filled with all the ‘cool’ kids though…). There are lots of side activities and segments you can engage in, but the game won’t really mind if you skip these – but in the event that you don’t even notice them, the game can occasionally refer back to them and act as if you took a particular stance on it, even if you don’t have a clue what’s going on. I was also surprised during certain bits in the story which flowed without my intervention, and actually made me believe that my choice didn’t matter – only to be surprised later in the post chapter screen when all of the available options get laid out to you, it’s through this screen also that will make you realise just how much you missed on your first play.

Photography is sort of important, especially if its a guy who just smacked his balls.
Photography is sort of important, especially if its a guy who just smacked his balls.

I’m not sure i’d encourage repeat plays in a game like this, when I tried it with TWD it made me realise just how little my choices really mattered, but I feel like in LiS there are enough clear branches that it might genuinely be really interesting to give it a second whirl, just to see how things pan out – Though this will of course lead to much repeat dialogue and events, some of which aren’t that fun;
Some examples include a lengthy bottle gathering segment in Chapter 2, with max having to scavenge 5 bottles for a friend, and they are of course hidden about the place (the campfire is by the rail tracks for anyone else who gets stuck there, I know I did.).

Life is Strange is fairly minimal with its music, yet the soundtrack kicks in at just the right time for key moments, and in a fairly organic way, such as when max puts her headphones in, or for the chapter ending.
I’m somewhat torn on the graphical front, the environment, special effects (mostly depth of field / bokeh) and lighting are pretty good, however majority of the characters can occasionally look goofy and undermodelled (in terms of poly count), it’s not that the characters look bad persay, but rather that the environment and special effects seem so well done that they feel sub-par by comparison.

I can’t attest for the rest of the game at this point (i’ll update when It’s finished), but for now, Life is Strange is looking like a strong candidate for game of the year.

Verdict:

Life is strange genuinely manages to feel more like a playable movie than a video game, and for a game in this particular genre, that’s some high praise. Choices have an impact, the characters seem to have genuine life to them (and bitchiness, mostly bitchiness) and the camerawork and art is fantastic.
The worst bit about it is that it isn’t all out yet.

Approximate Game Length :~2 Hours per chapter for first playthrough
Actual Worth / Steam Price: £16 / £16 = 1.0
Should you play it :Definitely.

Rating: 5 / 5

Interested? (You should be.)

Check the trailer for a pretty good feel of what the game is like