Life is Strange is a Telltale-style adventure game from the same studio that brought us the instant classic Remember Me. Remember that game? No?
I’ve completed the first episode and had a couple thoughts I wanted to write down before the second hits, mostly concerning the hits and misses of the game. The gameplay and controls are standard fare for modern adventure games. You walk around a three-dimensional world, talk to other characters, inspect items and make “difficult” decisions.
What makes Life is Strange unique is what I find so compelling and repulsive.
The main character is a high school girl who recently moved back to her childhood town to go to a boarding school upon her return. It’s aÂ perspective rarelyÂ seen in games, unless you count Gone Home, which focuses on environmental storytelling about the main character’s sister rather than the main character herself.
The game centers around time manipulation, and it gives you a lot of free reign with the powers. You can rewind any conversation or interaction and choose a different path at any time – until you leave an area, and then your decisions are set in stone. This creates an interesting twist on the format Telltale has been using.Â When confronted with a pivotal “this or that” decision point, you get to see, if you want, how both options pan out and then choose your preferred result.
The game does engage in some of the environmental storytelling of Gone Home if you choose to explore every nook and cranny. A lot of the main character’s motivations and interests are divulged by simply allowing the player to explore her dorm room. it’s totally optional but you’d be denying yourself a lot of what the game has to offer by ignoring it.
The animation and voice acting areÂ bad. Like, embarrassing-to-show-other-people bad. it makes the stiff puppet show in Game of Thrones seem deft and full of character. Lip flaps don’t align with the English voice acting at all, the voice acting itself leaves a lot to be desired, and the animation is corny and stiff. (As is some of the dialog, too.) It’s a shame because the high school drama they’re trying to play up really could use better acting and animation.Â (See: Bully)
Offering the player the ability to see how every decision pans out will cause thorough players to watch the same conversations multiple times. There’s some amount of skipping around you can do, but largely it’s a lot of rewatching things you’ve already seen. It’s not muchÂ fun.
ThisÂ reminds me: the puzzles in the game tend to revolve around the rewind mechanic, which isn’t a bad thing. But the handful of puzzles in the first episode have you rewatching a lot of the same stuff over and over until you figure out the solution, Which is a little off-putting.
All in all:
Given that the game’s characters and setting are so different, I’m excited to see where it’s going. There’s a lot of promise and a lot of “jank” in the game. I’ve purchased the full season so I’m going to see where this journey goes, but they offer the first episode separately -Â just like TelltaleÂ -Â if you want to check it out. By the end of the episode you’ll know whether or not you can handle the “jank” and find the rest of the game compelling enough to purchase the rest of the series.