Life is Strange: Season 1 Review
Life is Strange is an episodic adventure game, developed by DONTNOD Entertainment and published by Square Enix. The first episode was released in January 2015, and the next 4 episodes were released periodically throughout the rest of 2015, before coming to an end in October.
The game play within Life is Strange is done from a third person perspective, and is mostly done with the character Max Caulfield. One of the biggest mechanics in the game is Max’s ability to rewind time, this is used right the way through the game to help solve puzzles and to get out of sticky situations, whilst the plot also heavily focuses on it. Like with most adventure games, you will have the chance to interact with lots of objects in the world, as well as open dialogue with other characters.
A lot of the game will be dialogue based with the main characters and some of the smaller roles within the story. At times throughout each chapter, you will have to make important choices that will affect the way the story progresses and ultimately, how the story ends. Whilst the dialogue between the characters does have a lot of choice, there are only a few select moments that have a real effect on the story, the rest of it purely is there to add a little different flavour to each person’s play through.
I was a little let down by the game’s graphics unfortunately. Even though I was playing on 4k resolution with everything turned up to the max setting, the graphics were very poor for the most part. The animation of the characters movement is done to an acceptable standard, but the facial expressions and lip syncing between the speech and character is just completely off and does look very bad. The game’s lighting effects are done very well though. I particularly like the scenes at the seaside as this really shows off some cool effects from the light.
Life is Strange has one of the best stories in video games that I have had the pleasure of experiencing. The story does start out quite slowly but as you progress through the chapters it quickly gathers pace and excitement as the characters develop into almost life like beings. You gain a real sense of connection with Max and co as you get towards to the end of the game. The plot touches on some very taboo subjects which are often frowned upon but I really liked seeing them be put out there to give them more awareness in the world we live in. This is one of the few games that really had an emotional effect on me at the end credits; the story was absolutely breath-taking. This should be one of the games used as an example to show that gaming can have a true emotional effect on anyone. I would be surprised to hear anyone say after finishing the game, that they weren’t left affected for a good period afterwards due to the power of the story line.
The spoken dialogue and sound effects throughout the game are all done very well. Personally I think all adventure games like this in the common day need high quality voice overs for it to be an enjoyable experience overall. The game has some really awesome music in too with all of it coming from licensed artist, whilst I had not heard of them before; I’ll definitely be checking them out now.
The majority of the game play in Life is Strange is not difficult per say. There are some scenes which require you to use stealth mechanics in order to escape certain situations, but the main focus of gameplay is on the puzzles and dialogue. The puzzles are all fantastically designed, and you should always remember you have your rewind time ability as this plays a crucial role in a lot of them. I did have to refer to a wiki a few times as I was lost as to how to progress at points but the rest of the time I was able to figure it out for myself. There are no absurdly complicated puzzles when you compare it to other modern day adventure games like Dropsy for example.
I finished the whole series of Life is Strange in about ten hours. I did play the first two chapters when they were originally released, but I personally need to play episodic games like this one after another, as I just lose track of where I am in the story. I replayed the first two chapters on my second attempt and finished the rest of the game off, with collecting a couple of optional achievements along the way. I personally think the length of each episode to be the right amount; you are looking at about two hours for each one, which is definitely more than enough for you to get an enjoyable experience out of each.
Technically I had no problems whilst playing the game. You can play the game with a controller, but I would personally opt for the keyboard and mouse given the type of interaction you will have to make throughout your play through. The game runs at a steady 60fps almost all of the time, as there are no real taxing graphic scenes.
To sum up, I think Life is Strange was probably one of the best games to be released in 2015. Even if you aren’t a fan of the adventure game genre, Life is Strange will definitely still be an experience you need to see for yourself. The story alone is brilliant with some great voice acting. If you can look past the poor graphics you will certainly enjoy your time with this game. It is certainly my favourite adventure game of all time though. You can pick up all five episodes for $15, 99 which is a really good price for the quality of game on offer, or if you are still on the fence, you can pick up just episode one for free.