After the first episode was released for free, I decided to start playing this game. I am a big fan of Telltale Games and story-based games in general, so I gave it a shot, not knowing what to expect. Three days after I had finished all five episodes, thinking why I had never played it before, and how life is truly, remarkably strange indeed.
You are Maxine Caulfield (Max), and after some years away from your hometown with your family, you are back in Arcadia Bay to attend a photography course at Blackwell Academy. Here, the atmosphere is dense with old memories, changing feelings and deep deep mysteries.
The graphic adventure is played from a third-person perspective, and the interaction with surrounding objects is pretty straightforward, especially because you cannot leave a certain area without performing determined actions (some players could find this slightly annoying).
Without digging into spoilers excessively, Max has the power to rewind time. This, combined with multiple choices able to alter the flow of the plot quite drastically, makes this story-based game absolutely unique. What is more, once an event is reset, the information previously acquired can be used to take advantage of the situation from new perspectives and with new choices.
Characters are real people with real problems. They will get offended, fight you back, help you, love you, hate you and interact with you as anyone in real life (almost). In a gaming panorama of cliché characters, I found this really refreshing.
There are 5 episodes in total, and 4/5 major choices per episode, with a variable number of minor decisions all over the storyline. All of them will require ponderation and a lot of thinking (trust me on that.) Life Is Strange revolves around the core of friendship and what it means, and touches several delicate – and quite dark – themes throughout its unfolding. The plot is original and profound in a number of different ways, and really keeps you hooked up to the screen. Twists, secrets and revelations are never presumed or given for granted, making every decision hugely important.
Furthermore, because every turn you make the story unravels in a different direction, the replay value of this game is not to be underestimated. There are choices you will be presented with that will appear irrelevant on the spot but that – finishing the game once – will change your perspective dramatically. You may want to play this game over and over, just to find out about all the little details, but also to witness “what it would have happened if”.
The graphics are not particularly advanced in terms of pure power. Textures and lip-syncing are sometimes lacking, and that is a pity, given the overall quality of the game. Colours and shots, on the other hand, have been chosen masterfully, depicting every scene and landscape with utmost care.
The music is a huge point of strength of the game. The soundtrack features original tracks by Jonathan Morali but also music from Alt-J, Syd Matters, José González and many more. Music here is enveloping everything in a profound embrace, taking you from one scene to the other with pure joy, hopeless fear or lingering sadness. Music in the game is a living part of it. Max itself plays the guitar, and many songs that you will listen to have a particular role inside the story.
Graphics and soundtrack blend in just perfectly, composing a melancholy picture that will fill you with nostalgia, and touch the most profound chords of your heart.
Overall, Life Is Strange is a masterpiece. One of the best story-driven games I have ever played, and one that gave me real emotions in an unprecedented fashion.
Life Is Strange is available on Steam, PlayStation and Xbox.