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Life is Strange

This week I finished playing Life is Strange.  I enjoyed it, but there were also some face-palm moments.  I’ve tried to avoid spoilers but I am gonna tell you about the game so… be warned and that…

Gameplay:

This is Max.

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Image from BagoGames (https://www.flickr.com/photos/bagogames/19530583178)

Max is the protagonist.  She is an ‘ordinary’ teenage girl until she sees her best friend, Chloe, get shot.  Max then discovers that she can rewind time and, in doing so, save Chloe.

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Image from BagoGames

 

The rest of the game is, essentially, a series increasingly complex time shifts to save Chloe:

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Courtesy of pinterest

Chloe can’t seem to stop hurling herself into death’s embrace.  Seriously.  Stop it Chloe.  Chloe!  Don’t play on train tracks Chloe!  Chloe!  Why do you have a gun Chloe!  Chloeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Story:

When they were kids Max and Chloe were inseparable.  Then Chloe’s dad died in a car accident and Max’s parents moved, taking Max with them.  Chloe went from carefree to f**** you.  Max didn’t stay in touch.  Max feels guilty about this.  Chloe keeps making Max feel guilty about this.

Chloe’s other friend has disappeared.  They are trying to track her down.  But there’s something unsettling beneath the surface and they keep poking it.  Hmm…. more opportunities for Chloe to die and be saved.  And repeat.

Characters:

Chloe: the world hates me, everyone leaves me.

Max: I feel guilty about everything.  It’s probably all my fault.  Except this big hole in space and time.  That’s probably nothing to do with me.

Max and Chloe’s friendship is both loving and, frankly, not.  And this does lend the whole thing some believability.  Though it will also make you want to slap them for their endless stream of self-obsession.

Everyone else: mean girl, pregnant girl, cruel rich boy, nice geek boy, ex-military PTSD, drunk principal, harassed mom… you get the idea.

World:

Twin Peaks meets high-school drama.

So – what did I think?

I did enjoy the game but I could have done without some of the breathy voice acting and the face-palming lines… ‘Can I pet the doggy’… What?  Who says that?

There’s at least one clunky section that involves spending an inordinate amount of time searching for glass bottles.

I wish we could do more in the game.  It’s meant to be realistic, so, ok – we can’t fly (just time travel?), but why, oh why, can’t Max climb over small obstacles?  And I get a little fed up of the dialogue-trees.  Too much of this game relies on the dialogue.  On the one hand, I really like this feature because the power of conversation is often overlooked in other games, but on the other hand good dialogue is what remains unsaid. Too much is said in this game/story.

I’m not convinced that this is a game.  Definitely knocking on the interactive story door.

The pace gets better though.  As the game crescendos you really want to keep going and uncover the truth.  And this thing had me in tears by the end, so for all of its flaws, it’s done a lot right.

Should you play it?

Probably.

Why?

I don’t know.  I’m bored now.  Go procrastinate somewhere else.  Maybe by playing the game…

Author:

I lecture in creative writing, games and education. I write. I make the odd game. I work with the odd school to make learning more like playing a game...

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