-Really nice character design and voice acting
-Fair amount of great choices
-Very peaceful and enjoyable soundtrack
-Mouths don't really move to words
-Episode only lasts an hour
-I often found myself lost on where I was supposed to go. There's an objective reminder but you just have to keep wandering around till you figure it out.
I’ve never really been a fan of narrative based games. I tend to appreciate mechanics of gameplay over storytelling, so I was quite surprised when I enjoyed the first episode of Life is Strange. The game itself plays exactly like The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us, where you’re given choices and these choices affect the story slightly or sometimes drastically. The game alerts you whenever you’ve made a choice and at the end of the episode, it shows you percentages of players who made the same or different choices then you did.
Graphics and Audio
I was actually kind of surprised by the visuals in this case. It’s not that they were bad. They certainly have their own style along with this pencil like hovering text to highlight interactable content. But what bothers me are these very little things like mouths not really moving to the words and other small things like that. The soundtrack was actually quite pleasant and reminded me of the movie Juno. It has a very nice peaceful feeling when music is playing, but other then that there isn’t really an orchestral theme to the game.
When it comes to games like these, they aren’t going to give you the full story immediately. Instead, they release each game in episodes every couple of months. The basic premise of the story is that you follow Max Caufield, an aspiring photographer who discovers she has the power to reverse time. She uses this power to make the (what you, the player, believes to be) the right decision in certain scenarios as well as using it to help people out or screw people over. As of episode one which just came out today, that’s all we know.
The time reversal mechanic is actually kind of interesting in a game like this. Normally you’d make a choice to say something, or nothing in some cases, and you’d see how that affects the story and then if you wanted to see how a different answer would affect the story, you would play the game again. In this case, you have the chance to see multiple results before deciding which one you want to pursue, and of course the game wants you to do this by taunting you after each choice by having max say “I wonder if I should have done the other thing?”.
You would think that by letting players see all the possible paths, this would create a lack of replayability, but it actually creates more. The choices you make at the start of the game can affect the story all the way to the end, so it does offer at least 2 playthroughs worth of game time. That being said, one run of the game only takes about an hour or so, less on your second run because you’re not bouncing around decisions and you know where to go.
One thing that bothers me just a little about some of the options the game gives you, are the actually meaningless actions you take that “will have consequences”. Whenever you take an action (that you could alter with time reversal) a warning flashes saying “Your action will have consequences” Which at first did make me take the game more seriously, but then I watered a plant in my room and it gave me the same warning. That’s when I stopped taking it so seriously. Turns out that warning is just the game recording your action for a poll at the end of the episode so you can see what everybody who played the game did, and many of them don’t actually have consequences. In fact, as I was reviewing the choices I made, there were a lot I didn’t even see along the way.
I was honestly not expecting to like this as much as I did. I don’t typically care for narrative games, but when I stopped looking at this as a game, and more as a show or movie, I started enjoying it a lot more. This is definitely not what you’d call a traditional game, in fact I’d prefer to think of it as an “Interactive Experience” more than a game. I did love how realistic a lot of the characters were, they felt very believable, and the storytelling in general was really good. I eagerly look forward to the next episode which comes out sometime in March, but until then, I think I’ll play this again and change some of the choices I made.