Life Is Strange

I have fond memories of being a child and getting a ‘Choose your own adventure’ story. If you’re unfamiliar, here’s the premise: You are the hero of a story, after a couple pages you’re given a choice, if you pick path A, maybe you’ll have to flip to page 63 and find a lost cavern of gold, but if you pick path B you might end up on page 84 with Pirates on your aft, or you could pick C and end up falling off a cliff to your doom – which would be the end of the story. This continues on through the whole book. If you were a straight-laced, goody goody playing by the rules you just continue on, even if you don’t like where your choice lands you. But, be real, if you had the power to back up time and change a choice you made, would you use it?

That’s the selling point on Life is Strange. It’s basically a multi-episode Choose Your Own Adventure video game!

You play Max Caulfield, a photography geek enrolled in high school at an academy in the Pacific Northwest.
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Max’s wall of photos

Going about your daily activities you stumble upon the truth that you can unravel time and go back a little while, making new choices, being an everyday hero – or wise-cracking bully, it’s up to you. But this isn’t so shallow as, say, Blinx the Time Sweeper, rewinding time in a level and leaving no consequences. No, chaos theory says any small change is going to cause a large difference later, and we see that effect in Life is Strange. If you choose to “do the right thing” at one point in the game, you may face some retaliation for it in later chapters – at which point there is no rewinding. Oh how it makes me miss my CYOA books.

Graphics
Did you notice this is produced by Square-Enix? So, of course this game looks and feels amazing. I feel like I’m playing an upgraded version of Shenmue at times in that it’s so detailed and there are plenty of extra items that I can look at, which even though they don’t do anything to push the storyline along, are an integral part to making this world come alive, and they completely succeeded. It wasn’t until I stopped and looked at screenshots that I realized just how much love was put into this.
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I feel like I could see myself in this game.

Compare these graphics to anything on the PS1 and be amazed at how far things have come. The display does a good job of staying informative without being distracting. If you see something you can interact with, there’s a pencil scribble over it which gives you a heads up. Rewinding time is shown by a spiral that highlights the last decision you made, and the game will allow you to back up to any point in the conversation, not just locked into single points in time.

Controls

The controls were smooth and straight forward, very easy to use, with the shoulder buttons being used to reverse and fast forward time. The only issue I had was if there was multiple items right next to me it wasn’t always easy to select and interact with the one I wanted, there was an invisible reticle that didn’t always line up how I imagined, I guess. Dang it, why can’t you just read my mind, Playstation?

Overall
This is a modern dose of liquid nostalgia, mixed with a fresh story line, and a beautiful interface. It makes me look forward to the final four chapters, and can only hope they’ll continue to make, not just games, but high-quality stories of this caliber. If you appreciate a good storyline over adrenaline pumping action, I think you’d find this enjoyable. Give it a shot and then hit us up in the comments below and let us know what choice you would go back and redo!
Bigfoot
Bigfoot has been playing video games for as long as he can remember, he was weaned straight from the bottle on to a Commodore 64 and hasn't looked back since. He enjoys sampling beer and hanging out with his family. A couple of his all-time favorite games are Earthbound (SNES) and Fallout 2 (PC).

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