LIFE IS STRANGE

This interactive game relies on choice-and-consequence narrative.

This time we have Life is Strange, which is an episodic drama graphic adventure, telling you the tale of one Maxine Caulfield, and the events that unfold at Blackwell Academy, a fictional school in Arcadia Bay, Oregon.

Life is Strange has received phenomenal feedback from people, its reviews are ‘overwhelmingly positive’ on STEAM. The first chapter released on 29th January, 2015 and the fourth series is out with a grand total of over 18,000 reviews. That’s high, very high in case you didn’t catch that. We normally don't get to see responses like that unless there’s something there, something noticeably different, and in this case, that would be the focus on character arcs and story plots over puzzle mechanics. The game is published by Square Enix and developed by French studio Dontnod Entertainment, a game development studio co-founded by ex-Criterion, Ubisoft and EA Staff. Dontnod Entertainment’s previous (and first ever) game,Remember Me was also cherished by many, but in underwhelming numbers, which is why they filed bankruptcy, and turned to public funding for their next project. The developers ran into a lot of trouble with their first game at the publishing stage, because they decided to go with a strong female lead instead of a male one, until Capcom finally decided to publish it. Even after setbacks, they stuck to their guns and got another back, because that’s what they thought worked for their titles. This time, they broke the mould!

Life is strange is a graphic adventure played from a third person perspective. It introduces you to time manipulation, where you can rewind and redo events between sequences crossed in checkpoints. The developers had already worked on this principle in their previous game. Every time you rewind time for an event reset, the details previously provided can be utilised later on, and anything that was added to the inventory, remains in the inventory. It’s been fitted with what is popular with point-and-click narratives as well, a polarity system. This means that all your choices and actions will have short-term reactions, or long-term consequences, which may or may not be to your liking, but you would have to play to see how things unfold.

The game starts with Max, a grade 12 student at Blackwell Academy, witnessing the murder of a girl and rewinding time to change things. With each episode, you learn more about Max, what’s happening to her, what mysteries surround Blackwell, and the intrigue that follows closely with the investigation of such events. There is an overarching segment that flows through the game relating to Max’s dreams, which feature an upcoming storm, crashing into a lighthouse, and the meaning of this recurring nightmare. It’s an extremely rich plot line and the game has been called the amalgamation of other beloved titles like Hard Rain and Twin Peaks. Most of the budget was spent on writing and voice-acting, both of which are exemplary in the slow pace of the game. There are a lot of character interactions, which is all you need to know. Given the plot of the game, shedding out any details would be ruining the experience. A hint of what to look for, the cardinal idea of time manipulation mechanics and the character that was created to move through it seamlessly should be enough to whet your appetite. This game is a must play for anyone who likes time manipulation, strong female protagonists and intricately designed plotlines.

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