[Review] Life Is Strange (XBox One)

Undo. Rewind. Do over.

Don’t you wish sometimes you were given a second chance to go back in time and correct mistakes made, or make right a bad ending? Be careful what you wish for! That is one lesson learned while playing the Square Enix game, Life is Strange!

Max Caulfield moved away from Arcadia Bay, Oregon to Seattle, Washington with her family when she turned 13, leaving behind her best friend, Chloe. Five years later, Max returns to Arcadia Bay to enroll in the prestigious Blackwell Academy on a Photography scholarship.  The geeky and kind Max enjoys spending her time peering through the lens of her Polaroid camera (her chosen medium) and taking pictures of nature. Blackwell Academy, for what it’s worth, is full of the typical cliquey high school drama. Max tries to avoid it, and concentrate on what is important to her – the upcoming Photography contest, and her dreamy teacher, Mr. Jefferson.

It was a violent incident one day on campus that made her aware of a new power she had at her fingertips – the ability to turn back time. She soon put her powers to work, changing negative outcomes to more favourable ones whenever the opportunity would present itself. This newfound ability was surprising and unbelievable. Her powers worked well for a spell, and was even fun, but soon, too much turning back father time created a shit storm of negative environmental events which become hard to untangle without risking lives…and timelines.

Life is Strange is a graphic adventure game where the player is provided a set of choices that have consequences depending on the path you take. This was about the only difficult thing about the game – making choices for Max. Thankfully, unlike some other choice-driven games like the Walking Dead, there is no time limit – you actually have time to read and reflect on the decision (in the Walking Dead, they give you, like, 10 seconds for four choices – barely enough time to decode and process what I just read…). The menu system for the game is pretty easy to use and is where you have access to Max’s personal journal (which was interesting, voyeuristic) and her cellphone to receive texts from her family and friends.

Although set in modern-day, this game’s layered sub-plots and relationships between characters brought back a tonne of teenaged memories for me – the friendship between Max and her best friend Chloe, Max’s insecurity about her talent as a Photography student, taking art classes and opining about art, putting up with cliques…I saw a lot of myself in Max. Even decisions having to do with loyalties with friends (who hasn’t dealt with that?).

Let’s talk about the style of Life is Strange: gorgeous. The game’s use of light, shade and tonal gradation to emote a feeling was very effective. I mean, I could stare into those sunsets all day. The game also lingers long and takes its time, using strategic shots to set a scene. Every shot appears to have been thought out and successfully executed. Absolutely awesome.

The version I played was from the Life Is Strange Limited Edition package on the Xbox One – a gift from my husband – and it is awesome! The collection includes the entire game, a scrap book and a soundtrack CD – pretty damn cool. The music is an off-beat mix of atmospheric modern-Indie Folk, alternative and dance; Syd Matters, alt-J, Foals and Jose Gonzalez (to name a few) fill the game’s soundtrack with a sound that pairs well with the stylings of Life is Strange. I know some people won’t like the music, and I can’t say I like all of it, but I think most of it is very good.

This game was the first one I played on the Xbox One, and I have to say I am pleased with the smooth experience. No glitches at all, and everything looked crisp. Overall, I highly recommend Life is Strange. It’s available for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3 and Windows.

9/10

Life Is Strange (Xbox One)
Dontnod / Square Enix
Released: January 2015

Advertisements

12 comments

  1. I know next to no video games but I have been watching the new Lego Dimensions unfold and here is what I’ve discovered: all the walking around in video games gives me motion sickness! Does that ever happen to you?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it does, depending on the perspective. If my perspective in gameplay is in first person, meaning what I see is what the character would see with their own eyes, I can indeed get some motion sickness. What helps is if they include a crosshair in the middle of the screen that I can focus on as I lead my character around. Sort of like what you would do if you were getting sea sickness – you would stare at a stable thing like a horizon line.
      Third person perspective, where you see your character on-screen (like the back of their body), I certainly don’t experience the same motion sickness. The crosshair does not exist in every game, and is not enabled without going into the settings in some cases. I actually reviewed a game that gave me motion sickness in a big way a couple of years ago that you might find entertaining:
      https://caughtmegaming.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/review-miasmata-pc-mia-gotta-motion-sickness/

      Like

  2. I love the time travel paradox aspect, and tied with the Choose Your Own Adventure style of game play? Hells yes. I don’t game, I don’t own a console or even a TV, but if I did, this would be one I’d consider. Well reviewed, Sarca!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That Xbox One is a helluva console. My friend has one and I’ve had a wee shot when I’m over – often find the graphics quite staggering.

    Anyhoo, this game sounds interesting. Kinda reminds me of Alan Wake, GTA and Red Dead Redemption. Not sure why. Maybe cause you mention the light and those sunsets. There were moments during those games that I just stopped playing to look at the sunsets.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s