Life is Strange is an episodic, story-driven adventure game where the choices that you make and their consequences are more important than skill or strategy. It is played more as a stunning interactive story than a traditional video game.
Max Caulfield is a photography student who returns to her hometown of Arcadia Bay to attend Blackwell Academy. She learns she has the power to rewind time, enabling her to stop an attack on her childhood friend Chloe.
Life is Strange is set in a high school, and focuses on the emotional turmoil that the characters go through. Though they seem at first to be high school stereotypes, the further into the story you go, the more flaws, vulnerabilities, and depths are revealed. The relationships are portrayed as sweet and, when accompanied by the game’s portrayal of a person’s pain, are utterly believable.
The game’s hauntingly beautiful atmosphere is evident from the first episode, where the landscapes and detailed surroundings create a vibrant world in which the characters and story can thrive. The mix of indie music and the acoustic soundtrack adds another wining dimension.
Life is Strange allows you, as Max, to interact with characters as well as objects that range from being crucial to the storyline to things that have been added just for fun. The game’s main selling point is the ability to go back in time, and you can trial and error your way to the correct answer.
However, the “butterfly effect” also comes into play, because your choices decide what path your story takes, and the tough decisions you make can have long-term consequences .
Despite its disappointing conclusion, Life is Strange succeeds as an interactive visual novel, and sets the bar for story-driven games. The first episode is available on Steam for free.