I had the pleasure of playing Life is Strange yesterday, and I was not disappointed.
I picked it up because I heard great things about its cinematic storytelling and gameplay. I had a really great experience with this type of game a month ago when playing Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, which totally won me over. It had great visuals, pacing, gameplay, and most of all, told a rich, emotional story (without the use of language, to boot).
Life is Strange is an honest portrait of the teenage mind–one that doesn’t hold back in its reality the way that most media tend to. You are able to revisit what it was like to experience the thoughts of a blossoming young mind, full of complex emotions. You face socially awkward situations, make friends and enemies, and even face serious issues such as bullying, drug use, and even unwanted pregnancy.
It is almost like a high school simulation. But then, it isn’t. Right from the start, there is something strange going on. As you go through your seemingly normal day at this prestigious private academy, something magical is happening around you. The gameplay encourages you to take your time and live your life as if you were there, while simultaneously compelling you ever forward with its mysterious storyline.
It is the perfect blend of the mundane with the fantastical.
Screenshots doesn’t do this game justice, because it’s not really about the story (yet). It’s about life, about each moment you spend in it, and how your actions matter to you and to those around you. This game doesn’t shy away from real issues, either. In fact, it seems to embrace them and puts the player in the shoes of those affected by them. Even with it’s potty-mouthed, black-mailing, pot-smoking crew of characters, I would urge every teenager (and beyond) to go and play this game. Screw the Mature ratings! This is their world anyway.
This is a very different type of game for sure, but it works. With Telltale games pioneering the way for these short, episodic games–and now other studios following suit–these story-driven games seem to be a developing trend. I am looking forward to what comes next.