Please note: This review may contain minor unavoidable spoilers regarding the plot of Life is Strange.
So, with most games I play, I know at least a little bit about what the game will entail before I start. In some cases, I know a lot about games before I play them. When it came to Life is Strange, I knew one thing about it. I knew that it was supposed to be awesome. Beyond this, I knew literally nothing about it. Nothing. Not the gameplay, not the story, not even the names of the characters. I have very deliberately avoided every review and video about it anywhere.
I’m very glad I did.
Going into Chapter 1, I had no expectations, which meant that when things made no sense whatsoever, I was fine with it. Then I finished the chapter, and still didn’t have a clue what was going on. And I was fine with that. I had some questions, and one or two ideas as to the answers, after 1/5 chapters is perfect.
Then Chapter 2 happened, and there was just more of everything. I started developing (pun intended) my ideas about what was going on more completely, though I’ve still got no clue whether I’m right or not. There is a scene between Max and Chloe, after which I thought what a good way to end the chapter, but it wasn’t the end, and then something even bigger happened. And I have no idea if it was avoidable. I suspect the event in question can be avoided, but I’ve not gone to confirm it yet.
Chapter 3 told me a lot more about what was actually happening, and also changed my opinion on one or two significant characters. But the questions raised near the end of the chapter about the nature of both causality and choice. That was a major reveal at the end, which really demonstrates the consequences of your actions.
Chapter 4 carried on right where 3 left off, and I was rapidly and repeatedly punched in the balls with this new reality. We got to the point where we were asked a critical question, and just because I’d figured it was coming didn’t lessen the impact. Things continued (or didn’t) throughout the chapter, and then, in the space of less than 30 seconds I had both an IT WAS YOU!? moment and an OH MY FUCKING GOD DID THAT SERIOUSLY JUST HAPPEN moment. And then the damn chapter went and ended.
Then there was Chapter 5. I mean, I just finished playing this a couple of hours ago, and I’m still not sure what was happening for most of it. I am certain that the entire thing was a mindfuck though. And then that decision at the end. I walked off to get a drink so I could have a moment to thing about things.
So, to speak of the game mechanics, there is only one. You can reverse time. Minor ability, not useful for much. Except everything. They have found a great many mechanics to this power, and it’s a deep part of the story, and is the only part of the story which isn’t really explained yet. There are so many different things that you can do with it.
I should also confess here. There is a part of Chapter 4 where I spent at least 10 minutes trying to find something I needed, when all I actually had to do was to rewind time to put something back where it was. This was not a problem with the game. This was a problem with the halfwit playing the game.
Another of the reasons this game is awesome, is that it is just so beautiful. It’s not photo-realistic, but if that’s what the real world looked like, it would be awesome. It’s wonderful. It just is.
Apparently, there is a season 2 in development as well. My personal hopes for this are that it will take the same basic premise, reversing time, but in a different place with different people. How they make it feel fresh the next time around, that is something that I’m not sure about, but I am confident that if they have the same team working on things, then they will do an excellent job of it.
For anyone who knows me, even a little bit, I am not the sort of person who will ever end up crying on stream at a game. I still haven’t. But I did feel some tearing up at the end.
I think the thing I regret the most about this game is that I can play it all together. I wish I’d picked up this game as it was released, so that I was forced to wait in mental anguish to find out what was coming next.
If you have not played this game, then you need to have played this game.
Go and play it. Now.