If I Could Turn Back Time | Life Is Strange Review


Life Is Strange is yet another of those choice dependant games that seem to be quite popular these days (thanks, Telltale).

What makes LIS stand out amongst its peers is its "Butterfly Effect rewind power" (cue Ashton Kutcher). Unlike most of the "episodic interactive drama graphic adventure" video games, LIS allows you to make your choice, see the immediate result and rewind time and chose the better option. You are not stuck in the first choice that you make. There is a catch to all this Ashton power -- once you advance in the scene, your choice is locked in. 

The Butterfly Effect | New Line Cinema, 2004

The Butterfly Effect | New Line Cinema, 2004

Life Is Strange follows Maxine "Max" Caulfield, a photography student attending the prestigious Blackwell Academy. Attending Blackwell marks the return to her childhood home of Arcadia Bay (a fictional town in Oregon), and her childhood best friend, Chloe Price. Early in the game, Max discovers she has the power to rewind time and has a vision of a large tornado destroying the town. Max OBVIOUSLY assumes it's up to her to stop the tornado and save her best friend. 

Despite the slow pace, bad acting, and SUCH SLOW MONOTONOUS DIALOGUES, LIS has a rich story and complex characters. The game chooses to focus more on its characters arcs rather than the supernatural elements. 

The game also takes on a more detective mode in the beginning with the hunt to discover what happen to Rachel Amber, a missing student (and Chloe's best friend/[possible girlfriend?]). As you uncover more clues, discover the backstories of the supporting characters (poor Kate Marsh) and slowly piece together the story, the game takes a super DUPER dark turn. (I'm talking Girl With The Dragon Tattoo dark).

The mixture of all these different elements (i.e. friendship, blossoming romance, coming-of-age, detective, supernatural and photography) really make for a fantastic game. And maybe one of the more emotionally taxing that I've played this year. (ESPECIALLY THAT LAST CHOICE, damn you Dontnod!)

As with most games, there is some setbacks and boy does this one have many. The pacing of the story changes too often within the game. Without revealing any spoilers, the ending of the game presents a huge story reveal where everything that has been building for the past four episodes finally climaxes. But then it just stops and it seems to slow down again. It goes back to the relationships and blah blah blah. The big AH-HA climax moment loses steam when you have to run away with people with flashlights. 

The voice acting is just meh (read: boring, lame, monotonous). While Chloe Price is on point throughout most of the game (thanks to Ashly Burch), the rest of the cast seems to fall short. Getting through conversations is a chore. The emotions and reactions in the voice acting often feel off or nonexistent (it's as if the actor didn't know what they should portray -- so they portrayed nothing). In episode 5, when you talk to each of the characters in the Diner is such a pain to get through.

It took me out of the game. It's a gigantic hole (read: flaw) in an otherwise phenomenal game. NOTE TO DONTNOD: IF YOU'RE PLANNING A SEQUEL, CHOSE BETTER ACTORS -- (OR AT LEAST TELL THEM WHAT EMOTION TO PORTRAY IN THEIR SPEECH).

Speaking of horrible acting.... Troll 2 | Filmirage, 1990

Speaking of horrible acting.... Troll 2 | Filmirage, 1990

Sidenote: the game has this wonderful "sidequest" of collecting polaroid pictures (since you know... Max is going to a prestigious school for her photo taking ability). It can get tedious, but I found it to be a nice little addition to Max's character. (It also inspired me to buy my very own Fujifilm polaroid camera -- I snap daily pictures of my life now, thanks to this game. If this game did anything for me (other than help me earn me a platinum), it got me back into photography. So... woo!)

Final Verdict: Life Is Strange is a unique game with emotionally-rich and realistic characters. The plot and interactions of these three-dimensional characters are the forefront in this episodic game. Although the voice acting and pacing drags the story and can hurt the experience, it remains a game very worth playing. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up for the soundtrack

Interesting take on Life Is Strange | Only watch if completed game | Spoiler Alert: