Life is Strange started as a simple episodic digital release but today gets the full retail treatment. The Life is Strange: Limited Edition hits shelves today with an art book, developers’ commentary and a licensed soundtrack. While I’d love to get my hands on that, I’ve already played the game and named it et geekera’s Game of the Year for 2015. However, I only reviewed the individual episodes. This review is for the first “season” of Life is Strange.
It’s so seldom that I play a game that really moves me. Sure, there are plenty of games that I play that I think are really good or have their poignant moments but I can’t remember the last time I played a game that stuck with me quite the way that Life is Strange has. I came into it expecting to be underwhelmed but Dontnod exceeded all of my expectations and made the best episodic point-and-click adventure game on the market.
Next week marks the release of the final episodes of both Tales from the Borderlands and Life is Strange. As someone who is reviewing both games, that leaves me a choice of which game I should play first with both finales coming out this week. After playing Episode 4: Dark Room, Life is Strange proved that it is the best in class in the episodic adventure game genre.
Newton’s third law states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Put simply, for every action take, there is an opposing force pushing the opposite way with equal strength. While that’s a law of physics, Newton may as well have been a philosopher with that one. I’m not sure that there’s a law of physics more appropriately applied to life.
The whole point of Life is Strange is actions and their equal and opposite reactions. You could make the argument that all games that are designed to change themselves to fit your decisions should act like that. If there’s one thing that Dontnod has gotten right through three episodes of Life is Strange, it’s that your decisions cause real and obvious reactions in Arcadia Bay. It certainly extends beyond just little changes in dialogue too.
Chiaroscuro is an art term for the use of strong contrasts between light and dark in a composition. It’s the concept that forms the basis of most strong black-and-white photographs. No, Life is Strange – Episode Two: Out of Time isn’t presented in black and white in a literal sense. It contrasts light and dark themes to pull off emotionally impactful moments in just two episodes what it takes Telltale five episodes or BioWare dozens of hours to achieve.
With the final episode of Life is Strange, Square Enix and Dontnod’s surprise hit episodic adventure game, coming out on October 20th, I think that’s as good an excuse as any to play through it and get it all reviewed between now and the release of that last episode. Critics adore this game and review scores are getting better with every episode. My interest comes in that I find that my reviews often contradict the critics in that where critics see improvement, I see it differently. Will I see a game floated as a game of the year contender differently that the rest?
A while back, I wrote a column lamenting the loss of new intellectual properties coming from the big publishers. One of the few new multi-platform IPs that is coming out this year is Capcom’s Remember Me. It had an interesting premise and the rare not hypersexualized female protagonist leading the game. For the first few hours, Remember Me was certainly worth my past consideration as a new IP to wake up the industry.
However, the experience doesn’t hold up over time. While there are parts of the game that are very memorable, it’s certainly not the unforgettable rookie developer Dontnod were hoping for.