Review: Life is Strange – Chrysalis
February 4, 2015 \ Uncategorized \ 1 Comment
Life is strange; it can give you things you never expected to be possible. It gives you opportunities to see things in a new perspective, to live your life in new and different ways. It isn’t always that pretty and it doesn’t always make sense, but accepting new things in life is something everybody should do. Let’s start with this interesting first episode of the game Life is Strange.
Enter a storm, wake up in class.
The game starts with a big bang since the first thing you’ll encounter is a deadly storm nearby the lighthouse. You’re in panic and you try to reach the lighthouse, following the path however is hard in the eye of the storm. Once you reach the lighthouse you’ll see a huge tornado going straight to your town… Short after you realize you’re powerless, you wake up in class. What just happened?
You control Max Caulfield, a young student at Blackwell University, willing to become the next big photographer. This young girl is confused by her stormy daydream and needs to take some time for herself in the toilets. Walking towards those immediately makes a lot of things clear. Max isn’t a popular girl at Blackwell, she calls herself the Blackwell Ninja and wants to hide from others in any way possible. Maintaining human bonds isn’t high on her priority list.
This short walk to the toilets also made clear how you’ll control the game. Life is Strange is a story based game where the player can make certain decisions. You an choose to look at all the posters, talk to other students or just go straight to the toilets. Whatever you’ll choose, every choice has some consequences. Your encounter in the toilets is one of those bigger choices in the game.
Discover something new
It’s not safe in the toilets.
Short after you enter the toilets, two other characters walk in and seem to be in a huge fight. The fight gets out of control and one of the two characters got killed in the discussion. Max freaks out and activates a power deep inside her, she teleported back in time and ‘woke’ up during lecture in class once again.
This first experience of rewinding time is very confusing for Max and thus also the gamer. You don’t really grasp what’s going on. After a second test in class, you know for sure that rewinding time isn’t some kind of daydream; it’s your power. Max Caulfield isn’t a simple student anymore; she became an everyday hero in just seconds.
Rewinding back time and trying to stop the shooter from killing the other girl is the first puzzle you need to solve in the game. The game is filled with all kind of puzzles that can only be solved using your newly discovered power to rewind time.
If I could rewind back time.
So rewinding time is big part of the gameplay but it also affects the decisions you have to make. At certain points, the game will offer key moments where you’ll have to pick the best solution, according to you of course. After you made this decision, you’ll hear Max thinking about the consequences. Was it really the right thing to do? Or should I rewind time to make the other decision? This doubt is the strength of the game. The game makes you think and rethink everything you do. Making the right decision is also important for the final outcome of the game; ‘wrong’ decision will not be tolerated and will hunt you down later in the game.
Gorgeous setting, weird characters.
Life is Strange wasn’t easy to develop at all. Developer Dontnod Entertainment (Remember Me) faced some troubles to find a publisher for their project. Lucky for them, Square Enix took the risk and published the game. Although that’s great news, it doesn’t mean that Life is Strange is a perfect just yet.
The game is divided in five episodes; Chrysalis is the first and serves as an introduction. Since you play as a high school girl, most characters will be other girls. The boys we’ve met so far were a little strange or dangerous. Since the game is story based, the story really needs to be good and it is. The narrative is filled with little Easter eggs and it’s amusing to read, same goes for the environment. The setting is just gorgeous, spending time in Blackwell feels a little like taking a short break from the real world. The problem is the character animations.
The biggest problem in the game is that it’s hard to take characters serious. The lip-syncing is often way off, talking to them often feels like talking to robots. The style of the game doesn’t help with this either. The characters aren’t that realistic but rather look like perfect mannequins. It’s a shame that the developer didn’t invest more time in getting the facial expressions and lip-syncing more accurate. It’s not a game killer but it kills some of the incredible vibe. Truly a shame!
All in all this first episode of Life is Strange is a very nice introduction to what still has to come. Rewinding time and doubting while making a decision are key features that turn this game into a fun experience. The lack of real emotions in the characters can make it harder to understand them but don’t let this be the reason for not trying out the game. Life is Strange is a great experience and held me captivated the entire time. I can’t wait to see what the second episode has to offer!