So rather than make a review, I think I just want to make a post on really my reactions and experience in playing this episodic, story-based game that is Life is Strange. Stuff was written down pretty much as I played it, so a lot of things will lack context for those not familiar with the story.
(Yes, major spoilers ahead.)
First of all, I know I’m late to the party. I held off on buying and playing LoS mainly because I assumed it was just one of those series I could watch on YouTube and I wouldn’t be missing out of much. Well, I tried for I’d say 10 minutes of a video, only to get annoyed because the player didn’t make decisions I would. At that point it hit me as to why people still buy these games in the first place, haha. So with the Steam Summer Sale around I decided to buy this game and play it how I wanted it.
Like with most games I go into with little information beforehand, to keep my experience fresh. And I’m really glad that even at this point I haven’t really been spoiler’d or anything in regards to LoS. That being said, here are some of my thoughts…
• I always have to suspend my disbelief a bit when it comes to the high school drama because very rarely is it done right (read: realistically). As I expected, lots of cliches like the awkward nerdy crowd, the jocks/preps, and of course, blatant bullying. There were also times where it felt like this could have taken place at a college and not much would have changed – like, with the dorms and how everyone looks 20.
• I really like the art style for this game. It’s distinct in that things are clearly “painted” so that you can see the brushstrokes. Things like posters and images throughout the game also become way less detailed (like something someone whipped up in Photoshop) but that too adds to the charm. I can tell that this game would place a lot of emphasis in art and being artistic, which you can see even down to the beautiful cinematography.
• Me, being the nosy person that I am, pretty much talked to everyone and at looked at everything that I can. I feel like that helped me in the long run as you really get to learn much more about life in Arcadia Bay and make connections to its residents. I’m also glad that the game does reward you in exploring as you often get more options and decisions based on your actions.
• In talking to everyone, I also played goody-two-shoes, even helping out Victoria and her friend (forgot the name, but she’s a blondie with bangs). In talking to that friend you learn that she’s been worried over her mom in the hospital, proving that there’s always two sides to the same coin. Made me wonder what kind of baggage Nathan and Victoria have.
• I wasn’t so sure if there was going to be romance in the game. But it seems like there’s something between Max and Warren. :^)
• The unrestricted power to time travel and I use it on things like to warn someone from getting hit by a football and to have better conversations.
• With the dastardly duo Max and Chloe back in action, the main conflict in the game arises as the two to to figure out what happened to missing Rachel Amber. Meanwhile, Max also has to deal with things like the viral video with Kate, the Vortex club, Nathan and the Prescott family, David Madson, Arcadia Bay dying off, and a slew of other things. Not to mention the abnormal nature stuff going on.
• …..I feel like Chloe is such a bad influence. Making me take the blame for her weed? Getting mad at answering a phone from a possibly suicidal friend?! Wow.
• I’m so glad I saved Kate. It was definitely an emotional scene. (Being nice definitely opens more options, it seems.)
• You’d think all this weird stuff happening to Arcadia Bay would bring about more attention to the town. Sudden snow? Whales, birds and other animals dying en mass? TWO MOONS?? The place should be swarmed by scientists or occultists or whoever, lol.
• Nathan Prescott is dangerous and unstable, and yet Max has no qualms in talking to him multiple times. Well, with the way I play Max she also is fine in approaching drug dealers and just about any person I have the option to Speak to.
• As much as I don’t like David Madson’s antics, I can’t help but feel like he’s really just tryin’ to figure life out, ya know?
• Wow, Max can even time travel by focusing on photos that she’s in? That’s crazy. Also, of course it would be to save William – who, by the way, seems like a total saint compared to David.
• ….Oh. 😦 I chose to end Chloe’s life. That was definitely a tough decision…But I feel like my choice doesn’t have as much weight because I’m 90% sure Max will just rewind to fix her mistakes and wind up in another timeline…which makes me wonder you know, is there any consequence? If by time traveling you chance your future what happens to those timelines that you don’t? Like, should I even feel guilty for William and Joyce in that timeline, and the whole aftermath that follows once they find out? Time traveling is complicated.
• If Max was so close to Chloe before why did she just stop talking to her altogether for all those years?
• Even though William seems like a great guy, I’m glad the game decided to have Joyce remarry and find new love, so to speak. It’s realistic and brings up a perspective that some never even think about.
• Wow that confrontation with Frank was like wading through a field of mines lol. But once again, being a generally nice person is the key.
• The End of the World party is so cringey, wow. You’d think it’d be a bigger thing, but nope. All 30 people at the academy are here!
• OMG Alyssa how many times do I have to save you. Though the quote was a nice touch.
• I was nice to Victoria before, I will be nice to her now.
•….WTF. Did I miss something? I seriously did not Mr. Jefferson. I was really shocked. And wow, Chloe is dead. Talk about a dramatic end to Episode 4.
•…and being nice Victoria got her killed. Oh god. 😦
• This is actually the second time in the game that I was actually confused on what to do next (first being that bottle-collecting part). The amount of re-winding I had to do…
• DAVID MADSON IS MY HERO. Again, I think I had to re-do this scene like 7 times because I kept messing up, lol. I can only afford to see him get killed by Jefferson so many times D:
• It took me a while to decide on whether or not to tell David about Chloe. Ultimately, I chose not to. Mainly because I held on to the hope that I could bring her back somehow, and partially because I had no idea how Mr. Combat Vet would react, you know…
• Yes. Let’s just drive right torward a giant tornado.
• I will. Save. EVERYONE.
• I didn’t know entering the building would prevent me from exiting back out. I heard someone else yell out “Save me” but went inside as it was closer….first time I had to actually restart because I’M GOING TO SAVE EVERYONE, GODDAMMIT. And the person turns out to be Alyssa! Wow. That would have been terrible if I didn’t save her one last time.
• I chose to kiss Warren. (I also kissed Chloe, because she dared me!)
• “I know.” Cold Max, real cold.
• Oh god those dialogue options to Mr. Jefferson. We have now entered some weird nightmare-thing.
• More stealth, which I’m not too fond of. :S If real Mr. Jefferson wasn’t creepy enough…
• OMG THAT TEXT FROM POMPIDOU, I’m cracking up hahaha.
• Bottles + stealth? Hahaha nothankyou. Thankfully it’s skippable. (I bet there’s an achievement for it, though.)
• Finally, you get a nice long path in which you kind of reflect on all your memories with Chloe. I mentioned before how I felt like Chloe could be a bad influence at times, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy those special Max + Chloe moments – like the pool scene.
• However, the final decision was a pretty easy one for me to make. I don’t think I could ever bring myself to sacrifice a whole town just to be with my best friend/romantic interest. I wasn’t going to waste all the effort I made in my playthrough to really get to know and help everyone in Arcadia Bay. And, you know, I wasn’t that attached to Chloe to begin with. The ending was well done, and left a good, bitter-sweet touch to wrap up the game.
I should have played this game sooner. Actually, I’m glad I was able to have a full run-through without having to wait on the next episode. But still, I have no idea why I waited out for so long as I did. Life is Strange does so many things right that the whole experience was just incredible. The gripping story, decisions you make, music, and graphics stood out to me as its strengths. The only downside I really noticed was there there were some plot holes occasionally, and the fairly cringey dialogue trying to pass off as what high schoolers actually talk like. Another real shame is that games like these have little-to-no replay value. Once the curtains close and the smoke dissipates, the magic of experiencing a story for the first time is, of course, gone. But without a doubt, the story of Life is Strange is one worth experiencing nonetheless.