Life is Strange gives a strange twist
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“Life is Strange,” developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Square Enix, is an interactive graphic adventure, and is an exceptional game. While private school dramas are common and overused, “Life is Strange” takes it to a new unique level that makes an overused setting and situation creative.
The game is available on Steam, a digital game store for Windows, the Xbox 360, and the Playstations 3 and 4. The first episode, Chrysalis, came out Jan. 30th while the most recent, Polarized, came out just earlier this week.
“Life is Strange” starts out with a high school girl named Max Caulfield, who decides to move back to her hometown of Arcadia Bay, Oregon from a year at Seattle. Max decides to finish her education at a prestigious private school for the arts, Blackwell academy. The game takes place during the week of Oct. 7, 2013 – during this week, she finds out she has the ability to warp and rewind time. Max realizes her powers during a period of her photography class, and passes out with a vision of a gigantic storm approaching. Shortly after, Max also meets up with her old best friend, Chloe Price, by accident, after she was almost shot in the bathroom by one of the game’s major characters (Nathan Prescott) only to be saved with Max’s rewinding powers.
After reconnecting with Chloe, the two begin to realize that something is wrong in the town.
Max and Chloe from Episode 2
When it comes to the finale of the game, Polarized is a complete disappointment to the ending. The ending of the game shows a huge plot twist – it’s not Nathan Prescott that’s the antagonist, but the photography teacher, Mark Jefferson, who ends up shooting Chloe and kidnapping Max. It’s revealed that he had manipulated several people, including the Prescott family for their money to obtain drugs, expensive camera equipment and a place to hide his victims. Using her ability to warp through time using photos, Max hops through time and space to help bring back her best friend and arrest Jefferson for his repulsive crimes. As she alters time, Max begins to get weaker and this is when the game goes downhill.
This part of the chapter gives an awful name to “Life is Strange”, where the universe around Max is falling apart – buildings are distorted, Max doesn’t mind Mr. Jefferson is a creep and can even be hinted they’re in a relationship, and nothing makes sense. At one part, the game reflects on different choices Max has made, where she meets up with several characters who are repulsed with her for manipulating time selfishly for Chloe, or even when she saved other characters. This is where the game points out that Chloe was supposed to die, since she has so many encounters with death throughout the game. She dreams of all the things Chloe and her have done since she came back, but also of being kidnapped and manipulated by her friends and teacher. Absolutely nothing makes sense, it’s fast paced and not very interesting, just confusing.
When Max wakes up from this nightmare in the heat of the storm, Chloe is there and is given the chance to sacrifice Chloe or Arcadia Bay. The ending does not explain anything. Throughout the game, a ghostly deer is theorized to represent a missing teen, but does not confirm or deny this. It also does not explain Max’s powers or clarify the possibility of a hinted same-sex relationship between Chloe and Max in most timelines, while the developers hinted that it’s there in most endings even if the game did not explicitly show it. Currently, they have no plans to make a second “Life is Strange”. The last half of the chapter was rushed, disappointing and confusing.
The game is excellent when it comes to character development – depending on who you talk to with what choices you’ve made, it shows realistic characters. Almost every background character can be interacted with at more than one point, making it much more interesting if you want a break from the main story line. The major characters are realistically planned out, showing they aren’t as innocent or malicious as they seem. The game clearly shows how the characters have made mistakes, grown, and shows fantastic writing to explain a character’s actions with their past.
The game uses high symbolism of the Butterfly Effect, a scientific theory that states that even the smallest decision can cause a drastic effect in the future. A great example of this is when Max warps through time to stop Chloe’s father from dying. Max goes back to the future of this reality, only to learn Chloe’s whole body is paralyzed from a car crash, where Chloe begs her to help her overdose on her medication because she’s not expected to live and she does not want to burden her family with bills they can’t afford anymore.
There are small annoyances about the game dealing with graphics. When their hair is wet, it shows the wet texture, but the hairstyle doesn’t change, which is largely noticeable. The characters are also a bit expressionless compared to the emotional and passionate voice acting, which kills the vibe of the more emotional scenes.
If you’re into horror, mystery, drama and time loops, “Life is Strange” is definitely a good game for you, even with a questionable ending. The game is rated M (Mature) for violence, drugs, coarse language and disturbing content, so be warned.