Episodic games have become a huge part of console gaming lately, without me naming any specifically I’m sure you could all think of one due to the massive success they’ve had. Coming out of the shadows to debut their first attempt at this genre are the developers, DONTNOD Entertainment, with a highly anticipated title called Life Is Strange. This first episode, “Chrysalis”, will have to hit the ground running in the hope of engaging gamers enough to buy into the whole series.
Life is strange, we can all agree on that, however for photography student Max Caulfield that is a major understatement. In order to study her favourite hobby, she’s wound up back in the town she grew up in, Arcadia Bay, and finds that social awkwardness isn’t going to be her only problem. Not long into her return, something weird is happening and it takes a rather traumatic event for the realisation to finally hit home. Max can time travel.
Yes, you are gifted the power of rewinding time in order to affect the goings on in her rather crazy life. The cool part is that whether there’s a conversation taking place or something’s going down, the power to change it belongs in your hands. For example, if a person becomes aggravated with Max after a poorly chosen answer, a quick rewind and you can make a seemingly better choice.
That’s the beauty here, given the amount of interactions within this episode you could make a whole load of trouble and problems for yourself that you might not realise till later on in the series. And on the flipside, there could be a few allies to be had or good deeds that’ll pay off in the not too distant future, even if it doesn’t seem likely at the time.
There are a couple of puzzles that need solving along the way, which if I was to find any real negative point for this opener to the series I’d say it needs a few more of these just to change things up. They do start to become more frequent so that can only bode well for the next episode. I don’t wish to spoil anything but time is obviously a key factor in these and even when you realise that, you may need to get your thinking cap on and have a good explore of the area.
It’s all fine and dandy making Max a time traveller but this on its own wouldn’t draw the gamer in to be enveloped by the story. By getting to know the other characters in the game like the former best friend Chloe, the love interest and the nutcases, it becomes clear that there’s an awful lot going on. They’ve managed to cover most angles for what both male and female teenagers encounter on a daily basis as a student. When you add all the pieces of the story together in your mind that you’ll have uncovered, everything feels intertwined.
This is not your average interactive adventure; in fact it is much more than that simply because the focus seems to heavily weigh in the favour of the story. It’ll be up to the player to decide how much they invest an interest into the episode and in turn this will determine the amount they get out of it. Every component is present to get an insight into the way Max sees other people and the kind of characters they really are based on there interactions; whether they are friends, enemies or even frenemies of hers.
Life Is Strange shows off a lovely array of areas, views and even just the artwork hanging around. The characters are built up at a steady rate with more in-depth discovery at hand for those who wish to spend time on it. Sure it can be all over in two hours but you are free for the most part to move at your own pace to fully get to grips with what’s going on. The question is, do I want to play episode two? Quite frankly, yes I do because I look forward to seeing the potential consequences of even my smallest time meddling antics. If you add to that the mysterious happenings alluded to within Chrysalis and I’m ready for more.