18th Mar2015

‘Life is Strange – Episode 1: Chrysalis’ Review (PC)

by Paul Metcalf


I’d read a lot about Life is Strange and it seemed to sound like a game I’d be interested in, which is a shame for me as I didn’t take the dive straight away until the second episode release date was announced (March 24th). This pushed me to at least try it out, and I may just be hooked already.

In the game you play the part of Max, a photography senior who finds she has the ability to rewind time, which comes in useful when saving her old friend Chloe from being shot by the local spoilt rich boy. Reconnecting with her past it’s not long before she finds herself dragged into the mystery of a missing student and a future that seems to be leading to the destruction of Arcadia Bay.

It’s easy to say that Life is Strange feels like Twin Peaks, probably because that may be the developers main aim. There are hints throughout the game that this is the case, especially the license plate on one of the cars shouting out the shows name itself. In truth though while this is a good throwback to the iconic show, Life is Strange takes inspiration from other sources such as Donnie Darko and Alan Wake too which also focus on the darkness of human nature. All this comes together to create a game that feels like a truly impressive experience.

Max is a nerdy teenager and a bit of a loner, which makes her perfect to be unseen in a small town where plenty of people plenty of dark secrets, and probably connections to the missing girl, or my overactive mind seems to think they do anyway. I couldn’t help but be impressed as I made my way through the first episode with how the makers of the game have created such a fleshed out character in the form of Max, somebody that you truly care about. You want to make the best choices for her, though she herself ends up giving reminders that some of my choices may be nice, but self-sacrifice may damage her future if she takes the blame for everything or manipulates people too much.

Life is Strange is a game where you get a lot wrong, but with Max’s power you have the ability to fix that. The fact that the mistakes are inevitable and you can’t escape from them the first time does hide a certain linearity in the gameplay, but there are choices that do seem to change the story a lot, which is different from what Telltale Games do with their smoke and mirrors. We’ll have to see in future episodes though whether choices made really do make the changes that are being hinted at, and just to get to the games different endings.

I’m looking forward to the second episode which is being released March 24th. I bought the first episode to try the game out and get some first impressions, but I’ll be buying the whole season to make sure I stick with the game. The fact that I’m going to do this shows that the first episode did exactly what was needed of it. As the player, it is easy to connect with Max and Chloe who look to be together in this adventure for the long haul, though where it will take them, who knows?

With an indie soundtrack and plenty of pop culture references (which are “hip”, and yes I say that sarcastically) sometimes Life is Strange borders on trying too hard and a little self-aware, but it manages to pull itself together where it matters and catches the players attention, pulling them into the story. A real contender to Telltale Games crown Life is Strange shows just how to start an adventure game and make it a truly beautiful experience while and all the time being intelligently original in its process. Now to see if the rest of the episodes manage to replicate what the first episode did…I for one hope they do.

***** 5/5

Life is Strange Episode 1 is out now, with episode two coming March 24th.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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