Life is Strange (2015)

It's an odd title for a game, Life is Strange. It's a kind of a title, that stands out the titles like Assassins Creed, Doom or Dreamfall. It stands out because it's a statement and a saying instead of something trying to sound as cool as possible. It is also a name, that gives you expectations of something that will be a bit different.

And in a sense Life is Strange is and is not different.

See, why it's different is the fact, that it is a game about a young girl, who is insecure and shy and trying to figure how to fit in as well as how to be her own person. And she also feels a bit guilty, as she has returned to her old hometown after 5 years in order to attend Blackwell Academy in order to become a photographer, but she still hasn't found the courage to contact her old childhood best friend, whom with she's somewhat lost contact.

Max is trying to break out from her own cocoon. She's trying to take more risks, but she's afraid of what the world has to offer for her. Her photography teacher is trying to make her submit a photo to a competition, but she doesn't feel like her work is good enough.

But that's not how the story begins. It begins with a storm. A huge tornado closing in a little town of Arcadia Bay. Max finds herself stumbling through the rain and the wind towards a lighthouse, trying to get safe and then she wakes up in class.

Shaken she goes to a bathroom, where she witnesses a fellow student shooting her former best friend Chloe. She panics, but she also notices that she can rewind time. She has the power to stop her friend being killed. She has the power to make a difference in people's lives. But everything effects on everything. You change something, something else will happen. And while at first, it might look like the change is something good, something bad might follow.

A tornado, which casts its shadow over the story

So yes, Life is Strange is both different and typical. It's typical because the subject matter itself isn't anything new. It's the idea of the butterfly effect, where one small change causes an avalanche of changes, small and big. But it's also different, because of the point of view. Max herself doesn't have a moral high ground, she's just an ordinary girl, who hates bullies and wants good things for people. The story itself shapes out with the choices the player makes and some paths are a lot darker than some others.

LiS doesn't have that many locations, but they're used beautifully.
As a piece of interactive fiction adventures Life is Strange is a masterpiece. As its own, it shows how far behind Telltale has already been left, as they've been stuck in a loop of making games with very little actual interaction. There where Telltale is stagnant, DONTNOD's effort is a breath of fresh air

LiS is the kind of a game that keeps you on its grip to the end. It makes you care about the people around you. It makes you try to find solutions that feel justified in the context and even the little things you do or do not seem important, as it all effects on the dialogue you get or things that happen.

It is a story about choices, and at times even the simplest choices can end up being wrong and cause unexpected results. And then there are those really difficult ones.

Life is Strange is an excellent episodic adventure in 5 chapters, all of which have been published. It's a game I can fully recommend as the story and the game mechanics are both superb. And it's not that expensive either, shelling around 20 euros.

Available on Steam. Also in PSN store.