Life is Strange
After five years away from her hometown of Arcadia Bay, Max Caulfield returns to study photography at Blackwell Academy. As she returns she finds that the town is reeling from the disappearance of Rachel Amber, a popular young girl that attended Blackwell. In a bizarre series of events, Max is reunited with her estranged best friend Chloe Prince and also comes to learn that she can rewind time. Can she save Arcadia Bay and find Rachel Amber at the same time?
Are episodic adventures becoming the new big things? Because I want more.
First and foremost, I'm going to address the story. The overarching story is incredibly interesting and I really felt like they surprised me. Further, the ability to search and dig without consequence (thanks time travel!) has allowed me to come up with crackpot ideas about where the story is going. They opened themselves up to heavy character development in the next four episodes: What is really going on with Kate? What does Chloe have up her sleeve? What the hell is Mr. Madsen doing? Oh yeah, and when are they going to evacuate? I feel like there is a lot of room for Dontnod to blow me away. And I hate that I have to wait until March. The main complaint I've seen on various forums is that the writing seems "off" in some way and that the characters are just incarnations of stereotypes. Dontnod is a French company, so I have no problems giving them some leeway on the dialogue, but honestly from the commentary I've seen is that they've captured the "West-Coast-Art-School" feel pretty accurately. Additionally, the game is partly inspired by Twin Peaks which is quite well known for its characterizations of stereotyped characters so this facet of the game shouldn't come as too much of a surprise.
The voice acting was, in my personal opinion, pretty good. I enjoyed the inner monologue of Max and she really made me doubt myself. I definitely flip-flopped on the first major decision about Nathan four or five times and then was still not comfortable with my decision because neither one felt right, and it didn't get better with Kate and Chloe. I love that every single decision was a difficult one to make. I felt like I was punished in some aspect for every decision that I had to make. I also enjoyed being able to interact with every character in some capacity and I loved that interactions you had with seemingly minor characters ended up adding more to the main plot line. It really feels like almost all of the minor interactions are going to lend themselves to being very important later.
Alright. The gameplay. While this game doesn't require hotkeying an inventory to half of your keyboard nor does it require you to memorize combos needed to be perfectly executed to beat the final boss, what it does have is a system that rewards you for taking your time and exploring. By exploring, you will make decisions that will change the future events that will unfold, you can earn collectibles to earn all of the achievements possible (you achievement whore, you), and you can learn more about the other characters in the game. At first I was so afraid of being punished for looking through the personal items of the other characters, but once I realized I could look through people's garbage right in front of their face I went into full sleuth mode. The ability to explore and make decisions, coupled with the ability to rewind time made for an incredibly fun first playthrough and this is a game that is meant to be played multiple times to see how different the story will play out based on all of the other decisions that can be made.