Rogue Hippo’s Review Score: 9
I’m an old-school gamer with limited time for video games. When I do find some time, I prefer NES games, SNES games and 10-20 year old strategy/rpg games. So when I can’t stop playing a new(ish), story-driven game about a teenage girl trying to get through the hassles of high school, I feel like I need to talk about it.
In Life is Strange, you assume the role of Max Caulfield, an aspiring photographer at the prestigious Blackwell Academy. Max starts off with the typical high school grind… homework, gossip, parents, etc; but things get interesting quickly when Max discovers that she can rewind time. As expected, this power comes in handy when dealing with bullies, avoiding embarrassing situations or knowing exactly what to say to impress people. But with great power comes great responsibility; and Max is forced to make life-altering decisions as the people around her get caught up in drugs, scandals, corruption and murder.
This is where Life is Strange really shines. Some decisions are no-brainers, but many are agonizing, with seemingly no right answer. These aren’t your typical “good path” versus “evil path” video game decisions. These are very real characters with relatable problems, and you have the power to decide who wins and who loses. Do you help your rival or set her up for failure? Do you let yourself, or your friend, take the fall? Do you pull the trigger? No other video game has made me scrutinize the consequences of my actions quite like this one. There were even a few times when I just had to get up and walk away… too much was riding on my decisions and the burden was overwhelming. I’ve never experienced anything like that before in my 30+ years of gaming.
Much of the credit goes to the voice-actors. They do an incredible job and make it very easy to connect with the characters. Collectively, it’s the best performance I’ve ever experienced in a video game, and they won quite a few awards. The good guys are flawed, but likable, and you want to do everything you can to help them. The bad guys are as despised as Joffrey from Game of Thrones.
I’ve played through the entire game, and I learned some things about myself along the way. To this day, I still wonder if I made the right decisions in some critical moments. This game gets in your head and it stays with you.
The unfortunate truth is that many people (especially self-proclaimed “tough guys”) will skip this game based on the theme alone. I can assure you, that is a mistake. Life is Strange is as intense as any video game out there. I don’t remember why I tried it (probably because Episode 1 is free on Steam), but I’m glad I did. I suggest you do the same… just give it a try. Episode 1 will cost you $0.00 and about 3 hours of your time. Then, if you’re anything like me, you’ll quickly buy the complete series as you find yourself caught up in one of the most engaging stories you can experience in a video game.
I’ll leave you with the trailer:
Until Next Time,
PS- Some of you may be saying; “Wait, this game sounds like that Ashton Kutcher movie where he can control time! Ugh… what was it called?! I can’t remember… Arghhh!” It’s The Butterfly Effect. I don’t know if it was an influence on Life is Strange, but there are many similarities. It’s a decent movie if you want to check it out… and it lets me add an ‘Ashton Kutcher’ tag to this blog, so everyone is a winner!