Video games are strange
Review of “Life is Strange” episodes 1-4
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More and more videos games are beginning to focus on the storytelling aspect of a game as opposed to completely focusing on the gameplay. “Life is Strange,” with four episodes out and the fifth most likely coming out sometime in early September, has been a standout game in terms of creating a unique and enticing episodic storytelling game that gives Telltale Games a run for their money.
“Life is Strange” is a game developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Square Enix. This game can be purchased on steam, PS4, PS3, Xbox One and Xbox 360. “Life is Strange” is rated M for Mature.
This game has a 10/10 on steam, 7/10 on GameSpot and IGN Ratings of 6.5 for the first episode, 7 for the second, 8 for the third and a 6 for the fourth. Each episode adapts and changes based on the choices you make along the way as you play as the main character, Maxine, or Max, Caulfield, a budding photographer. (I see you, Holden.)
Below are quick spoiler-free reviews of each episode and more detailed, spoiler-filled reviews.
Episode 1: Chrysalis Quickie Review
It was a mildly entertaining “this is everything you need to know before the game actually starts” kind of episode. This episode didn’t necessarily get me hooked, but it is still worth a play.
Episode 1: Chrysalis Spoiler Review
Did somebody say “time-traveling, mystery, story-based, apocalyptic video game?” Probably not. The game starts off kind of slow, but this is pretty much the overarching theme of the first episode.
Max Caulfield attends Blackwell Academy and learns that she can rewind time. Which is a pretty cool feature since the player needs to make all the decisions for her. What happens if you don’t like the consequences of the decision you just made? Well, you just need to rewind time and choose again. The concept of being able to change your mind in a story game is unique and refreshing. It makes things not as stressful as they could be.
Overall, to me this episode was almost all introduction. They introduced the nice, quiet friend Kate; the mean girl Victoria; the spoiled brat Nathan and the dorky, hopelessly-in-love-with-his-best-friend-who-doesn’t-know-he-exists Warren. They also introduced the punk-rock, long-lost best friend Chloe and ominous, missing Rachel Amber. The characters often seemed written by a 40-year-old mom trying to sound “hip,” but overall they were interesting.
This episode took its time, and I think it should have just thrown you into the game a little bit more.
Here are the choices I made:
- I hid the truth about Nathan from the principal.
- I comforted Victoria (after I ruined her cashmere sweater).
- I intervened between Kate and David to help Kate out.
- I stayed hidden in Chloe’s room.
Overall I give this episode a 3.5/5.
Episode 2: Out of Time Quickie Review
A huge bump in the “wow” factor of this game. I was really impressed with the plot points they introduced. This episode sucked me into this game.
Episode 2: Out of Time Spoiler Review
This episode picked up the pace in a major way. We learned a lot about Kate and really got insight into how bad things are for her at the moment. The creators did a brilliant job with handling the state of Kate’s depression and how bullying affected that. This episode introduced other dark themes that really pulled me in. We also got to learn a lot more about Rachel Amber and the relationship she had with Chloe.
Needless to say, the character development was a huge portion of this episode, and I thought it was executed really well. I also really liked the fact that they introduced both new aspects to Max’s powers while also putting limits on them. Max freezes time to try and save Kate, but then the player only has one shot at saving Kate. That’s right, only one. No whoosh going back in time and picking a different option. Whether she lives or dies is all in the player’s hands. I also learned the hard way that sometimes you can only rewind once, even if you just wanted to test out all of the options. This episode showed a lot of potential for the future of this game.
I give this episode a 4/5.
Here are the choice I made:
- I told Kate to go to the police about what happened at that party.
- I answered Kate’s call in the diner.
- I tried to shoot Frank at the junkyard.
- I saved Kate’s life.
- I blamed David for what happened to Kate. (Although I wanted to blame Nathan, I could only rewind once.)
Episode 3: Chaos Theory Quickie Review
Easily the best episode out of the first three. Nothing felt forced or boring. The pacing of this episode was a lot of fun. Also, the twists and turns keep getting better and better.
Without spoiling anything else, if you want to play a chill game with a unique, enticing story, go ahead and pick up a season pass for only $20.
Episode 3: Chaos Theory Spoiler Review
This is the episode that got me hooked on everything that this game has to offer. It got me to ask so many questions that we still just don’t have the answers to. The relationship that has been developing between Max and Chloe is downright adorable. The gameplay in this episode felt way more realistic and intuitive to each character. We have learnt more and more about Rachel Amber and Frank, but none of the puzzle pieces have added up. The impending storm gets closer each day, and this episode left me needing answers sooner rather than later. Not to mention that the creators dropped the biggest plot twist with a new boost to Max’s power, in which the photographer can travel back in time to the moment a picture was taken—talk about a plot twist.
I love that the writers really seem to be pushing the envelope with her powers and broadening what they can and can’t do. But the change Max makes is both great and heartbreaking at the same time, because Chloe now has a father but is no longer able-bodied. I really enjoy the fact that they introduced tangible consequences to Max’s powers. At one point her ability seemed limitless, but she learnt the hard way that you can’t just change history all willy-nilly.
I give this episode a 4.4/5
Here are the choices I made:
- I stole the money in the principal’s drawer.
- I kissed Chloe.
- I sided with Chloe over David in the argument they had.
- I kept Frank’s dog from harm.
- Chloe has David’s gun again.
Episode 4: Dark Room Quickie Review
This episode was a work of art. The pacing was absolutely beautiful, not to mention the plot of this episode had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Play this game if only so that you can experience this episode.
Episode 4: Dark Room Spoiler Review
This episode right here was heartwrenching. I really like how they used the choices factor to really make your heart hurt when having to make decisions. In the first episode, the choices you had to choose between seemed kind of pointless, but in this one every choice had some serious consequences. Also, Victoria’s character development was incredible. I really sympathized and connected with her, which was a huge surprise. This episode had me on the edge of my seat the entire time, including the final moments of piecing the clues together and finding the dark room (which was super creepy, by the way). I loved how this story progressed and how they pulled that huge plot twist at the end (which is so full of spoilers, I don’t even want to include it). I can honestly say I have no clue what awaits in episode five.
I give this episode a 4.5/5
Here are the choices I made:
- I accepted Chloe’s request. (Ouch my heart.)
- I let Warren beat up Nathan. (He deserved it.)
- No one got hurt while talking with Frank.
- Victoria believed my warning.