Review: Life is Strange: Episode 1
Starting college is a difficult and stressful time for anyone. Moving to a new town, making new friends, bending space and time. It’s safe to say then, that Square Enix’s episodic adventure, Life is Strange is aptly named.
Players take up the role of 18-year-old hipster, Max – a photography student, recently returned to her home town – who discovers in a life or death situation that she has the power to reverse time to affect the outcome of past, present and future events. With her reunited childhood friend Chloe, Max must juggle fitting in with her classmates and shaking her loser image, while uncovering the dark secrets overshadowing Arcadia Bay and its mysterious missing student.
Taking a leaf out of Telltale’s book, Life is Strange is a five-part episodic adventure culminating in an ending scripted towards player decisions. Unlike Telltale however, the time travel element allows players to completely tailor their game decisions without restarting their game.
That being said, Square Enix are keeping an air of mystery towards the plot as players may reverse time to alter events if they don’t like the immediate effects of a decision, yet have no idea how the event will trigger future plot outcomes.Whereas past titles such as Mass Effect and Fable give players choice, it has only effected their characters morality and likely leads to one of three endings depending on whether a player played as good, evil or neutral characters. Square Enix however allows players to mould and shape the story and tone of the game from start to finish, leading to a huge variety of character opinions and plot events.
With a strong script and exceptional performances (with the omission of some overused teen colloquialisms), accompanied by beautifully hand painted visuals, episode one of Life is Strange plays out as a crossover of a coming of age tale and a murder mystery, playing out as a great preview as to how future episode are likely to continue.
Episode 1 of Life is Strange is available for Xbox 360, Xbox 1, PS3, PS4 and on Steam at £3.99 or available as a bundle option of £15.99 for episodes 1-5.