Game Review: Life Is Strange

I bought this game on a whim because I’d read some nice things about it, it looked interesting, and it was $10 on Deals with Gold – so it seemed like a pretty low risk purchase. I was also looking for something that was VERY different from the game I’d previously played (Fallout 4), and I got that, for better and worse.

Mostly just worse…

In Life is Strange, you take control of an 18-year-old girl who discovers she has the ability to rewind time in order to change previous actions in order to manipulate the events of her life.

As a tool, the time rewind mechanic is kind of cool, as it allows you to see the immediate impacts of your decisions, and to change them if you don’t like the result.It’s a little tedious to use (you hold down a button until you get back to a point in time) at first, but it gets better as you get further into the game.

The overall controls are kind of a non-factor as you don’t really have to do too much, and you almost never have to hurry.

There are a lot of things to explore and they do a nice job of indicating points of interest without being too intrusive to the experience (white sketch/drawing around an object of interest as you pan by). Many of them are not really worth looking at, and for a curious soul like myself, I have a hard time NOT looking at everything, which makes this part of the game a little too repetitive. If it’s important, it should be an object of interest. If it’s not, just leave it out. But this may be a personal thing.

Visually, the art is nice to look at, but is in no way a technical wonder. There are cool little details though – like Max’s nervous twitches and the leaves falling from the trees as the wind blows. The lighting in the different environments is also pretty good.

Overall, I think the art direction is really good. It’s aged, and looks like a last gen game, but I think it’ll age better than most – not great, but well enough.

The music fits with the theme of the game. Maybe a little TOO coffee house chill, but feels about right for a dramatic story about college freshman life. Something about trying to be a little older than it is…

The story is where this game falls apart for me…

…and resulted in me leaving the game after completing Episode Two.

While the story is slow moving, it’s the script and/or voice acting that spelled doom for me with this game.

Voice acting is not very good – and WAAAY too many “Hellas” and “BLAAAAZED”. It feels/sounds like it’s trying too hard to get the 18-year-old vernacular, but missing…badly. This may just be my age, but I don’t hear ANYONE talk like the characters in this game do. Actually, it sounds like it was written by a high school student trying to SOUND like a college student.The swearing sounds so forced – like a church group did all the voice acting and they just don’t feel comfortable with the harsh language. There’s about the right amount of swearing, for 18 year-olds (maybe even a little light), but it’s delivered poorly. Way too many bad drug references too.

Grass, blow, and chems, oh my!

The Verdict: 4.5 (Meh)
I really WANTED to like this game, which explains why I kept playing. I really like story driven games, games with interesting game mechanics and/or character powers, and something quite a bit different than most other games. It’s just hard to get past the poor dialogue and boring stereotypical characters.

The game also tries hard to make me like it, with the references to television and movies that have taken place in the upper northwest (Twin Peaks and The Killing), and a well fitted sound track, but ultimately the experience falls flat.

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