Hey everyone, Cinnmon730 here with another Indie Game Review! This week, we’re going to take a look at Life is Strange.
Life is Strange is a decision based RPG, but with a bit of a twist. Most decision based RPGs have you decide on something, and when you see that you don’t like the outcome, you restart the level. This game makes it so that you don’t have to restart the level, because your character can go back in time. The game comes in a series of five episodes, each one tackling different issues while simultaneously expanding on issues found in previous episodes.
Max Caulfield, the main character, is a young photographer who just transferred to a prestigious school in her hometown of Arcadia Bay after living in Seattle for a long time. She is very shy, and not too confident in herself in the beginning of the game. And then she discovers that she can reverse time, and she becomes even less confident.
There are limits to what Max can do, and there are times in which the rewind won’t work. For instance, once you leave an area, the decisions made there are permanent.
It isn’t all just walking around and making decisions, though. There are some puzzles built into the game that you have to figure out in order to progress. There are points where you have to sneak around and try not to get caught, rewinding time again and again in order to make it past whatever- or whoever you need to sneak past.
Life is Strange could also be classified as a mystery drama game. A lot of… strange things are happening in Arcadia Bay. A girl has gone missing, a boy has a gun in school, a classmate seems uncharacteristically sad, there’s a security guard that seems to be a bit off, and to top things off, there’s a giant tornado approaching the town. Max is attempting to figure all of this out, along with getting used to her own new powers and keeping up with her schoolwork.
A lot of serious matters are touched upon during the game. Themes of mental health are played upon in each episode, including depression and anxiety. For once, the portrayal of each of these things are accurate and informative, rather than cast in a negative light. For those suffering from depression and anxiety, this game can serve as proof that you are not alone. Abuse and peer pressure are also examined throughout the game, in much the same way as depression and anxiety.
There is a certain artistic quality to the entire game. The animation and art style is beautiful, and you can have moments in which you can have Max take in the scenery around her, playing out in a cutscene-esque fashion, though it isn’t a cutscene at all. The style very much captures a photographer or artist’s mind while looking at the world around them. The soundtrack is tactfully chosen to elicit emotions at just the right times, and somehow made me feel a bit nostalgic later in the game.
Overall, this was a beautiful game that did so many important things regarding mental health. Those that suffer with mental health now have a game where they can see that they aren’t alone, and it is possible to recover and get better. Life is Strange is incredibly immersive, and the characters are relatable to everyday life. There is also a theme shown that anyone can be a hero, and anyone can save someone’s life.
When I binge played these episodes, I felt as though I was a part of the drama in Arcadia Bay. Maybe that’s different for those that play one episode at a time over periods of time. Now that all the episodes are out, and the bundle of all five episodes is fairly cheap, I doubt there will be much reason to stretch the game out, though. Each episode has its own cliffhangers, and leaves you grasping for more.
Emotions run high through each episode, and the player is kept on the edge of their seat. I definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good mystery, along with some great thrills paired with some heavy crying and very tough decisions.
You can purchase the game here.