Life is Strange Episode 1 Chrysalis : Ahead of it's time?
Life is Strange is a new entrant in the ever growing decision making genre in gaming. Over the last couple of years we have had Telltale top of the market with it's versions of The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us and more recently Game of Thrones. But is the genre big enough for another studio? Apparently so.
From Square Enix, the publisher that brought such games as Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest and developer Dontnod Entertainment comes Life is Strange. After waking in the midst of a massive storm 18 year old Maxine "Max" Caulfield makes her way to the nearby lighthouse before what seems to be waking up at her desk in school. The class is recieving a lecture from their Photography tutor and after some awkward situations you make your way to the bathroom. It is from this point on you realise that this is just like other choice based games, but something brilliantly new. During a chance encounter that goes terribly wrong your character inadvertantly rewinds time and ends up back in class, and with a few questions for you to answer again you are now able to rewind time to before you answered to see if you would like to change your answer.
As with previous choice based games any choice you make and in the case of Life is Strange the choices you keep effect your story, maybe not straight away but with four more parts coming it will definitely define options available to you afterwards. I love this genre but of late have been getting tired of it because it seemed like a one horse race that apart from changing the subject matter didn't seem to be changing the way to play. And that's why I think this is probably one of the greatest releases we'll probably see this year, not because it is an outstanding game but because it has changed the rules and now other likewise studios are going to have to think about how to keep it fresh.
Life is Strange isn't just fresh but it is pretty, from a visual persepective it is really quite nice. It is muted almost watercolour tones that are soft and embraceful and with a background soundtrack that would be quite at home in an American coming of age film it is a gentle ride. But like most games it does have it's issues. The biggest one for me was mouth syncing, now I know that it is probably ridiculously hard to sync mouth to voice correctly because no matter how hard the coders work just sometimes it never matches up. But on a couple of occasions I actually felt myself feeling a bit off put not of the game but just watching them talk, that said there really isn't any other major faults. At £3.99 or $4.99 respectively it really is worth the price if you like this type of game, and with the second part due for release in March this could be a great game to see you through the year.
***/* 3/4 Stars
Available for Xbox 360/PS3/Xbox One/PS4 and Microsoft Windows