Life is Strange is a pretty cool game. The second outing of the fledgeling studio Dontnod Entertainment, you can clearly see the same design philosophy that surrounded Remember Me on display here: They find a central conceit, such as memory manipulation in Remember Me, and build the game idea around it. In Remember Me, as my previous post suggests, this didn’t quite work out. I’m pleased to say however that I believe it’s much more successful in Life is Strange.
Life is Strange has at its center a protagonist named Max Caulfield (Spot that obvious reference!) who discovers one afternoon at her new school that she can rewind time to alter conversations, actions and decisions she makes, which had been hyped like Remember Me’s memory editing, but unlike that mechanic, it is actually the central mechanic of the entire game, and I have to say, I think this approach really suits Dontnod Entertainment.
Life is Strange is mechanically simple, but that mechanic is very fun and engaging and compelling within the context of the narrative. By placing it in a normal setting, there isn’t a need to have a character who is a badass or has to platform around and fight. Such concerns take a backseat to the exploration of physical locations and story elements by Max, all while manipulating both of these things through her time controlling power. It frees Dontnod up to do what they do well, crafting a cool game world and interesting characters.
I’d even go as far as to say that, despite Telltale representing the market for these sorts of storytelling games, that Life is Strange does it better than they do. The interface is really nice and simple and aesthetically pleasing, and the time control introduces an actual mechanic to accompany all the dialogue that adds multiple layers of interactivity to the game environment.
It’s not a perfect game, however. Especially in the first episode, the dialogue can be a bit rough and forced, and the artificiality of adult French men writing dialogue for teenaged American girls comes through, though it smooths out considerably in the 2nd episode, and doesn’t detract from the intriguing atmosphere of the game or its mystery. I highly recommend giving this one a go.