A student with a passion for game development and all things Japan.
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Well this took too long to write. School can do that to you, my friends. Make you forget you have games to play. Well that and making a bunch of other content, but that happens sometimes. Rules:
1.Spoilers are abounding, and depending on the game, can spoil the experience. This one in particular is very story heavy, so be warned going into the review.
2. I will not put aside any bias, but will try to be fair for games I do not like. This is my personal opinion. If you want to send your opinion, please do so in the comments below.
3.I am covering the PC version.
Also, this game deals with sensitive topics, and again, while I will talk about it, besides teens smoking, I will not show screen-caps.
And be warned, I'm spoiling this game rotten, so if you haven't played it, please do, because regardless of my opinion on the game, I believe this game is something you should experience for yourself. And for those that have played before, I believe that where I made choices are clear with what I chose for certain choices.
So, let's jump into the rest of this story. This is my review of Life Is Strange.
*deep breath* OK, let's do this. Episode by Episode. I'm assuming you read my episode 1 review for the details on that one.
Out Of Time
So after Max and Chloe figure out there is a storm coming to the Bay, we spend some time helping Kate March, who is being bulled and picked on by Victoria among others.. She's someone that ended up that affected thanks to Nathan, a common theme in the story. Nathan drugged her and raped her, and recorded this and put it up on the internet. Kate asks Max if she should go to the police, and in my play-through I advised her that she should.
After that, we ,meet up with Chloe who at her mother;s diner called the 2 whales, where she learns more about Max's time rewind power, but after going to the junkyard with Chloe, we learn that her power is limited, as Max begins to suffer headaches. We also meet Frank, a person that Chloe owes money to for drugs, and save Chloe from impending doom via train tracks. However this take a turn for the dark when Kate wants to JUMP OFF THE ROOF OF BLACKWELL. Max ends up saving her in my play-through. Also, note that Kate spoke to her teacher, Mr.Jefferson, before trying to jump off the roof.
Overall, I would say the story of this episode was good, as it was still some setup, but gave the feeling that something big is starting to happen.
Max and Chloe infiltrate the school after hours, as Max suspects that something was up, where they find more dirt on Nathan, and then go to the pool. More on this in at the end. They then head to Frank's place due to him saying that he had a relationship with Rachel, and they are able to confirm this. This pisses Chloe off, knowing that the person she cared about a lot was with one of the people that they both hated.
Seeing all the pain that Chloe has gone through, Max inadvertently goes BACK IN TIME. She ends up going far enough to the point where she able to stop Chloe's father, William, from dying. However, Chloe can't seem to catch a as ends up in a wheelchair for her troubles, as a result of getting into a car crash on with the car she got on her 16th birthday.
I personally enjoyed Episode 3 as it feels like the one they want you to bond with Chloe the most. And I really felt that bond between them, but more on that later.
So it turns out that Max ended up in an alternate timeline, where William lived, but Chloe ended up paying the price instead. She's not able to use any of her limbs, and her days are mostly spent in a hospital bed. After talking with Max and going through memories, Chloe then asks you ASSIST HER SUICIDE BY TURNING UP HER IV. The devs like us making hard choices, huh? I chose not to because I couldn't bear to see her die.
Max goes back in time again to fix things, letting William die, returning her to the current timeline. After that, Max and Chloe do some investigating, going round gathering clues from David, Chloe's douchebag father, Kate, Nathan and Frank. It leads them to an abandoned warehouse where they find the place called the dark room, where photographs of people have been taken, and they find a folder of Victoria with nothing in it, meaning that she's next. However, they also find a folder with Rachel's name and gruesome photo, and after going back to the Junkyard, they find Rachel's body, leaving Chloe pissed at Nathan. They head to the party to warn Victoria, but when they leave, Nathan implies that he plans to burn Rachel's body, but it turns out the real culprit was... Mr.Jefferson, working with the Prescott's, taking Nathan under his wing, and pretty much becoming his father figure.He sent the text from Nathan's phone, DRUGS MAX AND KILLS CHLOE. But things are not over yet.
Episode 4 was pretty heart breaking to watch at points but I didn't expect that plot twist, and kudos to the developers for adding that assisted death choice.
Mr.Jefferson takes Max to the dark room, and Jefferson does his creepy photography, toying with Max in the process. However, Max manages to find a photo to take her to the start of the week, making sure she hands in her entry for the Everyday Hero's contest, which changes the timeline to her winning, and the day is saved... for all of 20 minutes, as Chloe is caught out in the storm, so Max goes back to make sure she doesn't hand that photo, but ends up back in the Jefferson torture chamber, and with Chloe still dead.
Max puts a fight and with some help from David, Max is able to escape the chamber, and goes to find Warren, her nerdy friend from school, so she can a photo that that they both took the just before the vortex party to save Chloe from going bang. She saves her, but passes out from her efforts, and the game then taunts in a Nightmare, where you apparently fall in love with the deranged photographer, show go through a stealth section that has the other taunting you on what you could have done, be taunted by dead spirits of William and Rachel, and reminisce your memories with Chloe, more on this a bit. When Max wakes up, Chloe realises that she might be the catalyst, and you are forced to make the ultimate choice, save Chloe or save Arcadia Bay?
Before I reveal my choice, I want to say that Life is Strange's story... is good! I really like the writing in particular, the interactions with characters make them feel like they are teenagers, and I like the atmosphere that the game gives you. The big problem that I have is that the game keeps playing up that the choices you make in this game affect the past, present and future. Of course I though that this meant that this affects the ending, but in reality, it doesn't because in the end,you have to choose between Chloe and the Bay no matter how you treat people. Hell when I took the photo back to where it all started in Episode 5, I thought that guaranteed me what I though was a bad ending, but then I realised that even if I did I still had to make that choice. That choice is HARD. VERY HARD. But this leads me into the what I think is the defining feature of Life is Strange's story, the relationship between Max and Chloe.
From the moment these 2 met, it honestly feels like they are grown up childhood friends. Max, while still a character that represents the player for me, feels like her own character because she actually has personality traits that make her feel like her own character. Though I will admit, she does feel a bit like a Mary Sue. Chloe is what I would call a tortured character, where she has had almost everything ripped away from her and when Max comes back, she's found some happiness in her life again.
The bond between these two feels like a romantic bond, no matter what happens they have each other, and you even get the option to kiss Chloe in Episode 3. Which I did do admittedly. The moments that Max and Chloe felt like it deepened their bond, and felt heart warming in most instances. For this reason, I saved Chloe. I thought to myself "F**k me if I let her die, she deserves some happiness in her life." That being said the nightmare also drove this choice because dream Chloe taunts you by being with other people while you are in the Dark Room, and this made me tense. Like I said before, I thought I got the "bad ending". I do like both endings though, the Chloe dies ending for the immense effort the devs put in, and the Chloe lives ending for the starting their Brave New World, just like Chloe and Rachel were going to do, in Life is Strange:Before the Storm.
Life is Strange asks you in it's ending, "Is one person worth the world?". And for me, Chloe was.
Life is Strange plays like a point and click adventure. You go around an area and you look at thing, making sure that have the item that you needed to progress. Life is Strange also has you talk to people, and with certain interactions, you can the use the information given to help with other interactions. I like this, although the game is pretty slow because of this, and while I don't mind it because of the setting, I understand why it can be an issue for some.
The big feature of this game how Max can rewind time at any given moment. This is mostly used for changing the outcome of choices, and at certain points see different outcomes. I found this helpful during major choices, where it was said that this action would have consequences, you can tell from the butterfly afterwards and the haze before you make the choice. You can also do this at will, but the game is very linear in where you HAVE to use the time travel mechanic, which makes sense, but again,this limits the impact the choices you make really have.
Looks, Sound and Final Thoughts
The game looks great, as the use cel-shaded graphics and quality of the models are on point, but the factual animation is awful to point of where I found it distracting. I understand that I may have more of an eye for this than others, but it still bothers me that a game that is 70% movie has facial animations this bad. Hell, I even got a glitch where Max's mouth DIDN'T MOVE FOR A SCENE. IT'S CREEPY.
Thought I can say the voice acting makes up for it. Ashly Burch as Chloe and Hannah Telle as Max put in amazing performances, and the music choices for them are perfect. The vocal music(which, despite what REACT says, I don't think is Royalty Free) in this game is awesome, and the atmospheric music is pretty good too.
Overall, I really enjoyed this game, but I feel as if Life is Strange is more of a experience that a game, which makes it hard for me recommend. However, if you are interested in this game at all, I urge you to pick it up, as it is an experience like no other in my opinion.
Huh. I'm surprised this isn't as long as the FF13 review with how much story I needed to cram in. And for those wondering, yes I'm planning to pick up the Comics that take place after the game, and the FF13 prologue book. Money is just hard to get atm. If you want to get them yourselves and help out the blog, you can get them at the affiliate links in the description.
Anyways, this week is A-Level results week so I'll let you know how it goes. And to any A-Level student reading this: Good luck on your journey.
But for now, thanks for reading, and I will see you guys next time.
Written By Nana Marfo
Speical Thanks: Gwen AKA HellyonWorks and Omar, for the recommendation of this game. I hope this review did it justice.
Life is Strange belongs to Square Enix and Dontnod Entertainment