Sunday, 7 August 2016

Asylum Reviews: Life is Strange [Xbox One].

So I recently completed Life is Strange, after having the Limited Edition for months now (and meaning to review it for as long!).

I was super excited to play the game, but lots of stuff kept getting in my way, from absolutely no hard drive space to spare when I got it, to other games that I'd purchased taking priority due to all members of the house wanting to play, etc. But finally, I got it installed.

And boy am I glad I did.

I actually missed it when it first came out: a combination of lack of funds, and also losing track of release dates. but earlier this year, Square Enix were kind enough to send me a copy of the Limited Edition (so thanks again to them!). From the second I started playing, I immediately regretted not playing it sooner, but at the same time, was so glad to be currently playing it that waiting no longer seemed that bad.

If you don't already know, Life is Strange is a fantastic, critically-acclaimed game developed by Paris based developers Dontnod Entertainment (whose studio title I adore - gotta love a palindrome!). They also did the game Remember Me, prior to Life is Strange, and are currently in development for Vampyr, which we extremely cannot wait for.

Life is Strange is an episodic game, spanning five episodes, of roughly 2-4 hours each. It's an amazing game and really keeps you gripped and desperate to uncover the story throughout. Part of the intrigue of Life is Strange, is the ability to rewind time. You play as Max Caulfield, a teenage girl who, having moved away to Seattle as a child, has moved back home to Arcadia Bay to attend high school. Whilst living her normal, every-day school life, she witnesses a shooting in the girls' bathroom, initiating her ability to rewrite the past, and of course, the future.

Everything is understandably confusing and overwhelming for Max, who later discovers that the girl whose life she saved in the bathroom, was actually her childhood best friend, Chloe. They reunite, as if no time has passed, only to have their lives turned upside down with Max's vision of a disastrous tornado, that is set to destroy Arcadia Bay, and all who reside there.

The time altering is actually something I really enjoyed in this game, as with most choice driven games, once you make a choice that's you stuck with it. LiS enables you to make a choice, let it play out, and then rewind if it didn't work out, all the while keeping the knowledge you gained, and the items you picked up. It's a really enjoyable concept, and whilst it still has some more difficult puzzle moments in the game, where you sit there scratching your head (despite it being fairly obvious what you've to do), the game is pretty straightforward.

A fun, yet extremely time-consuming part of LiS is all of the backtracking you'll find yourself doing. I want to know the outcomes of literally every single thing I could say or do before I settle on my final, "permanent" choice. As shown above, one possibly option is to plant a kiss on your best friend Chloe, and these choices that overall don't make much of an impact on the story, certainly are referenced later on, if it ends up being your official choice.

All throughout the game, I was desperate to uncover everything, find out who was causing what, and ultimately save the day. The game isn't long overall, and it's pretty easy to blast through a couple of episodes in a day, which I was more than happy to do as I just had to find out everything (and without spoiling anything, I was totally taken aback by the ending!).

Only a couple of things bugged me about the game, but those weren't even big issues: the voice acting was off in places. I'm guessing the actors all recorded their lines separately as a lot of times the tone of voice didn't always match up in conversations. One person saying one thing, and then the reply from the second person being way off, I won't lie, it did stand out to me quite a few times. The other thing, and I don't know if this affected everyone or if it was just a glitch in my playthrough, but throughout almost the entire final episode, whenever anyone spoke to Max, their lips moved, but when Max responded, her mouth stayed completely still, or occasionally moved as though she was breathing (but not speaking). At first I put that down to us just hearing what she was thinking, but it happened too many times in moments where it was clear she was conversing with another character, and it slightly irritated me. But again, not enough for it to make me dislike the game.

Overall, I really loved and enjoyed the game, and was slightly sad when it was over as I wanted it to go on (but you always get that at the end of a great game, don't you?). The art style, the pacing, the intrigue, all combined into a game that really took my breath away. So I'd have to rate Life is Strange as an 8.5/10. And with talks of a TV series coming to Crackle at some point in the future, I'm really looking forward to seeing how that pans out.

What were your thoughts on Life is Strange?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

PS: Remember to check back later for unboxing photos of the Limited Edition! V x

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