- + Original story, filled with twists and turns
- + Arcadia Bay is beautiful
- + Max’s relationship with Chloe
- - The climax felt a little shoehorned
Want to look beyond the score? Check out the full review below…
Start Replay: “Rewind”
***I have been reviewing Life is Strange in an episodic format, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to avoid spoilers. Instead I’ve reviewed the entire series in one spoiler-free article.***
There are plenty of things I’d love to rewind and try a second time; situations and decisions that didn’t go my way, opportunities I missed or failed to seize. I can’t turn back time, but Max Caulfield from the fictional town of Arcadia Bay, Oregon, can. Life is Strange is a brilliant story-driven series that poses a very important question to anyone that plays it: if you could rewind time, would you?
Woven throughout this intriguing and often tragic tale, are story threads and situations that nearly everyone can relate to. Max’s return to her hometown after 5 years away means there’s a lot to catch up on. Long-lost friendships are rekindled, adventures are embarked upon and, by some freak of nature, she also discovers the power of time manipulation. It’s a spiderweb of twists and turns that bring to light the good, the bad and the ugly parts of life. It definitely is, as they say, strange.
The sleepy town of Arcadia Bay oozes charm through its stunning water colour-esque art direction. In a similar fashion to the ever-popular Telltale games, story is placed front and centre and its characters are the focus point. Time manipulation isn’t anything new, but utilising it in a video game hasn’t reached this level before. Any action you perform, whether verbal or physical, can be rewound and given another try. Once you past certain checkpoints you’re restricted to what is happening at that time and place, but overall getting a second chance to try a different angle felt very rewarding. As an example, if you’re speaking to someone and they give you information that would have been useful at the start of the conversation, hope back and hey presto, use that new info to your advantage.
Despite my power, entering dangerous situations that could potentially result in death still scared the crap out of me. I had a niggling feeling that any action I imposed would be final, no retries. That said, without spoiling too much, power isn’t something that should be taken for granted. Everything you do will have an impact on your surroundings, and the butterfly effect can be a scary thing indeed. What took me off my feet the most was how much Max’s story evolved throughout the course of the game. It took turns I never would have expected and went to places so dark, I wondered where the enjoyment went. Sometimes I genuinely felt a little unnerved by where it was leading, but I cared for the characters and the world they resided in.
It’s not just the people I met that made me care, once I found out my plant could die if I didn’t water it, or that a bird died because I wasn’t paying attention, I scrutinised even the smallest of details. The amount of choice available is astounding, but while I enjoyed everything on offer I did have a few reservations about its conclusion.
When you’re given so many different choices to smaller details, it’s always going to be hard to put an accurate and fulfilling conclusion to the end of your journey. On the last episode I felt more like I was watching events unfold, than actively making my own choices. All I was simply doing is pressing buttons whilst having my hand held and I felt a little cheated, to be honest. Then again, the majority of my time was filled with exhilarating and tense decision making, and its ending doesn’t overshadow that.
There’s no much else I can say without posting spoilers, so if my words have peaked your interest go ahead and trial the first episode for free.
Life is Strange is unlike any other game out there, presenting an original storyline that will make you think twice about your actions. I only wish that the finale could’ve represented my decisions a little better. Would I rewind time in my life? After spectating what happens if you do, I don’t think so, but I’m more than happy to simulate it.
*Life is Strange was provided to Start Replay on PS4 by Square-Enix