Friday, 13 February 2015

Life Is Strange: PS4 Review

Life Is Strange: PS4 Review

Developer: Square Enix /Dontnod
Platform: PS4

Ever since TellTale Games set the click and play world afire with The Walking Dead, Fables and now Game Of Thrones, the question has always been when would other studios come to the party?

Well, the Dontnod studio (who developed the much underrated Remember Me) is the first to try and capitalise on the craze with this story set in an American high school (and which utilises some of the rewind technology and ideas you saw in Remember Me).

It's the story of Max Caulfield, a quiet withdrawn teen who has a fascination with a Polaroid camera and who one day experiences a vivid dream with a twister while dosing off in class. Waking up, Max discovers she can rewind time now she's back in her home town of Arcadia Bay. Which is curious for her, but also fortunate as it gives her a chance to help answer the tough questions in class (she's able to retain vital information when she rewinds time) as well as stopping someone from being shot in a bathroom.

Chrysalis is the first part of Life Is Strange and to be honest,it's more about set up than anything else.

It's a typical high school kind of mini movie in a way - all the usual issues are there from catty girls to social awkwardness and exclusion, no familiar trope is left unturned. And yet, it's intriguing more than it is fully engaging.

Max's dialogue occasionally feels a little forced as you wander round exploring everything and sometimes the graphics (such as Max trying to brush her fingers through her hair) don't always work, but it's worth sticking with Life Is Strange. Rewinding gives her a chance to relive it all again and do things differently, but the extra prompting from Max afterwards makes you doubt your choices - it's interesting as they'll all play out in future episodes I guess, but it felt like there wasn't quite as much in terms of consequence as you'd expect (although to be fair, this is only Chapter One).

Arcadia Bay feels like it's something out of Veronica Mars and Buffy meshed together - there's mystery ( a disappeared girl), high school bullying and ostracism and a whole heap of hokum as the time travel is left fully unexplored (though it's a great hook - who wouldn't want to do it all again as a troubled teen?)

All in all, Life Is Strange is a good intriguing start to the five part series. I'm interested to see where it goes and if the emotional pay off is as solid as you'd hope for, given some of the themes explored in Chrysalis.


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