08 March 2015

Life is Strange (game) - minor spoilers

I'm using my post-release break to play a few games.

Life is Strange is an episodic adventure game about a photography-obsessed girl name Max who has returned to her home town on a scholarship - and discovers she has time-rewinding powers.  Into Max's life we introduce a rich boy with a gun, an old friend with problems, a security control freak, a new friend with white-knight tendencies, and a disappeared girl.  And many varieties of bullying.  And a coming mega-tornado.

The production values are very high, and it's a nice, playable game, with puzzles that revolve mainly about choices leading to social consequences.  And I enjoyed playing the first episode of this game, and liked Max, and I'm probably not going to pick up the rest of the episodes.

Two issues - there's so much powerlessness going on here, so many different vortices of bullying, that I just feel no anticipation for the play experience, even if the likely end result is vindication or escape.

And - particularly in a game where the main character runs around taking photos of everything - I kept having to keep myself from shrieking "Take some video!  Gather evidence!  Video the creepy home surveillance system.  Video the rich boy with a gun!  Video the bullying security guard!"

The mega-tornado also feels weirdly unnecessary given all the other stuff going on.

Anyway - I do recommend this game to anyone with higher tolerance for this kind of story.  It's very atmospheric and interesting.  Just a not-for-me game.

Mildly spoilerish bit..
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Willing to bet that the all-around-wonderful photography teacher is a creepy murderer and video-taper of girls.

7 comments:

  1. After reading this, I did download and play it! I do like it quite a bit. It does leave you feeling kind of on edge - from all the bullying and powerlessness, as you mentioned. And it freaked me out when each time you made a choice it tried to convince you that maybe you should have made a different one. But even knowing the outcome, why WOULDN'T I report the gun to the principal?! etc etc

    Reading about some of the other choices at the end, I see I missed out on a few opportunities (signing someone's petition, letting someone else draw your portrait). I feel like such a snoop in the game. Normally if there is a hotspot in an adventure game, you click on it. I guess because this game has consequences based on your actions, I felt slimy poking around people's rooms, especially right in front of their faces - but then again, I guess you can do whatever you like, then rewind time to avoid the consequences.

    Overall, I did enjoy the game, and will definitely play the next episodes, especially since I find my kind of games so seldomly. Before this and Dreamfall: Chapters, I think the last true PC adventure game I played was Jane Jensen's Gray Matter, which I think was about 4 years ago. And Life is Strange is definitely a lot better than a lot of other stuff that comes out these days, with such little demand for this type of game. So I don't disagree with your points, but look forward to continuing with the next episode. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

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    1. Yes, I too found a clash between my usual 'search every hotspot' attitude and the simple decency of not picking up someone's pregnancy test. I chose to behave as a real person would, and not snoop unnecessarily.

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  2. In that one character's room I stuck to my guns about not snooping, since she was one of the few who was actually nice to Max. So I never even saw the pregnancy test. Later, reading through Max's journal, I saw she had drawn a positive pregnancy test, and was totally confused as to why - until reading the stats about choices at the end of the game.

    I have to say, I enjoy the line, "the simple decency of not picking up someone's pregnancy test." Not to mention considerations of sanitation!

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  3. I'm looking forward to this quite a bit, though I'm waiting for the full game to be released (I hate episodic games...its bad enough with Dreamfall Chapters and before that Fables). Hm I wonder if because I play so many otome and social link games like Persona if I'll have as many moral issues.

    Dad and I play point&click adventure games almost exclusively when we game together and we click everything, but I've learned in the last decade of otome game playing that it backfires BADLY to do that when there's social consequences...

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    1. Yeah, this whole episodic release thing is very annoying. Though does make it cheaper to 'sample' a game.

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    2. That's true...and I like that a lot of creators are using it as a way to improve on the game the further along it goes (I was never a fan of patches or "game updates"), but when you're fully ready to commit like 6-8 hours to a game, having only about 4 hours of gameplay--not including if sidequests, or different choices can be made--blows. i've now replayed Dreamfall:Chapters Part 1 like 8 times and it still is nowhere near the cumulative length I wish I could put into the game (or that I put into the first Dreamfall game).

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    3. Wow - that's a lot of replay! You'll be looking for the upcoming next release a lot, I guess.

      Hopefully, more of this type of game will come along - they really are one of the kind I find most interesting. I don't play as many otome games as you, I suspect. The ones that are close to straight visual novels I tend to find boring, but I like the ones where you have to improve your skills, and Long Live the Queen was definitely cool.

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