Life is strange is not really my favourite franchise, though its storytelling is very good. This is game, however, has made it to my favourites.
- thoughtful and emotional storytelling, a story with a point
- great concept: reading the emotions of people around you. You have to use the power a lot!
- a romance that works well for both hetero and same-gender
- lots of exploration – use your powers to examine past memories, people and objects, gain insight into Alex’s own story
- great, memorable ensemble characters
- clever RPG quests within a quest idea
- Ryan – he gets quality screen time and I absolutely love his scenes and special scenes.
- lots of food for thought, especially in relation to the superpower and emotions in general, the demons we fight
- can we forgive? Can we understand? Can we move on?
- Asian American protagonist who is rough but can be sweet and tough. She certainly is capable of strength as in being strong-minded and kind to people, even those she has problems with.
- one of the best ending sequences I’ve ever played: Some little details about it change depending on what you managed to accomplish in-game.
Alex is a girl with special abilities- she can read the emotions of others, see their auras, and empathise with them, sometimes to the point she gets overwhelmed. She comes from a broken household and at the start of the game arrives to finally settle down with her beloved brother. She meets a cast of a lovely mining town and makes friends, with Ryan. But when the son of her brother’s girlfriend goes missing, things start to happen and an avalanche of events reveals hidden truths and true colours about both individual characters and the town at large. The story is spread out over 5 satisfying chapters in which you need to explore the town, talk to people and help Alex navigate the mystery surrounding her brother and her own story while helping those around her.
You need to use Alex’s power a lot to not miss out on any hidden quests or memories, and it raises some interesting points to consider. The overarching plot focuses on Alex and her brother is a tense mystery that, like an onion, gets slowly peeled as we reveal “true colours” and unlikely people are revealed to be involved and very tragically. The pacing of the unfolding events spread out in a classic story structure is very good and the ending becomes tense, followed by one of the loveliest ending sequences I have ever played. Individual stories are also absorbing: Would you help a guy (called Mac) who makes stupid decisions because he’s jealous and his jealousy goes far – I did and I’m glad I did. He’s the one character who gets what he deserves anyway but there’s no point in antagonising him, he’s stressed and his life kind of sucks so I chose to be empathetic with him. There’s a girl, Riley, whose guardian is suffering from Alzheimer but she doesn’t want the girl to know. There’s a lovely guy called Duckie who seems all smiley outwards but hides sadness. There’s Jed, the leader of the community. And of course, there’s Steph and Ryan.
Steph has her own heartbreaking story, while Ryan is sweet and loyal, though his loyalty is ultimately brutally tested. He’s a great hetero romance option. Both romances seem to work really well, so if you are like me, a straight girl playing video games and looking for some good AND organic romance to go with good, meaningful plots, then this game and Ryan is a good choice. Though there are some dumb lines, like a scene in which the protagonist examines a hunting knife after a certain incident. Well, my response is: If things had been different, Alex, we would have had a game over.
Structurally, it is a quest and there’s even an RPG within the game so a quest within a quest that, to some extent is a foreshadowing. Very clever. And fun. There’s even a boss battle that actually looks like from an RPG.
As you explore and interact with everything you can, you can also take some time for introspective moments – sit down and reflect. Try it on the rooftop or by the lake when you get the chance. You can weed plants in the rooftop garden and help a whole host of nameless, generic NPCs – if you look carefully i.e use your power to look into their minds.
Unless you choose not to, because, to me, that is the question of the game. Do you choose to do this? Do you consider yourself a saviour of the world or do you want to be normal? If you want to find everything, though and get the most out of the story experience – the only tip you really need is to USE THE POWER on everything and anything you can.
The critical point is a council meeting at the end of the game. The characters who help may then choose to side with you. It’s fun to get there and not difficult, but there are things you can miss, and you have to use your powers as often as you can, on nearly everything. But as you do, you think about the danger to carries. For instance, would you take away someone’s anger or someone’s fear? The game made me think about a lot of things, especially about appearances, lying to yourself, running away from facing problems, and not being true to yourself and how that, in the long run, causes damage. It still surprises me how a person can escape facing the truth about themselves and conveniently lie for so long. Not just to people around you, but to yourself too. Also, how ironic how often upstanding characters prove to be rotten to the core, and how that can really shatter your world, a sense of happiness and security. It’s VERY interesting and well played out. Not patronising or preachy – instead it shows us and lets us decide for ourselves. Really got attached to Alex, Ryan and Duckie. None of the characters are EVIL, they are flawed, ambitious or greedy, or problematic but they are people with troubled feelings, and hopes.
As I said, the game’s ending sequence is one of the loveliest I’ve ever played, but the degree of how satisfying it is depends on what you managed to achieve through the game. You decide Alex’s fate and how happy you might be with it. It really does put you in the protagonists’ shoes. I think it’s worth noting that Alex and her brother seem to be Chinese Americans and their own story is very important. felt really sorry for them and even more, so their father because the administration/system do not seem to be kind to them. I’m not from the States so I don’t know how things work out there, I only know what I hear on the news and I think the game came at a very good time to try to draw attention to these issues.
Jed , Gabe and Alex’s father will stay with me for a very long time, as will Duckie, Alex and Ryan – let them have some peace.
Very much my kind of game, except I could do with less swearing, but I truly enjoyed the affecting and rich storyline, cared for the characters a lot, You won’t regret getting it if you like emotional, absorbing, well-developed and thoughtful stories with a kind protagonist (though some of her lines are dumb), good plots, memorable characters and very good romance that works for both hetero and same gender.