Life Is Strange: Preview - Games Weekly

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Life Is Strange: Preview

Beyond meets Garden State’ would probably be our top line description of the latest project from Remember Me developer Dontnod. And you’d be right to be confused, because what does Zach Braff and his brand of soft hearted quirk have to do with a QTE-led episodic adventure starring a girl who can rewind time ?

Well our latest look reveals some similarities, not least in the approach to soundtracking. Indie folk is very much the order of the day, and it plays a prominent part: the music that lilts as you explore a suburban home is far more than background fodder, it's integral to the mood of the piece as a whole. Take into account that the setting is a high school student returning to her hometown and having to rebuild lapsed relationships, and you could almost line this up for a spot at the Sundance Film Festival.

The whole time-shifting aspect does throw a spanner in that particular set of works, though of course it sets protagonist Max apart from most girls her age. How she utilises her clock controlling talent thus far consists of tracking back to help her solve problems, hide from nosey step-parents, and re-do conversations that haven’t gone her way. It’s hardly undoing the bombing of Nagasaki, but these are the game’s very early stages.

Pacific blues
Life Is Strange has a distinct and rather charming art style: a sort of quasi-cel shaded, hand-drawn aesthetic that conveys personality without overt realism. And the ‘small town America populated by angsty teens’ is hardly well-trodden ground in gaming, and is already backed up by the audio approach. Its trouble is a seeming mechanical clumsiness in terms of the QTE led control scheme, and an interactivity level that makes Quantic Dream’s output look open world. Plus: consequences. Dialogue choices mean nothing if you can simply back up and redo them, so where does the game’s gravitas come from? The narrative Max and her friend Chloe investigate the case of a missing girl will need to develop some serious heft if your decisions are to carry any weight.

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