Life is Strange: Every choice is a double edged blade - Games Weekly

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Life is Strange: Every choice is a double edged blade

Episodic gaming is not a format of release commonly associated with major publishers or triple A titles. While it has actually been around in some form or another for a couple of decades, it wasn’t until the advent of Telltale Games, with the likes of Back to the Future, Walking Dead and Tales of Monkey Island, that the concept truly began to stake its claim as a viable means of development. It is however one thing to experiment with development for games that are based on existing popular media, and quite another to implement the idea for original IP, which is exactly what Square Enix and Dontnod Entertainment are planning to do with Life is Strange.

Split across five episodes with a planned delay of six weeks between instalments, Life is Strange will be a point-and-click adventure title that will see gamers play as Maxine Caufield, a high school photography senior who has returned to her hometown of Arcadia Bay, Oregon only to discover she has unlocked the power to rewind time. Initially used to save her estranged friend Chloe, soon both girls will “find themselves exposed to the darker side of Arcadia Bay” as they seek to solve the mystery behind the disappearance of another student.

While the plot may sound slightly generic at first, Dontnod are promising “a beautifully written modern adventure game” where the focus will be as much on the friendship between Chloe and Maxine as the mystery itself. Supernatural elements aside, Dontnod are hoping the settings, visuals and music (which will include a “distinct, licensed indie soundtrack”) will combine to create a story centred on the coming-of-age of the two girls, and how our choices affect who we are.

Of course the ability to manipulate time will have a drastic influence on each decision, with players having the option to rewind even while engaged in dialogue, allowing past errors to be erased and the optimal solution to be found. That’s the idea at least. The studio has stressed that even small changes can lead to significant differences, and a guiding theme behind the writing has been that every positive can have an unforeseen negative consequence, be it in the immediate or distant future. To that end, expect past decisions to haunt you across all the episodes, along with multiple endings that will depend on the choices you have made.

Life is Strange appears to be a game that draws heavily from other titles, especially Telltale Games’ past works and even Dontnod’s last release, Remember Me. While its inspirations may be clear though this is a game that appears to have plenty of promise on its own, with a clear identity and a very intriguing mechanic, if it is done right. By the time you read this the first episode will have hit the digital shelves, and adventure games would do well to keep this game in mind.

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