Life Is StrangeK. Praslowicz
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So sometime last winter I was perusing over the Playstation Network seeing what kind of free or inexpensive indie games where out there for me to kill some time with. Few minutes of browsing and one title named Life is Strange had a high rating, and a description that included “You are Max, a photography senior who saves her old friend Chloe by discovering she can rewind time.” caught my attention. It had a free demo so I downloaded it and gave it a try. Few minutes later I was sitting in a classroom listening to a photography professor talk about How Robert Frank was better than Diane Arbus, and something something about Jack Kerouac, and something something capturing romantic urban solitude of the 20th century poet while Max, the lead character, dodged paying attention by taking selfies.
While I’m into photography, an academic lecture on it didn’t hit me as fun at the moment. I ended up only putting a few minutes into it before putting the game aside.
Three or four months later I found myself yet again into a situation where I felt a new game was in need. The Life Is Strange demo was still installed, so I fired it up again. I must have not been feeling as much apathy over the photography world as I was able to make it through the lecture, and having Max fawn over carbon fiber tripods with ballheads that have a pan-lock, rows of Leica cameras on the shelf and other miscellaneous photography gear before getting into the main game. I’m glad I stuck it out.
While I wonder if this is indeed the very first video game to reference Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Cannibal Holocaust AND have extended dialog about selfies, I kind of found that there is arguably too much photography and pop culture references jammed into the dialog, I’ll let that slide, because once I got past it I’m finding one of the best story driven gaming experiences I’ve had in a while. Things get weird. Things get dark. The whole time all the characters feel 100% believable. But I’ll shut up because spoiler suck, and people who spoiler are indeed, the worst people.
Technically, it is an easy game to play. There has been no Quick! Enter this key combo or die! moments, or anything that requires and precision controller input. Mainly is it just a nice slow point and click adventure game that you can relax and take in at your own pace. What has really sold me on it though is the use of The Butterfly Effect in all the choices you are presented with throughout the game. So it because a nice big choose your own adventure story.
What I extra like choose your own adventureness of it, is that because the game is episodic, and as of writing this only three of the fife total chapters have been released. So even if I wanted to peek and see what the repercussions of a choice may be by looking it up on the internet, I can’t. This is an experience with video gaming that I haven’t had in a long time. Probably since the mid 1990s. I like it though. While episodic games have been around for a few years, this is the first one I’ve played. Only being greeted with theories and speculation when discussing the plot is a good change of pace. Weird how a feeling that I’m no stranger to as it is so prevalent in TV culture can feel exciting and new when applied to a new form of media.
I recommend you get it, and also talk a friend into playing it at the same time so you can discuss how your plot lines are different. Do it now and binge over the weekend as the next episode is released on July 28th.
And fine. I’ll be a terrible person and tell one spoiler. Frank was eating those beans.
Episode 4 Mini Review