Life is strange is a new episodic game from developer Dontnod (makers of Remember Me), and Chrysalis is the first of five episodes, introducing protagonist Maxine Caulfield aka Max, a 19 year old arts student. It is a third person, interactive game, unlike Telltale’s episodic games.
The game starts in a surreal nightmare, and when Max comes to she’s in her classroom, possessing the power to turn back time for a short duration, relive the moment and even make changes as she sees fit. The start could’ve been done better, but I guess the devs just wanted to introduce the game mechanism without wasting much time and get on with the story.
As Max goes about the campus, various stories emerge.. A missing girl, a bullying security guard, reunion with an old friend, and so on. All these stories are intriguing and feel interlinked. There’s a lot of people to interact with, each with their stories to tell. While some just add to the campus atmosphere and spirit, others trigger events. But, they all feel like they belong, nothing feels out of place, thus making exploration a joy. And, for a 2 hour game, there’s a lot to explore, read, photograph and discover, and it is highly enjoyable.
There’s tons of cool references too, both to music, movies and books, and it’s a pleasure delving in Life is Strange’s world. Though some of the elements and references seem forced, so as to sound cool, but then again, isn’t that a part of being 19.. A teenager trying to fit in among all the changes around him/her.
Similarities to Gone Home is what struck me the most. I was always comparing (which was unfair, nothing compares to Gone Home!!) and thus felt wanting, however this is a minor issue. The game, in itself, is very satisfying mostly because unlike Gone Home which was set in the ’90s, this is set in the present day. The game had me engrossed with it’s depiction of a 19 year old’s going-abouts today, and it was all believable, time turning aside, which is an interesting element to the game.
The first episode simply sets the stage for the story to come, and it does so very well. It’ll surely keep you eagerly waiting for the next episode, Out of Time, coming March 2015.