Platform Played On: PS4
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Graphic Adventure
Release Date: October 20th, 2015
I’ve read numerous opinions praising this game’s narrative style over the years, but you know how the eternal backlog struggle goes: so many great games, so little time to play them. I was away on a work trip to a province of Canada with much lower sales tax than my own, and that’s where I picked up a copy of this game for cheap on my way back home. And, dude… am I ever glad I did! Mind = blown (when I finally got around to actually playing it, of course).
How Far I Got
To date, this was the easiest PlayStation Platinum trophy I’ve ever freaking earned. Over a weekend in February I binge played the entire game (14-ish hours), while making sure to snag all of the optional photo ops for my shiny trophy. The story delivery was so good! I just couldn’t put it down.
Games that start with lightning storms…. there is something special about games that start with lightning storms! Ahem. Yes, the game starts out with a cutscene of a massive tornado happening in the middle of a terrifying thunderstorm at a lighthouse location (awesome).
The protagonist, aspiring young photographer Maxine Caulfield, suddenly awakens from this nightmare to find herself in the middle of her photography class, dealing with typical teenage drama. From there, bad things go down in the women’s washroom and she discovers she can reverse time… leading to one hell of a time paradox filled adventure I’ll never forget.
The game unfolds over 5 different episodes that slowly ramp up the drama elements and introduce the diverse cast of characters at nice pace (no information overload like some games are guilty of). By the end of Episode 4, I was fully invested in Arcadia Bay’s future and the game had me totally by the feelz. Max doesn’t just have to deal with time and tornado related problems, her story is filled with many heavy topics such as suicide, mental illness, coping with loss, and bullying.
There isn’t much player controlled action in this one. It plays like a walking simulator of sorts. You make Max walk around the contained environments and interact with objects/NPCs to gather info and progress the story. The game does a fantastic job of revealing little world details through many random objects. There are also tons of optional photo op moments to find, giving some replay value for those who want to experience more of this world (or if you like Platinum Trophies a lot, like me). You won’t even notice that the game essentially a linear interactive film. So immersive!
The biggest hook in the game is that many of your choices will have some sort of consequence in future. Either with huge or insignificant implications to the main plot, for every action there will be a reaction… you know, butterfly effects and all that. Max will always reflect on any choice you make, which often made me feel like I made the wrong one… but that’s where time reversing powers come in handy! If you second guess yourself as much as I do, whoa, you are in for a ton of choice anxiety and rewinding.
To get picky (because game reviews shouldn’t be all positive, amiright? 🙃), the game’s character model graphics do feel a tad on the clunky side (slight Lego hair syndrome), but that doesn’t really impact the story experience (the heart of this gem). More evidence that super HD Ultra 20K graphics (yes, I made that up) are nothing more than icing on a game’s digital cake. I should definitely mention that the words highlighting interactable objects in the environment have a really cool hand written aesthetic to them, which fit well with Max’s notebook style journal system.
In the audio department, I was fangirling a lot over the fact that Max’s BFF Chloe sounds exactly like Aloy for Horizon Zero Dawn (probably because they share a great voice actress, Ashly Burch). Oh and expect to hear overuse of the hip teenage words like dude and hella (Yep, dude. I’m hella guilty of this in own writing.). Max, voiced by Hannah Telle, frequently blurts out what’s in her heart (F-bombs and all) and expect loads of sarcastic remarks from her. Something that certainly added to my enjoyment of the game! The game’s background music has a nice all American town feel to it, and complimented the design of Arcadia Bay’s areas quite nicely.
My Overall Biased Opinion
The moral of the story is that selfies save lives! Oh and don’t mess with time or fate might get cranky. The bullying themes really struck a chord with me as well. I was bullied so much during my school days that adult me has repressed the hell out of those memories. It was both painful and comforting to explore those high school drama topics in this game.
Something I was also pleased with is the romance parts of the story (something I usually detest in games). Your choices as the player shape Max’s sexual orientation and I think that’s awesome! Having the freedom to add a little bit of you to a main character in is fantastic, and a great way to add representation for all to video game stories. In my case, I flirted enough with both of the love interests to have my version of Max turn into an asexual character in my eyes. Meh to kissing and all that! My Max only cared about protecting her beautiful BFF bond with Chloe, and helping out her badass bro Warren.
Overall, my biggest complaint about this otherwise awesome game: any ending is hella unsatisfying, dude. It’s more about the journey, to be honest. And that journey is one hell of a trip through time! How far would I go to save my best friend’s life? The answer kinda shocked me…
SPOILERS AHEAD!!! You have been warned.
This section of my video game reviews is a way for me to remember my journey through a game. Major spoilers will be present here so please avoid this unless you’ve already played the game, or don’t have any plans to. Feel free to share any experiences you’ve had with this game in the comments area thingy below.
My Game Summary
More than covered in my Babblethrough series of posts, which can be found here:
- Life Is Strange – Episode 1: Chrysalis
- Life Is Strange – Episode 2: Out of Time
- Life Is Strange – Episode 3: Chaos Theory
- Life Is Strange – Episode 4: Dark Room
- Life Is Strange – Episode 5: Polarized
Favourite Story Moment
As much as I hate the unsatisfactory nature of the ending choice, I did have a huge d’aww moment when Chloe and Max drove off into the sunset (totally ignoring the fact the town is destroyed… and as per Aether‘s wise predictions, leopards may come to attack them later because fate wants Chloe dead).
Favourite “Oh S@#%” Moment
Oooo… this usual question I ask of myself in my reviews is tough. Hm. I can’t choose between these three:
- Kate’s suicide (I so failed her and I still feel awful about it 😦 )
- The alternate timeline where it shows that Chloe is now paralyzed from a car accident.
- When it’s revealed that Mr. Jefferson is the twisted freaking psychopath.
Not a whole lot of abilities here, but rewinding time was a fun feature and led to cool story moments.
The art gallery in Episode 5. It was so nice to think everything was going to okay there for a minute. Alas!
Chloe Price. She’s voiced by Ashly Burch (who happens to voice one of my all-time favourite video game characters, Aloy), she’s such a badass, and she reminds me a lot of my IRL BFF. I mean c’mon, I destroyed a freaking town to save her. I love you, girl!! You are hella awesome, dude.
Most Tedious Gameplay Moment
The shattered universe section near the end of the game where you have to avoid NPCs in an iteration of the junkyard. I kept getting caught because stealth is not my friend or usual playstyle.
Most Beautiful BFF Moment
After Max saves Chloe from the oncoming train and she promises to always have her back. That hug was so much d’aww! I love strong BFF bonds between characters.
PlayStation Trophies – 61/61
⚡Thanks for reading!⚡
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