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    dkirschner's Life is Strange (PC)

    [January 4, 2017 10:57:06 AM]
    HUGE plot twist at the end of episode 3. My girlfriend had been saying that the game was interesting and she really wanted to keep playing to find out what happens, but that she didnít feel invested in any of the characters. The end of episode 3 changed that. It had us thinking about some crazy butterfly effect scenarios. I had predicted generally what I thought was going to happen at that point, and I was right! Sort of. I just keep thinking back to the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode where Homer goes back in time through the toaster and keeps altering the future Ė one where it rains donuts, one where Flanders is dictator of the world, one where everyone is a lizard person, etc. For my part, Iíve was invested in the characters at least since the end of episode 2 (really touching scene).

    One comparison weíve made to The Walking Dead is that character emotions in Life is Strange arenít animated that clearly. You canít see subtleties well. It makes it hard to discern what exactly a character is thinking or feeling about another character or an event, or to gauge sincerity and other things. Allison says that makes her care less about them. I like how they present these archetypal characters (high school jocks and cheerleaders, punk rock girl, paranoid war vet, cool teacher, etc.) then turn a lot of them on their head so characters are never quite how you stereotype them.

    Some of the rewind time puzzles are really clever. The game, while surprisingly mundane for large part, consistently surprised me with moments of ďwhat!?Ē and ďwow, that is cool!Ē One part has you and Chloe breaking into the principalís office. I keep realizing what Max is doing (or what Iím making her do) with her time powers just as Chloe realizes it. Reminds me of when I realized Max had powers as Max was realizing it. Itís weird. In a good way.

    Weíre still trying to figure out exactly how the story branches from options we didnít choose, but weíll wind up online for that (did other players kill Pompidou??). Oh, one thing that is wonderful about Life is Strange is that because of the time rewind power, you can always choose every major dialogue option and see how it plays out. In fact, after making a choice and seeing what happens, Max will usually second guess her choice and wonder if the other option(s) would have been better. You rewind, choose another, see what happens, then just go with the one you think is best. Itís great because itís actually part of what the character can do, not just a gameplay mechanic. Like, Max actually IS rewinding time to play out her other options and considering them all JUST LIKE YOU ARE. Itís so neat.

    We beat the game last night, and in the end, we agreed that it was worth playing, beautiful art and music, great character development, and all around impressive narrative in a video game with the rewind time mechanic. Sure, Max and Chloe make some stupid choices that don't make sense (call the police, geez!), but given the amount of dialogue and characters, it's great. But, if it wasnít a video game, the story would be sort of blah. Iíve read/watched/played a hundred things about time travel, the butterfly effect, and chaos theory. Theyíre almost always neat because these are almost inherently cool ideas. We liked the end, both of the murder mystery plot and the tornado plot, though Allison claims she called who the killer was in the first episode (She said it but also said a lot of other people!).

    Also, the game started to drag on and on. I think it could have been several hours shorter. I was getting tired of the long dialogues between Max and other characters especially in the midst of really urgent events. Toward the end, these dialogues were really saccharine sweet and cheesy, and Max and Chloeís ďbest friends foreverĒ stuff was irking me. I guess we all had friends like that (or maybe you were that friend), but I donít relate.

    I donít want to go into details about plot because spoilers, but weíll be talking about it for a few days Iím sure. Our big question was which ending is canon? And also, we wanted to know likeÖwhy/how did Max get time rewind powers? And what happened to people and Arcadia Bay after the game is over? Some pretty big questions left open. But the character relationship stories were wrapped up. Yay!
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    [December 31, 2016 03:11:11 PM]
    First impressions of Life is Strange are positive. Itís definitely something that was super hyped up for a long time before Iím getting around to it, which is sometimes a detriment to the experience. I immediately notice similarities to other media like Twin Peaks, Gone Home, and Telltaleís The Walking Dead. I also see a hefty dose of Steven King (found Cujo, Carrie, and The Shining references so far) and other Steven King-influenced media like Alan Wake. Itís actually very funny because Iíd *just* finished Twin Peaks an hour before starting this and didnít know they were related. Sidenote: The last chunk of episodes of Twin Peaks are terrible. Once you know who killed Laura Palmer halfway through Season 2, just stop watching and pretend itís over.

    We are 1.75 episodes deep into Life is Strange. Episode 2 is about to be over. You play as a high school girl at a private school for photography. Sheís just left home to attend, but she did grow up there, and her old best friend is still around. Long story short, you find out you can rewind time. You, the player, realize that you can rewind time along with the character, and it is brilliant how they facilitate this double realization.

    The high school (or I guess I should call it like boarding school) is fleshed out. The game explores the cliques, the teacher-student relationships, even the mysterious behaviors of the principal and the groundskeeper. Like Twin Peaks, everyoneís business is all interconnected. The security system that the school security guard wants to install might be a good thing because there was (maybe) an abduction and there is serious bullying and crime going on, but he might be a seriously creepy dude and seems paranoid after his service in the military. There are a lot of rich kids, it being a private school, and one of their families basically owns the school. Therefore, the kid can get away with a lot, and he does, and the principal tends to take his side on things.

    Your character is looked at by others as an outsider, and this is definitely a theme of the game. Itís already dealing impressively with heavy stuff like drugs, sex, rape, assault, teen suicide, guns, broken families, depressed towns, and in the midst of all this thereís some supernatural stuff going on and this slowly growing feeling of dread that something bad is happening in the town of Arcadia Bay. I imagine the power is a metaphor for growing up or adolescence (episode 1 is called Chrysalis). Nonetheless, the game is beautiful, and capturing interesting moments in time through photography is encouraged.

    One of the most impressive things is the feel of the high school and all the students. The writers did an outstanding job creating teenagers. Sure, some of the things they say are awkward or dated already (slang is like that, especially now), but it sounds quite authentic. They have their cliques, which are very archetypal here, and they all interact with one another in and out of class. Thereís tons of drama that you can participate in, and many of your choices have consequences. These are usually small, but there are bigger ones too.

    Canít wait to see where this goes. Thereís a lot to explore and items to poke around and look at, like Gone Home (but with less repetition), and it makes the world feel full and lived in. The pace is slow, and not a whole lot has happened aside from high school drama so far, but I expect it to pick up.
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    Status

    dkirschner's Life is Strange (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Friday 30 December, 2016

    GameLog closed on: Wednesday 4 January, 2017

    Opinion
    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Excellent, intriguing, deep world. Very Twin Peaks. ------------ Worth playing, goes long and gets super sweet though.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

    Related Links

    See dkirschner's page

    See info on Life is Strange

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