I was going to play Life is Strange: Before the Storm, but that disc included the first episode of Life is Strange so I booted that up instead...and, it turns out that I already had Life is Strange (thanks PS+) so I've kept on playing the rest.
I had a saved game from 3(!) years ago, but that was only the beginning.
Wow, three years?
Time really flies.
In any case, I've already finished the first three episodes and I've really enjoyed it. It's a different kind of story that's told froma different point of view.
There's more puzzley elements than I'm used to when compared to, say, Telltale's games and Detroit. The achievements are all tied to taking photographs of certain moments/places/things and I enjoyed the clues you get in a little scrapbook of sorts (there's actually a lot of info in the scrapbook - lots of stuff to read).
Other than that...I'm SUPER surprised by the time-travel twist at the end of the 3rd episode and I'm really curious now to see where it all goes. I wasn't expecting a twist that big...
I'm playing this co-op and it's REALLY neat how some of the game's co-op stuff works... So far (we're just barely ready to leave the town):
a. Sometimes the characters have a (scripted) conversation with each other - each player can often choose their response to the other character. So, there's some agency and character defining there. Cool.
b. But, sometimes characters are talking to an NPC...and, they can DISAGREE with each other! What happens then? (e.g. Being asked what to do about something, both players disagree with each other in their character responses - so what should happen?) Well, you play a version of rock-paper-scissors against each other AND it is modified based on your character stats (you play until you get X points, how many points you get for a win is possible boosted by the stat). Super neat, and super elegant AND - I really like how it doesn't force the players to agree, but it settles the player disagreement in a way that moves the game forward and also feels like a game - but not a high-stakes one. So, each player can choose whatever dialogue choices/responses they feel better represent the character they are role-playing without worrying about it de-railing the co-op experience in any significant way.
I don't think I've seen a game as simple, yet as finely polished in its presentation, controls, etc. as this one. It's been a while!
It was simple enough to get into that I played through the first 3 worlds (which each have a lot of levels! But they can go pretty fast...) before realizing that I was done.
I'm still surprised by how simple the core gameplay is: you move a character from left to right and you can fire. You only fire upwards. Pop all the bubbles before time runs out and you clear the level. That's it.
Of course, there are more types of bubbles, and you can pick up different kinds of weapons that fire/behave differently. But, you only fire upwards. There's no jumping, sliding, ducking, etc. Super simple!
As I played, here are a few things I think the team got "right"
a. There's a quick-restart button. It's super quick, so when you mess up...
b. There's all kinds of incentives to try each level again for a better score - from leaderboards to "incentives" like telling you what score you should aim to beat.
c. The boss battles were interesting. It's always the same boss. You fight it on the wing of an aeroplane of sorts (a different location than all the regular levels) BUT the boss behaves differently each time and part of the fun is figuring out what to do and when for the boss fights.
a. The boss fights happen "en route" to the next "world". The first one came as a surprise - because it interrupts your "travel" to the next location on the world map. After the first I was kind of expecting it. But, I think it was a neat design choice.
Ok, I hit the goal I had set for myself and promptly deleted the game. I didn't spend any money, but I was somewhat surprised to read an article about how well the game seems to be doing commercially. I guess some people are really getting sucked in!
Playing a bit longer than I initially wanted was helpful in that I was able to gain access to another of the game's progression loops that was previously unavailable. When your hero hits max level AND has been "ascended" the maximum number of times a new tree opens up! You basically spend tokens to buy buffs for your hero - the tree is mostly linear but it does split and rejoin a few times. So, there are choices you have to make which is...uh...a little bit of choice in a game that otherwise is solely focused on more is always better and you just need the patience to get there.
So, I made as much progress along the way as I wanted though I'll admit the last week or so felt much more like a slog and progress with the building timers getting to days and more, which isn't really all that fun. In other words, I was accumulating resources faster than I could spend them in progressing other areas so it was starting to feel like I was wasting time/resources.