Life is Strange initially released in 2015 to critical acclaim with a remastered version releasing just a year ago in 2022 for current generation consoles. It was released in an episodic fashion, with 5 episodes in total, completing the first game in the series.
I’d venture to say this is Don’t Nod Entertainment’s best work to date as I’m sure many fans of this studio’s work would agree. This seems to be the game that put the studio on the map. I’ve yet to play the other games in the Life is Strange series but I’m excited to see how they differ.
I got to the party a little late; I played Life is Strange a couple of years after it was originally released. Of course, I wasn’t writing back then, so I never got a chance to voice my opinion of it. I remember enjoying it quite a bit, but I only vaguely remembered bits and pieces of the story. This remastered version was the perfect chance to hop back into it.
While Life is Strange Remastered isn’t without its issues, it is a very enjoyable experience from start to finish. As I try to get back into writing reviews like this and remaining objective, I will do my best to avoid any major spoilers for the game for those who may want to try it for themselves eventually.
Unique Story Premise
Life is Strange’s narrative was pretty creative at the time of its initial release as not many other games have tried such a thing. It’s essentially all about time manipulation; the main character, Max Caulfield, discovers that she has the ability to warp time and space to various extents throughout the story. This makes for very interesting gameplay sequences that we will get into soon.
That’s not all, though. The game takes place at a school called Blackwell, where very eerie things seem to be going on, and everything is not as it seems. From students going missing to faculty being very creepy as if they have something to hide, you’re never quite sure what will happen next. This ultimately keeps you on the edge of your seat as each episode comes to a close.
Without going too in depth to avoid spoilers, Max discovers her power when she is caught in the middle of a life and death situation and saves another person’s life at the beginning of the story. From here, many things happen that make you question your morals as the choices are mostly up to you.
Overall, the story is incredibly engaging, and the concept of being able to change certain events, sometimes multiple times, is pretty unique. I should probably mention that it’s worth having some tissues nearby as it can be rather emotional at times. Real tear-jerker here.
You play as Max Caulfield, who we have already mentioned, has the ability to alter the past. Aside from Max, you meet several other characters who will certainly leave a lasting impression. Most notable is another main character named Chloe Price.
Chloe Price is Max’s best friend in the story, and their personalities are pretty much total opposites. Max is rather shy and timid while Chloe has an outgoing and rebellious personality. The two of them, despite their obvious differences, are the perfect pair of friends. The chemistry here is something special.
You will also come across many characters who you may hate immediately but become quite fond of throughout the story. You may start to understand these characters better and take their side. This sort of self-reflection and character development was brilliant. To make the player hate a character and then think to themself, “You know what, this person isn’t that bad,” or even feel bad for them at some point takes tremendous talent.
There are, of course, many minor characters you may or may not click with depending on your preference of personality types. Every character seems to have a distinctive personality, which does add a lot of variety to the dialogue and options.
Simply put, your choices can hurt or help you in the game. Even seemingly insignificant choices in general conversations with people can have large repercussions later on in the story. The game is all about the freedom of choice. Choices can often lead to life or death situations, so it’d be wise to take your time when exploring the environment and talking to others.
As I previously mentioned, Max can manipulate time and rewind back to certain points to give certain situations another try. This isn’t always the case, however, as sometimes her power can become limited. This makes you proceed into situations with caution at times. During these times, the past may come back to haunt you. So yeah, be careful with what choices you make.
Mental Health Themes
One of the things I admire the most about the game is its openness about mental health. Several characters suffer from some form of mental illness, and it may not be entirely clear to everyone else, but it’s something I appreciate that they included.
There’s themes of depression which is definitely the biggest one as this eventually leads to a confrontation with a suicidal character where, again, your actions really do matter.
Having played this game a couple of times now, I’ve seen both sides of what happens after this situation happens, and either way, it really impacts the atmosphere at the school as everyone reflects on what happened and the events that led to it.
Not many games represent mental health, so I definitely commend Don’t Nod Entertainment for including it in Life is Strange. I wish more studios would take note of how helpful it can be to those who suffer in real life to have a representation of what they go through in a game that they enjoy. It makes you feel heard, and your feelings become valid, and you don’t feel so alone. That, in itself, is powerful.
Honestly, the only things I can negatively say about this remaster are the graphical glitches. I’m not entirely sure if these were an issue in the original version of the game, but they are a nuisance in the remaster. They aren’t in every cutscene, but they do take you out of the experience when they do pop up every now and then.
Things like character models shaking up and down while in conversation were a cause for concern as I thought my game was going to crash. Luckily, I never did crash, but these problems did break the immersion until the scene ended and the shaking stopped.
Also, there were at least 3 times that the corner of my screen was lit up by a very bright and neon green and pink light. I thought it might’ve been intentional during scenes in the daytime, but it also happened during scenes at night, so now I see it was more graphical issues.
If you love a good story-driven game and you haven’t played Life is Strange, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. I believe it’s been added to PlayStation Plus if you have that subscription, so you may already have access to it. If not, the game itself is very inexpensive, and you can typically get it for cheap.
I can’t recommend this game enough; the story, the characters, the themes, they all mesh together to create something beautiful. It might have a couple of graphical issues at times, but those can be looked past as the rest of the game is totally stellar.
Verdict: 9 – Amazing
Have you played Life is Strange? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!
I haven’t played it but I just added it to my list of potential games to play. The way you describe it reminds me of Beyond: Two Souls.
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Beyond: Two Souls is a personal favorite of mine! It is sort of similar. I hope you enjoy it!
I loved it as well. It’s a good game if it makes you laugh, cry and wonder if you’re playing a video game or watching a movie all at the same time.
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Couldn’t agree more!
That looks like a lot of fun and an exciting story.
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