Lucien’s Review: Life is Strange: Episode 1

Life is StrangeWhen I first heard about this game, I was hearing from people that it was “SJW: The Video Game.”  But I don’t go with what other people tell me.  I make up my own mind.  I knew that this game intrigued me, and that I wanted to know more about it.  My interest was piqued in a big way, because the game seemed to combine The Walking Dead style episodic formula with Braid style time mechanics.  In fact, that is a good description of this formula, so far.  For those who are too lazy to try this for themselves, you don’t know what you’re missing.  I will say this – it isn’t SJW: The Game.  It is its own thing, and it is pretty freakin’ cool.

The plot follows a girl named Max.  She wakes up in a place where she sees a giant tornado destroying everything, and then she’s back in her classroom.  Following a trip to the bathroom, where she sees a girl get murdered, she wakes up again in her classroom.  It is then that she realizes the truth – she can alter time!  Thus begins a mystery that involves her, the young lady who got killed, and a web of conspiracy that affects all kinds of people.  Where will it end?  Nobody can say for sure.

A few things to know about this game – it is made using the Unreal engine.  Anyone who has seen that knows that that means that it can have some muddy textures.  Thankfully, Square Enix used that to the game’s advantage.  This game has a unique art style.  I won’t say that it’s comic book-esque, because it’s not.  But it is unique.  I think the idea was to borrow from The Walking Dead.  That is all over this game, but I don’t think that it’s hurt by that too much.  The characters all have a unique look, but there is a flaw that comes with it.

The lip-synching in this game is TERRIBLE!  No joke, the mouths almost never move to match the words.  It’s almost like watching an anime, in that regard.  While I can look past it with anime, it does irk a little here.  Especially for some of the more intense dialogue bits, where you are thinking to yourself – your audio says one thing, your lips say another!  I wouldn’t gripe on that, but it’s a constant issue.  For real, it never stop being noticeable.  I wish I could ignore it.

Next up, there are the mechanics.  Like I said, this game takes rather heavily from The Walking Dead.  You have a little more control over where characters go and what they do than in that series, but anyone familiar with that story will recognize the scheme for how you do things.  It’s almost copy-paste, in places.  That would detract from the game, but the story is engaging enough so that you don’t constantly have that in the back of your mind.

Which brings us to the characters.  This can be pretty hit-or-miss.  Part of that is because of the dialogue.  This is VERY much a product of its time period in that regard.  The characters delivering the dialogue are giving it their very best, but something about hearing the term “awesome-sauce” just makes me think of Internet lingo.  It’s all over this game.  But, as I said, the people delivering the dialogue are giving it their all.  This wasn’t half-assed.  Max is a sweet enough character.  You grow fond of her mousey-ness, and the girl who she was saving comes to be a very central character.  There is some history between her and Max, which plays out very well.  The conflict between them made me think of Ellie and Riley, in the Left Behind dlc to The Last of Us.  I wonder if they are going to go that route?  I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.  There are some character who fall a little flat, but overall, it works.

Now, does the plot work?  I think it does.  The mystery is just starting, but I think it has a good set-up.  I do admit that there is an impending doom element that may hold it back, but I’m not going to judge this before I see the rest.  It could end up being pretty awesome.  We’ll have to wait and see.

For an episodic series, I think that this one has a great start.  It has a couple of minor flaws, but those aren’t enough to be a deal-breaker for me.  If you like this kind of story-telling with games, I’d say that this is worth your $5.  Take that for what you will.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

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