Under normal circumstances when I’m interested in an episodic game, I wait until all of the episodes have been released and then play the whole game in one go. That’s one reason why I haven’t played the Game of Thrones adaptations yet. However, I heard so many good things about Life is Strange that I couldn’t pass it up.
One day after class, Max Caufield has the harrowing experience of seeing a young woman getting shot and killed. But the very next second, Max is back in the class that she just left. Putting the facts together to realize that she can time travel, Max now has her entire life turned upside down in ways she couldn’t predict.
Strong Tone Shift
Towards the end of episode 2, the story takes a very strong shift in tone. Initially I got the impression of “teenager with powers trying to figure out what to do”. A story that’s can be found on pretty much anywhere in the Young Adult section. However, towards the end of episode 2, the story begins to take on much more mature themes, ones that really don’t get approached very often. I want to tell you which themes, but that would be spoiling some extremely important plot details.
And then, just when you’re feeling comfortable, they do it again. The writing goes from mature themes to extremely things that were extremely dark. Some characters were so evil they left me wanting a shower afterwards.
These shifts in tone are by no means bad things. On the contrary, I am praising the writers’ skills in playing with expectations. Many writers strive and fail to reach that level of skill.
I’ve already mentioned flawed characters a few times in other reviews and for a good reason: I hate perfect characters. They bore me out of my skull. Having perfect characters can destroy most of a stories conflict and just make for a bland experience. As a result, I much prefer flawed characters.
Having established that, I need to point out the important difference between a character being flawed and a character being the emotional equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. While the overall plot has excellent writing, I found Chloe Price to be infuriating at times. I need to point out those last two words, “at times”. When the chips are down and things are looking at their worst, Chloe is willing to do whatever it takes to make things better, even at her own detriment. However, that is only a fraction of the time. For most of the game, Chloe is just constantly moody and angry. She allows her emotions to control her which causes her to make angry and bitter comments at the worst times, and that’s when her anger makes sense at all. Oh, and speaking of clouded judgement, when your time travelling best friend tells you “don’t do the thing”, that’s probably a good sign DON’T DO THE FREAKING THING!!!! …ahem Sorry about that. Anyway, you get my point about emotions controlling people and all that.
Bloody freaking murder, the amount of plot holes in this game are staggering. I know I started this review by talking about how good the writing was, but that was the skill from an emotional perspective. Later on when reflecting about the events from a cause-and-effect perspective, the plot starts unravelling. I realize that plot holes are bound to happen in just about any time travel story, but Life is Strange almost takes it too far. While multiple discussion forums have explained away some of the plot holes, I doubt all of them have been covered since there’s just so many.
While this game has plenty of negative points throughout, I believe that the positives outweigh them in the end. I do need to extend a word of caution though. This game has plenty of mature content, and I would dare say it borders on adult. I wasn’t exaggerating earlier in the review when I called a character evil. However, if you’re able to stomach something like that and willing to hand wave the more obvious plot holes, go ahead and give this game a go.