December 15, 2017

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Life is Strange: An Exercise in Choice

July 31, 2017


Once again I didn't really have an interest in Life is Strange, but one evening after work my husband surprised me with not only the game, but a special edition that includes a physical copy of the game's soundtrack. I didn't really know how to feel, but I jumped into the game on stream with my Twitch family.


This game is a masterpiece; a true work of art. It has a lot of lessons to teach, but it's up to you, the player, to decide what story you want to explore. 


Do you remember the choose your own adventure books from the 90's and 2000's? No? Okay so let me tell you a little bit about the medium. There were several authors in that time period who would write books where you got to choose the path that the lead protagonist would walk. You might come across a page that reads:


You choose to follow the vampire back to her abode. pg 37


You choose to stay with your friends. You're not really one to put your trust is something that might eat you. pg42


You would turn to the page of your choosing and the story would continue from there.


Life is Strange is exactly like one of those books. Every choice matters and each detail can result in a completely different story. You choose who you will help, how you will balance your relationships, who you love, who you hate, and whether or not to water your plants. I've heard a few people complain about the possibilities being to limited, but I found the world to be pretty open and free for the kind of storytelling they were trying to accomplish.



I can't really tell you much about the game without spoiling anything. What I can say though is that if only once play this game. You are free to love or dislike every character including the lead girls...there aren't many games that invite you to encourage a change in perspective that the character herself is struggling to balance. She second guesses everything always offering a 'devil's advocate' possibility. Could this be the decision that will lead to something incredible, or could this be the choice that leads to my destruction.


The artwork in the game is very fitting of the game. It can be a little odd to get used to, but ultimately it's lovely in design.



I have played the dog out of the soundtrack. It stays in my car, I know the words to most of the songs, and it's exactly the sort of playlist you would find on an epic mixtape. The original score is very well balanced with all of the indie music, and the story. The themes will play in your mind for days on end as you think about the choices you've made. Don't underestimate the power of a good soundtrack blended with recording artists and original work. It's there to draw you into the experience and it does it's job well.



The gameplay isn't much about technique. This game exists for the challenge of making important life changing and everyday decisions. You will agonize over the options. You will wonder 'should I have done that.' 


I would not recommend this game for anyone under 14. There's no escaping some incredibly heavy themes here. I won't go into details, but this game deals with a LOT of touchy subjects that really begs for some maturity. If you ever wanted to play a game with your kid that could really draw you into deep philosophical, moral, and difficult conversations then this will do it. I would even recommend it because it's a good opportunity for discussion.

In the end Life is Strange is a beautiful and complex game that is an experience. Play it.





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