Life is Strange: Episode 1 - Chrysalis

Life Is Strange: Episode 1 - Chrysalis has exceeded all expectations of a seemingly humble story like this

By Artemis, Posted 30 Apr 2015

Life Is Strange is a very odd game that not a lot of people saw coming. From Dontnod Entertainment, the studio that brought us the well-meaning yet forgettable Remember Me, comes the first episode of a game that is impactful and emotionally resonate with its targeted audience. Life Is Strange is a largely story-based game, which means it is less about killing enemies and more about exploring the world you're in and interacting with the story at large. Life Is Strange: Episode 1 – Chrysalis is an introduction to the game's world, story and characters that leaves the player wanting to find out more by episodes end.

You play as Max, a young woman who wakes up from a nightmare in class about how a tornado is about to hit their town of Arcadia. After talking to her teacher and her classmates, Max walks to the bathroom only to witness a young woman getting shot in the stomach by a rich upper class boy named Nathan Prescott. Once again she wakes up, and what she wakes up with is the ability to reverse time. She's able to rewind the decisions she's made and go back and talk to people in order to make a better first impression. The first thing she does with this ability is to go back to the bathroom and save the girl, which changes the course of her entire life. It's not the first time we as an audience have seen this story, but it's one of the first times we've seen it from the point of view of a young lady who's a photographer, which adds an extra layer to what's going on. Since Max wants to take pictures and depending on certain picture she takes, she can affect the course of the entire story.

Life Is Strange dancing on a bed

Max attends a school called Blackwell Academy where all the very talented students go to school. Our lead heroine doesn't use a digital camera like her peers, instead using a rather vintage camera from the 1980's. She's a teen that claims that she wishes she was born in another generation. With all of the nostalgia references she does and the odd lingo, you really do believe that she's a teenager, which may be a turn-off for some. The teenagers in this game are believable, rather than what a studio thought teenagers acted like. They all have issues, they're all snarky, but have a softer side as well and they make mistakes. For anyone who hates teenagers, particularly those obsessed with nostalgic things, then this game may be a turn-off.

The first episode feels like you may be playing through the beginning of an independent film about a girl who just happens to get time travel powers. The way the characters are shot, the scenery looks stylized; in cutscenes, the camera angles often focus on little bits of scenery, rather than the characters. All show signs of being part of the independent film scene. It's mostly with the first episode, but at times you'll catch yourself wondering if you're playing through a Sundance Film Festival entrant. Especially with the soundtrack, which has countless guitar tracks with men singing songs with lyrics that seem very relevant to your current situation, which is somewhat odd.

The gameplay itself is very much like an adventure game: you go from place to place touching everything you can to hear your character's quips and observations on them. Instead of using random items to solve puzzles, however, you use normal items to solve practical problems. Grabbing a bucket to get someone to move or turning on the sprinklers to ruin their day. Nothing outlandish: just normal problems that are solved through practical means. And time travel.

Life Is Strange conversation

Max can rewind any conversation and go back on what she said in order to see the other outcomes. At the end of every big decision, Max (like any teenager) will question if her decision was the right thing to do, showing an indecisiveness that can be a little grating at times. With each rewind you can use the information you have found from the negative conversation to rewind time and make it a positive one. Or you can rewind a decision you may regret and pick a different one rather than loading a different save. This is useful because like many games of its kind Life Is Strange is a game that has a story where many of your actions actually mean something. If you tell someone something, you better be ready for the repercussions. You could help out a friend, but that may end up making you look bad in the future, so you need to make your decisions with the utmost certainty. The effects it has on the world as a whole may be little right now, like getting an angry text from your mom or having your friend not want to open up to you, but down the road it may change how other characters look at Max.

There is no explanation about where Max's powers come from in the first episode, all we know is that she now has them, and everything she does will have a consequence. There are no right or wrong decisions that Max can make, there are just decisions that the player makes that determines how her story is going to play out.

As an added bonus, the player can go back through each level and collect the collectibles that unlock achievements. They don't have to trigger any cut scenes, unless the collectible requires it, and them going back and getting it doesn't affect the story at large. It's just a separate mode for those who want to 100 percent the game and see all the weird and quirky things that Max has to say about each and every thing.

Life Is Strange: Episode 1 - Chrysalis has exceeded all expectations of a seemingly humble story like this. It takes an older concept and adds some freshness to it to make it seem new again. While Max may be indecisive and grating at times, she's a fun main protagonist to play as. It should be interesting to see where her powers lead her in the next episode.

Angelina Bonilla, NoobFeed (@Twitter)

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher(s): Square Enix
Developer(s): Dontnod Entertainment
Genres: Cinematic
Themes: Interactive Drama
Release Date: 2015-01-30

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