While I definitely got my share of kicks this year out of big-ticket releases like “Batman: Arkham Knight,” “Fallout 4,” and “Star Wars Battlefront,” my favourite game of the year was a little smaller, and a lot quieter.
“Life Is Strange” casts you as Max Caulfield, an average teenage girl at a prestigious arts high school who loves photography.
Early on, Max suddenly discovers she has the power to rewind time itself — a power she uses to save the life of her best friend, investigate the disappearance of a popular student, and try to make friends.
Don’t worry — there’s plenty of excitement. “Life Is Strange” starts off relatively quietly, with Max trying to figure out the limits of her new power while she settles in to her new life at Blackwell Academy. Suffice to say, everything builds to a climax, as mysteries are unravelled and threats revealed.
The way it works is, you as the player can rewind time over and over again, replaying important conversations and making new decisions, as many times as you’d like. But eventually, you have to commit to doing one thing or the other to move the game along.
It’s a game about choosing what you can live with. Do you tell a comforting lie or the whole ugly truth? Do you try to avoid responsibility, or do you throw yourself on a grenade for a friend? You can go back and forth, but you eventually have to pick a decision and stick to it.
Which is where the real genius comes in. Each choice you make compouds in on itself, meaning that a small decision in Episode 1 can mean the difference between life and death — literally — by Episode 4. And your actions, however well-meaning, may not have the long-term effects you were looking for.
There’s plenty of drama, madness, and intrigue, just not a lot of twitch-based action.
I don’t want to spoil the game’s overall plot, because watching the plot threads unravel is one of its greatest joys. Plus, the choices you make early on really do affect how later episodes play out. And while the ending itself is, no lie, a bit of a letdown, the journey to get there is more than worth it.
Besides, after years of playing as grizzled survivors and hardened warriors, it’s nice to play something a little different once in a while.
Originally released episodically from January through October of 2015, you can pick up the complete “season” of “Life Is Strange” digitally for PC, the Microsoft Xbox 360 or One, or the Sony PlayStation 3 or 4 for $19.99. Or, if you prefer boxed software, “Life Is Strange” is getting a physical release in mid-January 2015.
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