This here post was written by lovely internet guy, Lewis Clark. He can normally be found writing about Sega games over here: http://www.segadriven.com/ or talking about aggressively loud music here: https://ukscumscene.wordpress.com/ or posting pictures of Japanese Hamsters on his Twitter. He’s a pretty busy guy.
How are you with crying? I don’t cry very often. I don’t mean that in an ‘I’m a manly man’ way, I just mean I’m not regularly moved to tears. I’ve never cried at a game and I’ve only cried once while watching a film and I’ve seen some horrific shit in my time. One of my favourite films is Oldboy for Christ’s sake.
So when I finally decided to pick up indie look-em-up game Life is Strange, I can’t say I was prepared to be moved to tears, but here we are. I fucking lost it during the final episode. Proper streams of salty eye juice running down my haggard, cheese-grater of a face. Because of that I’d happily say Life is Strange is one of the greatest video game experiences I’ve ever had and it marks a point where a video game narrative finally engages on the same level as cinema or television.
Video games have spent decades chasing a coherent and dare I say ‘mature’ narrative experience and there have been some valiant attempts with most falling into the sort of comedy/adventure area (Broken Sword and Monkey Island for example). Unfortunately, ‘serious’ plots that are more akin to drama and thrillers are harder to come by (The Walking Dead being the most notable) and we all fell into David Cage’s horrible trap with Heavy Rain which promised a lot more than it could ever deliver.Thankfully, Life is Strange takes the best option with its narrative and removes a lot of the minor choices that plot-heavy games tend to get bogged down in and focuses on the important stuff instead.
Life is Strange’s story centres around Max and Chloe; two college outcasts trying to find their place in the world while feeling like their isolated hometown of Arcadia Bay is strangling them as human beings. It’s a fantastically delicate tale of growing up and finding what’s important in life and it’s wonderfully introspective in its approach to writing its characters. Max is a nervous, introverted girl who enjoys photography and unwittingly discovers she has the power to reverse time. Her terrified bumbling through the ordeals of her life will be extremely relatable to anyone who’s had difficulty deciding on career choices at such a young age. Max wants to find her place in this world but she needs a character like Chloe to bring out the strength in her. It’s a wonderful relationship that will have you rooting for both characters.
Things change in Life is Strange. Its wonderful time-travel gimmick which allows Max to adjust her decisions in times of importance, allows the player to consider their choices more carefully and make a greater connection to Max and the characters and events she has direct contact with. I don’t want to spoil any of the trials and tribulations that the game throws at you but it moves into an area I could never have predicted and its impact is considerably more moving because of this.
Life is Strange is a game that must be experienced by fans of adventure games but more importantly, fans of great writing. Anyone who has ever been gripped by a great drama will have a lot to enjoy if they give Life is Strange a go and it’s one of the few games where I can actually see a bridge into other entertainment mediums. Even if you don’t want to play it, I’ve heard a few stories where passive onlookers have simply wanted to see how Life is Strange pans out which is a wonderful compliment to the strength of its writing.
But my word; that ending. Those endings. I don’t think any game that attempts to do what Life is Strange does will ever have the same impact but as one of the first truly successful attempts at a mature narrative, Life is Strange stands out and that’s why it’s my game of 2015.
Oh, it was Toy Story 3 by the way.