Life is Strange Episode One: Chrysalis Review - A Cliche Perspective
It was only a few months ago that I got a behind-the-scenes look at Life is Strange by DONTNOD Entertainment with Square Enix. Finally having the chance to get "up and personal" with its first episode is something I've been eagerly anticipating.
Life is Strange is an episodic story about Max Caulfield, who returns to her hometown of Arcadia Bay, Oregon after a five-year absence. She's a gifted teenage photographer attending a prestigious art academy, who soon discovers that's not her only "gift." She's a real teenager with real problems, who's shy, grounded, quiet, introverted - she has dreams and passion. She's caring of others around her, which makes her believable.
The rest of the cast of characters are an assortment of archetypes in a typical teenage setting. You have the jocks, the intellects, the "entitled," the loners, the stoners, and your average rebels--which is where Chloe, Max's childhood best friend, fits in. The adults who appear in Episode 1: Chrysalis, are truly disappointing from a moral standpoint.
Storyline and Gameplay
The soundtrack of indie-folk music is really fantastic. I could easily find myself listening to most of these tracks on my MP3.
The script writing and some of the voice acting, aside from Max, certainly are lacking. I did have to remind myself that it's a French adult writing the dialogue of an American teenager, which can be viewed as a "hit or miss" so-to-speak. Lines like "awesome sauce" are ones that I myself use quite frequently, so that I found delightful. Yet it's all an assortment of awkward and cliché dialogue of American teenagers. I found myself snickering most of the time.
Do American teenagers really sound like that?
Throughout the game, some decisions have consequences. Not all are immediate, as some will arise later on in future episodes - similar to the Telltale games. Max's rewind ability not only allows her to reverse time to change an event or decision, but also allows her to "transport" herself within an area ahead of obstacles. It reminds me of the 2004 movie Butterfly Effect--though I wasn't a fan of the film.
The game sets the stage for later conflict, the storm to come, and Amber, a young local woman who's missing. At the same time, the game makes everyone look like a guilty party. The gun-toting rich punk, the financially influenced principal , the psychotically paranoid stepfather - all part of characters who have plenty to hide. Max is also overwhelmed with her vision of the impending tornado on the picturesque town of Arcadia Bay and shares it with Chloe.
The graphics are beautifully hand-painted artwork. It's gentle and modern as if an animated storybook.
The game's first episode addresses what I believe may have been a sexual assault involving Chloe, that happened as a result of her drink being "spiked" with a drug at a bar by Nathan. She confides to Max that she passed out and awoke to her assailant standing over her smiling with a camera.
Arcadia Bay seems to be one of those towns where if you have money, you also have power and influence. So the thought of going to the police is as absurd as the principal's reaction to Max telling him about the gun incident. All these are things I find quite disturbing but they aren't unrealistic either.
Soundtrack and Graphics
The soundtrack of indie-folk music is really fantastic. I could easily find myself listening to most of these tracks on my MP3. The graphics are beautiful, hand-painted artwork. It's gentle and modern, as if an animated storybook. I appreciate the delicate look in a world of flashy video games.
Note: Something to keep an eye out for is that looking at various things such as a butterfly or a bird to take a photo are gems for any photographer like Max, and unlock achievements in the game.
Overall, I enjoyed myself, despite the weak and cliché dialogue. Max is truly a likable character, while others you just want to smack upside the head. I did have many "feels" for Chloe, since she's been through quite a lot of drama, but her attitude when she speaks makes that fade quickly. I was left wanting to know what will happen next, what will be the result of my choices. Will the step-douche (aka David) and Nathan get their's, and how did Max get this ability in the first place?
It's definitely worth a try. Life is Strange is available now on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, and PC.