Video Game Review: Life is Strange

“Life Is Strange” is an episodic video game that has only recently reached its conclusion with the release of its fifth part this past October. Developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Square Enix, it is a graphic adventure following the week-long events surrounding the protagonist, Maxine Caulfield. Originally from the town of Arcadia Bay, Oregon, Max left town five years prior with her family to live in Seattle, only to return to attend the prestigious Blackwell Academy for her final year of high school as a photography student.

The game opens up to a nightmare Max experiences, where she is faced with a gigantic tornado ripping apart a lighthouse near where she stands. Waking from the dream, Max regains her composure in the middle of a photography lecture in class. Further stressed out by her professor urging her to enter a contest of sorts, she makes her way out into the hallway and then the nearby bathroom, seeking some small solace.

However, she is only met with more horror when, after taking cover in the back of the bathroom, a hysterical Nathan Prescott wanders in, followed by a blue-haired girl pressing him for money. Things get heated and Nathan, brandishing a pistol, shoots the girl. Max reaches out in vain as though to stop the fired bullet, and is mysteriously pulled back in time to where she awoke in the classroom after her nightmare not more than half an hour previous.

Determined to change the outcome of the events for the better, Max uses her newfound time reversal power to save the girl Nathan shot, who she later recognizes as her childhood best friend, Chloe Price, whom she knew before her departure for Seattle so many years before. With their reconnected friendship, Max confides her new power and vision-nightmare to Chloe, and Chloe reveals that the missing person whose posters are plastered all over town are her responsibility due to the disappearance of her friend Rachel Amber, and the two of them go about investigating just what is happening in Arcadia Bay.

The five episodes follow the girls and their escapades in discovering the source of Max’s power and the whereabouts of Rachel Amber, all through the control of the player by the choices and rewinds made by them. Saving her friends from harm both big and small, Max does her best to do right by the people of Arcadia Bay, but she discovers all too soon that being a superhero is no simple task. Opening new realities at many twists and turns, she bends and trades truths, seeking the most desirable of them all, trying to minimize the destruction.

The conclusion to the series, in my opinion, does right by the player. The culmination of the hours invested in it bleeds down to one final choice on Max’s part, and can realistically go either way. The ten month long wait from the game’s inception in January is made worth it in the end. It easily earns a high ranking on my list, and is so very worth the time and money to play and enjoy.

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