Life is Strange, Its Mechanics Stranger

Life is Strange Episode 1 Spoilers Ahead.

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A lot has been said about Life is Strange, the new point-and-click episodic adventure game by not Telltale Games, who currently run what is probably the largest game-genre monopoly in history, but rather by Dontnod Entertainment, makers of 2013’s Remember Me. As many have pointed out, some aspects of the writing leaves a lot to be desired. Many of the characters are walking clichés, there is some god awful “down with the kids” conversations that just do not work. It also has some very… odd lip-syncing issues. Despite this however, it does do a lot right: interfaces, presentation, a good value for money episode that doesn’t make you feel slightly cheated (cough cough The Wolf Among Us) or drags on too much. And I’ve enjoyed it too- I’m doing a Let’s Play of it on my channel, and as a big fan of both Point and click-style adventure games to more artistic works like Gone Home and Dear Esther, it’s a very welcome breath of fresh air in a market that was starting feeling slightly stale from an overload of Telltale products (I love you guys, really, but I’m beginning to feel a very definite air of derivativeness recently).

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“If only there was some law enforcement agency I could inform! Drat!”

The problem I have with Life is Strange, however, is a pretty big one. A pretty big, glaring gameplay mechanic that I feel simply doesn’t fit within the context of the story or game: time travel. Yes, our main character Max discovers during a pretty out-of-place school shooting (seriously, our main character should have maybe put more thought or worry into the fact that someone in her school is carrying about a loaded gun other than just maybe giving the headteacher a quick tip-off), that she has the ability to turn back time. This is essentially the main mechanic of LiS. You explore the environment, interact with people and make decisions like any other point and click. The difference, however, is that you can immediately undo each option with a  quick rewind. It makes for some novel puzzles here and there, but it leaves me with two big gripes. Continue reading

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