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Hack time in Life is Strange

Feb 23, 2015

By Alexander Cattani - G4 Canada

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Life is Strange: Episode 1Meet Maxine, a self-deprecating teenager who enjoys a love for skater boys, selfies and vintage photography. She spends her days jotting down angst-ridden passages in her diary and scowling at the popular girls in school. She's your typical millennial awkwardly stumbling through her formative years. All is normal in the life of Maxine, until she is inexplicably granted with the ability to rewind time.

Enter Life is Strange: Episode 1, the debut episode in a five part series of narrative driven exploration games developed by Dontnod Entertainment. These are the same folks who brought us the underwhelming 2013 title Remember Me. Similar to the likes of the highly popular Telltale games, Life is Strange heavily emphasizes player choice. Though, rather than being stuck with a decision and having to deal with the consequences, Maxine's gift of time manipulation gives way to a somewhat different experience.

Life is Strange: Episode 1This adds a layer of unnecessary forgiveness to the game, thereby squandering any type of urgency set up by the narrative. More than often not, I found my self at ease during heightened moments of tension, simply due to the fact that I can rewind time at my leisure. Hopefully, in future episodes we will see the narrative take more control. While the time dialing mechanic does deflate the dramatics, it is sill well-crafted and easy to use. It also makes seeing all the possible narrative options more convenient. 

Some things that the folks at Dontnod absolutely nail is the convincing feel of the world. I truly felt as if I was in the quaint Oregon town of Arcadia Bay walking the halls of the high school, chatting with my peers and trying to fit in with (or sabotage) the social elite. I immediately connected with Maxine and wanted the best for her. Unfortunately, I was pulled out by the abysmal writing at times, especially by a certain supporting character who uses the slang word "hella" with reckless abandon.

Life is Strange: Episode 1The script can sometimes feel like it was written by a person parodying "teen talk" rather than trying authentically to replicate it. This makes the writing come off as feeling forced, and on occasion even laughable. Also, at times, the delivery of some dialogue felt soulless and bland, as if I was interacting with a robot, rather than a person. Thankfully, this only pertains to a certain number of performances, with the majority of them being solid.

When it comes to gameplay, Life is Strange plays like most adventure games. You'll roam around a space, analyze various items and hear Maxine comment on them. Most items aren't significant to the plot but their inclusion fleshes out the world to make for a more believable setting. Whether it be discovering an old photograph or reading a gloomy diary entry, Life is Strange excels at attention to detail and is something I look forward to seeing more of in future episodes.

When my two and a half-hours with the first episode of Life is Strange came to an end, I immediately looked for the second episode's release date. Despite some narrative blunders and its all too forgiving time mechanic, Life is Strange: Episode 1 makes for a solid debut and should be checked out by fans of the adventure game genre.

Life is Strange: Episode 1 Life is Strange: Episode 1
Format: PS4
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
ESRB Rating: M for Mature (17+)
Official Site: http://lifeisstrange.com/index.php

Rating: 7.5 / 10

 
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About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.