Life is Strange (PlayStation 4)
Life is Strange is an episodic story about a teenager named Max Caulfield, who has returned to her home town in order to study at a prestigious academy under a photography legend. Her life takes a strange turn one day when she sees a girl being shot in the school bathroom and learns that she can actually rewind time. She quickly uses these newfound powers to save the girl and snoop through everybody's stuff.
Note: This game contains foul language, drug use, sexual content, abuse, violent scenes, murder, and many other graphic subject matter. If any of those things make you very uncomfortable, I would not recommend the game.
Before long, Max learns that the girl she saved was actually her best friend Chloe from before she moved five years ago. Chloe has changed since Max left, becoming much more jaded with her life. On top of that, a student at the academy, and very close friend of Chloe's, Rachel, has gone missing. During the next week, Max and Chloe try to solve the mysteries surrounding the small town of Arcadia Bay, learn what happened to Rachel, and oh yeah, Max is having visions of a tornado wiping out the town too. Can her rewind powers help her save the day?
Life is Strange is very much like an interactive story or movie. Mostly you will be walking Max around Arcadia Bay, examining her surroundings and listening to her thoughts on the things she sees and the things that happen. There will often be long stretches of story during which time, and during conversations, you will be prompted to make a choice. Max is also a photographer and you can take multiple pictures of specific things during the tale. You can check your journal, text messages, character profiles, pictures, and a few other odds and ends from the menu.
The main stand out feature is Max's ability to rewind time. Made a conversation choice you didn't like? Chances are you can rewind it. In fact, the game will give you a symbol when you gain new, pertinent information and you can rewind to use it. The game will also show a little butterfly icon to show you very important decisions that have been made along the way. Max can only rewind to a short while before and leaving an area will generally prevent you from rewinding to before you left. Some crucial moments cannot be undone though, so don't rely on this mechanic too much!
This game takes place in the small town of Arcadia Bay. You will be at set areas at set time and can't wander to other locations, but you're generally free to explore the places you're in a decent amount, finding clues, talking to people, and whatnot. Some locations you will see often are the school, the dorm, Chloe's house, and a small diner. There are a few other places as well to help keep things a bit fresh.
(In no particular order)
Max: The main hero of our story, a girl who loves photography and can also rewind time suddenly.
Chloe: Max's friend, a troubled teen who feels disenfranchised with the world since her dad died and Max moved away.
Warren: A nice young man who is very in to science and also very in to Max.
Victoria: The school bitch, she often feels the need to compete with Max's art and put down others around her.
Nathan: An obviously troubled young man, Nathan is the person caught shooting the girl in the bathroom. Problem is that his family owns the academy.
Mr. Jefferson: The esteemed photographer and reason many of the students are attending Blackwell Academy, including Max.
Kate: A young religious girl who is often bullied and ridiculed by her peers, leading her to be quite depressed.
David: Chloe's step-father or "step-douche" as she puts it, a former military man who often bullies students and takes surveillance way too far.
Joyce: Chloe's mother. She works hard for her family since the death of her husband but isn't always aware of the issues with her new husband.
Rachel: Chloe's very close friend (possibly lover?) who has gone missing.
While the game is episodic, you can now purchase the whole thing together for about $20 USD. It's rather short and I guess if I wanted to make this overall section short, I would say it was good, but I'm glad it was $20. It actually gets considerably better towards the end, and there were some very emotional moments that packed quite a punch. While I didn't like many of the characters, with the exception of Kate, some of them did grow on me by the end of it. Certain sections of the game were unclear, the slang was annoying as were many of the characters in my opinion, and some times you could/couldn't rewind were odd. But the art style was quite interesting, and so was the story. I seem to be playing a lot of butterfly effect stories lately so that fit right in. I'd say it was worth the time and the money, I will probably replay it at some point, but it has some very obvious faults as well.