Hello everyone! Today I’m reviewing a few games from the Life is Strange series, specifically the first game as well as Before the Storm and Farewell.
I’ve wanted to play the LiS series for a long time. When I saw the earlier games in the series were available in the PlayStation store for sale I did buy the bundle. I haven’t played the new Life is Strange 2 game as that wasn’t in the bundle I bought but I do want to play it sometime. Since these games are older I am not planning to avoid spoilers. So here is my review!
Life is Strange
I started with playing the original Life is Strange game. This game was originally released in 2015 and was available on PS3 but I didn’t play it until I had a PS4. I did try the Android version of the game before but only played the first chapter as that was the only one that was free on the mobile version. I had seen a play through of this game before, so I did know how to get certain things to work out but I did have to play several parts over again to get all the photographs!
A short description: the story follows Max Caulfield, a photography student in Arcadia Bay, Oregon who discovers she has the ability to rewind time. The game takes place over a week in Max’s life, during which is reconnects with her childhood best friend Chloe Price, investigates the disappearance of Rachel Amber, and tries to survive as a 12th grader at Blackwell Academy. As the game progresses, Max’s powers become more and more impactful.
One of my favorite things about the game was watching Max’s character development. Max starts the game as a very timid young woman, but once she discovers her powers and reconnects with Chloe she grows so much in just a week. I found myself wondering if her confidence was growing as a result of her powers or if her powers were growing because of her confidence. At first she can only rewind a few seconds but eventually she is able to slow down enough that she almost stops time, is able to go back in time by years if she focuses on a photo, and even create alternative realities. She also becomes a lot more direct and even confrontational with characters such as Victoria or Mr. Jefferson as the story evolves.
As for the story, it was a really interesting plot. I did find Max’s early fascination with the missing Rachel to be confusing as she didn’t know her but it did make it easier for her to transition to actively searching for her when Chloe made it clear how important Rachel was to her. Having Max as a student was great as it did place a great time frame on the story, when she kept having Chloe take her back to school for her classes and having her have to sneak around and do their work either at night or during times when students were likely to be in or out of their dorms depending on their need for it. I also liked the variety of locations. The school had a few places such as the dorms, classrooms, grounds, pool, and more. But then there was also the diner, Chloe’s house, the beach, the dark room, and so on. It was really nice to be able to explore it all.
The gameplay was pretty great too, most of the game felt like a little movie and none of the puzzles were particularly hard, especially with Max’s powers. It was really easy to get through, and I liked being able to make different decisions if I wanted. I rarely went back to change stuff unless it was part of the story, the puzzle, or when the conversation unlocked another option that would make for a better conversation. I didn’t change the big decisions I made I don’t think, as I wanted to play it through and see what would happen. I also really liked how her love for photography came into play for collectibles and how her journal revealed so much about her character as well.
The characters themselves were very much typical high schoolers, but still fun to watch interact. It was very nice to see how quickly Max and Chloe became just as close, if not closer than when they were kids. I thought Max definitely grew by setting more and more clear boundaries with Chloe when I played her, such as when I insisted on answering Kate’s call instead of ignoring it. Chloe, in turn, got a positive influence from Max, at least how I played. For example, Chloe did say she was happy Max didn’t ignore the call and clearly understood how selfish she had been in trying to get Max to ignore it when they went to the hospital so Max could see Kate. Of course, this could be different based on how you play but I did try to get the best options. I also loved seeing her friendships with Warren and Kate evolve, as well as several other characters. Warren was always so supportive, excited to help, and incredibly kind not only to Max but to Chloe as well when he realized how important Chloe was to Max. I really liked their friendship and I did manage to get their relationship good enough for Max to kiss him which was nice. And with sweet Kate, I was able to get Max to save her and talk her down from the roof, leading to some great interactions. I really liked the character of Victoria as well, particularly with her great line of “Now you’re stuck in the retro zone. Sad face.” I really enjoyed Max’s thoughts of Victoria, as Max would stop herself from thinking negatively of Victoria or would genuinely wonder why Victoria was so cruel when she had so much talent and support. Max was just a lovely and great character to play, even if she did take time to get out of her comfort zone.
Of course, the dark room and Mr. Jefferson was the biggest reveal of the story. I had already suspected Mr. Jefferson even during the play through as I really didn’t see Nathan capable of causing Rachel’s disappearance by himself and since Kate had named him in her story. Although I hated David’s character, he didn’t seem likely, and neither did any of the other adults. Even though Nathan was certainly increasingly troubled in the story, it really was clear that he wasn’t acting alone and it was still really well done how it was revealed even if it wasn’t surprising.
Above all, I did like how much of an impact I had on the story. While the events would all still occur, such as Max would make it to certain classes regardless of the choices or she’d end up in the dark room, the way that the story within the story was what was impacted. The fact that everything would add up and influence other chapters was great too. For example, Max wouldn’t be able to talk Kate down from the roof if I hadn’t spoken and comforted her in the classroom, if I hadn’t taken her call, or if I hadn’t been so nosy around her room! Likewise, several things were easier or harder for Max depending on the information she had or the relationships she had with the characters as well so it was really nice how it all tied together. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on scenes as I had in Until Dawn but I did feel like my choices were important.
As for Max’s powers, I really enjoyed using them in the story. It was really cool to see how much the powers changed Max and really propelled her growth so quickly. Of course, it was frustrating as at the end of the day Max using her powers was creating all those disturbances that lead to the storm building. It seemed so weird that Max was giving those powers only to not be able to use them to actually change the events without some major consequence. Of course, it was probably because she made big changes such as saving Chloe’s life which started the storm, or saving William’s life which then caused Chloe to become paralyzed. At the end, she could either undo everything she worked hard to change in order to save Arcadia Bay or she could chose to allow the storm to destroy the town to save Chloe. I ended up choosing to save Arcadia Bay but it felt terrible as Chloe didn’t get that last week with Max, although she was the reason Max discovered her powers. It did leave me wondering if Max was able to continue to use her powers after sacrificing Chloe or if she would continue to try to change things and it would cause more disturbances in the end. Either way, I would hope she’d be able to continue to grow the relationships without Chloe or even her powers if her not saving Chloe in the bathroom didn’t allow her to develop her powers after all.
Overall, I did really enjoy the game and I loved the story so much. I had a really fun time exploring the story and helping Max get through it. I would really recommend this game if you want a nice, easy story-heavy game that will pull at your heartstrings.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm
Now, Before the Storm was the first game in the series I saw a play through of, and had been the game I intended to play first except it took too long to download onto my PS4. Because I’d seen this game first, I didn’t remember a huge amount from the game so a lot of it felt like I was playing blindly through it.
A short description: this game takes place before LiS and focuses on Chloe. In this game, Chloe meets Rachel and goes through a journey of her own.
I have to say, I was surprised how different Chloe’s character was in this game. In this game, Chloe is a lot more rational and more like Max, with Rachel acting more like Chloe in LiS. Neither is as extreme, they’re more in the middle but still, Chloe is usually the one trying to navigate around Rachel’s temper, doing most of the work (since she is the playable character this time), and she is more of starting to grow into her tough persona she takes on later. In this story Chloe is the main character as she is the playable one, but her story heavily revolves around Rachel’s as she helps her discover the truth about her mother and really focuses on supporting her. It seems weird that with Rachel in her life that Chloe did end up as angry in LiS as she did, especially since Rachel kept her relationship with Frank a secret from Chloe. Rachel, on the other hand, seemed very over dramatic in general. Perhaps because she focuses on theatre but she would act as if her life was terrible because she thought her father was acting immorally while knowing Chloe had lost her own father. Again, it was strange to think how Chloe grew so selfish, focusing only on her own thoughts, when in this game so much of her thoughts revolved around Rachel’s wellbeing.
The other characters were all really interesting as well though, and done as well as LiS. There were the characters from the previous game such as Joyce, David, Victoria, and a handful of others. I really enjoyed seeing Chloe’s relationship with Joyce in a better place at the start although it was clear that David was a really negative influence on her and could potentially be part of the reason for Chloe’s extreme downward spiral. After all, even though Chloe is removed from school, her behavior up until that point just seemed like a grief-stricken, rebellious teen but after it was a lot more self-destructive. She clearly had a great sense of humor along with a revengeful personality, as shown when she sabotaged Victoria’s homework. One other character that stood out was the other sort of half attempted love interest who’s name I don’t remember but he had asked her to see The Tempest and then later tried to convince her to end her friendship with Rachel. He was really creepy after he realized that Chloe and Rachel were becoming extremely close very quickly, and after he followed Chloe to Rachel’s house and threatened her I was glad she didn’t end up with him.
The gameplay was similar to LiS, of course, since it is a continuation of the series but there were some differences as Chloe didn’t have Max’s powers. Instead of rewinding to say different things in conversations for example, she was able to do “back talk” challenges where it was timed challenges for Chloe to say something witty and convince that person to let her do what she was trying to do. They were fairly easy but a little stressful. Instead of Max’s visions of storms, Chloe had visions where she would have conversations with her father. And the last one I can recall is Chloe’s letters to Max instead of a diary. Chloe writing to Max was much more believable than her writing to a diary for her character. It did help to understand why Chloe would be quick to forgive Max for not speaking with her after Max moved, as Chloe really missed her and strongly desired to continue their friendship years after Max had left Arcadia Bay.
Like Max, Chloe takes on a huge burden of responsibility for a story which isn’t fully hers. Max took on trying to find Rachel, while Chloe took on trying to discover the truth about Rachel’s mother. It was nice to see Chloe in such a different light of looking out for Rachel, in a way different to her friendship with Max. I wouldn’t say this story is as strong at the end as the beginning, but it is still really impactful and really important to understand why Chloe is so desperate to find out what happened with Rachel after her disappearance.
I really liked this story as well. In certain ways I liked it more than the original game but both are very strong and I recommend this one as well!
Life is Strange: Farewell
This one I had intended to play blind, but once I started playing I realized I had seen a play through of it already as well. Even so, it was a fun game and a great add-on to the story of Max and Chloe.
A short description: this game takes place on the day when a young Max plans to tell Chloe she is moving to Seattle with her family, leaving her best friend in Arcadia Bay. They spend one of their last days together playing as they did as children around Chloe’s home and trying to find their long-buried treasure.
I thought this game was so sweet! This one is played through Max, as she’s stressing on how to tell Chloe they’re moving. It was funny when at first Max is trying to help Chloe clean up her room and throw things out, but Chloe stops Max from throwing anything out at all. Chloe instead insists that she and Max spend the day trying to find the treasure after they find the map and it was great being able to explore the house again. It really helped fully understand how strong their friendship was. Throughout the day Max is worried about telling Chloe that she’s moving only for her to find out at the end that Chloe knew (if you do tell her, otherwise I’m not sure she does). Chloe says she wanted to distract Max because she knew how difficult those kind of conversations were for Max and wanted to spare her from that. That was so incredibly kind of Chloe. We also see how fond the girls are of William, especially Chloe as she is his daughter. That really helped show why Chloe was so distraught after his death as well and the game really tied a lot of those things together beautifully.
If you play the other two games, don’t skill this one! It might not be the most exciting or thought-provoking but it’s a great way to wrap up on Chloe and Max’s story.
So that’s my review of the Life is Strange series that I’ve played so far! Let me know if you’ve played these games and what your thoughts on them were if you have. I did really enjoy them so I’m curious what you thought!
Thanks for reading!
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