Why Life Is Strange Is My Game Of The Year (No Spoilers!)
‘Fallout 4, Witcher 3, Metal Gear Solid’ I hear you saying for game of the year contenders. While all those games were good and some excellent in their own right, there’s only a few times in my gaming life (or however you want to call it), that a game you sit down to play with little to no expectations to start with, ends up blowing your mind, makes you thinking about that scene for hours, days, weeks afterwards! How could an interactive game with digital characters and pot smoking, annoying teenagers in what looks like a teen drama make me feel these emotions?
Well Life Is Strange did that to me here’s why it’s my game of the year.
The thing about Life Is Strange, it technically doesn’t introduce anything new in terms of game mechanics except the fact your main character Max can time travel because you know….teenage problems and stuff. But when this is mixed in with the fact the game is primarily a story and choice driven game, it makes for an interesting mix up, no? I didn’t think it was a first, I remember saying to myself ‘well I’ll just do this choice and if it’s the wrong one, I’ll rewind time, make myself a coffee and think about how great of a gamer I am’.
This leads me onto one the best things Life Is Strange does and does so well. Something story/choices based games need to learn from (looking at you Telltale). The choices are never black or white and you’ll spend most of the time questioning yourself and thinking ‘do I go back and change…..nahhh…..maybe I should…nahhh’. Even something so little that you did or didn’t do could a big impact later down the line or the choice could have no effect at all. Life Is Strange is the first game to get choices in games right and make you live with them. Like an evil villain constantly reminding you how much you suck at being you, for the most part, not all the time as it does suffer in the final 3rd of the game but it always keeps you on your toes right till the end but again this is something developers could learn from in the future.
To have a good story, you of course need to have good characters. Initially and honestly, I didn’t like most of the characters or care for any of them. I mean most of them are annoying, stupid teenagers who when walking through the halls of Blackwell Academy (the school the main character Max goes to) all I could her is ‘Oh my god, like, oh god did you see Ashley last night, she was so drunk oh my god’. On a side note here too, the characters say the words ‘Oh my god’ way too much, like seriously it actually got annoying to the point it became a catchphrase for them but anyway back on point. This was how I felt in episode one but after episode 2 and beyond I started developing this strange, unexpecting care for some of characters.
Max and Chloe the two main characters in this game develop this incredible chemistry together and you just want to see more and more of them together as the game goes on. I also started to feel the same things as Max did like in episode one. It relates back to the player so much, here’s Max entering a new school, doesn’t know anyone and is looking alien around all these people thinking ‘god I hate this place’. I originally felt that episode 1 was the weakest after I played because as I said above, I didn’t care about anyone here. I only realised after finishing the whole game how important that first episode was because it was trying to make me feel the same way Max was feeling. If the first episode was the introduction and was introducing me to these people who were, at the time, felt like part of a high school teen drama, then the episodes after that were making me realise just how screwed up, dark or interesting some of these people were once I got to know them.
Life is strange seriously surprised me, there are moments in this story where I was left genuinely stunned and was left thinking about it for ages. It’s not the perfect game, especially the story, by any stretch of the imagination and I’m still a bit confused by some of the roads it leads you down towards the end. However I don’t for once second think this takes away from the enjoyment I had in this world. Life is Strange nails the teenage experience of coming to a new school with new friends, new enemies, even tackles gender and relationships so well and so right you would forget this is a video game. All this while also blending in an overarching story that will have to guessing right until the end. I don’t know if it was the setting, the wonderful music, the characters or story that got me hooked and connected but it all just seemed to work together. Life Is Strange from an emotional standpoint is fantastic and makes me excited for story driven games if this is what’s to come in the future.
I really, really hope so.