Game Review: Life Is Strange Episode One: Chrysalis

Felipe Cabrera

Platforms: PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC

Rated: M

“Life Is Strange: Episode One — Chrysalis” is the first part of episodic drama by DONTDOD Entertainment, the studio that made the regrettably forgettable “Remember Me”. “Life is Strange,” however, is anything but forgettable.

“Life Is Strange” follows the story of 18-year-old Max Caulfield’s return to her hometown of Arcadia, Ore. to finish her senior year at an art school called Blackwell Academy. After Max wakes up in class because of a premonition of Arcadia’s destruction, she gains the power to rewind time. 

“Episode One” felt like it was in a hurry to establish a few big plot points right away, which made for some odd tonal shifts that this episode suffers from.

Max goes from having a prophetic dream to discovering she has time travel powers to High School antics, then to a harrowing experience that kicks off a plot about a missing girl and then back again to High School antics. All of this happens within the first 20 minutes.

It felt jarring to jump from a situation straight out of a sci-fi film to what’s turning into an intriguing mystery where all the characters are interconnected. While I was playing, I was more interested in Max following the paper trails of this missing girl. I didn’t really question how or why Max received her powers.

My minor grievance with the story’s pacing didn’t change how much I adore this game. Max Caulfield is a wonderfully written character. She’s relatable and I can sympathize with her teenage woes. I can buy that Max and her classmates are teenagers of this decade. Even when they throw out slang words, it doesn’t feel forced.

“Life Is Strange” exhibits a superb use of passive storytelling. Most of the details Max picks about other characters is through interacting with the beautiful pastel painted environment. This shines during the time Max spends with her estranged best friend, Chloe.

You get a real sense of how much Chloe has changed in the five years she hasn’t seen Max while you explore her home. Max’s moments with Chloe are easily the best parts of the game.

“Life Is Strange” is a point and click-styled adventure that will be familiar with those who played Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” game. You progress through the game by engaging in conversations. The decisions you make will set off a butterfly effect. Every decision you make will inform how other characters feel about you and how events will unfold.

What sets “Life Is Strange” apart from games like “The Walking Dead” is Max’s ability to turn back time. After any major decision, you can rewind time like an undo button. You can choose another option and check out that outcome, then choose which path you are willing to take.

But in “Life Is Strange,” there is no real right answer. Often times, you have to make a choice that will lead to heavy consequences.

You can have Max stick her neck out for someone that could backfire later, or you can make a selfish decision that will alter Max’s relationship with another character. Every choice sends a ripple that informs the outcomes of different future events.

Max’s ability to rewind time will also be used to solve simple environmental puzzles. Sometimes, a character will ask you a question that Max clearly doesn’t know the answer to. Once you find the answer, you can rewind time and satisfy the character with the correct answer. Time rewind sounds like a simple feature and may feel gimmicky at times, but it sets “Life is Strange” apart from the barrage of Telltale episodic adventure titles.

I remember that DONTNOD Entertainment had a hard time finding a publisher for “Remember Me” because of its’ female protagonist, which is a shame. Thankfully Square Enix picked them up.

Even though “Remember Me” wasn’t the break through new franchise it was touted to be, “Life Is Strange” kicked off the New Year with an adventure that is part sci-fi, part mystery, part drama and totally contagious.

“Life Is Strange” hooked me in. I am down right obsessed with it. I’m brimming with excitement, eagerly awaiting for episode two, so that I can continue Max’s adventure.