Life is Strange is a triumph, a game that really absorbs you into the setting and has a rich detailed story with strong character development. The game feels indebted to the works of Telltale Games and Quantic Dream, however it manages to forge its own path with its tone, its time travelling mechanism and its pace. It is important to note from the start that this is not a game about time travel. The power is really just a tool here, something that is used to explore characters and situations in an compelling and unique way. The choices you make have a huge impact on the unfolding story, and the ability to rewind and make a different decision makes you soon realise how branching and tangled things quickly can become. Nothing is black and white. It is not a game for someone who is indecisive.
The focus on decision-making and relationships means that there are few frustrating game mechanics that you usually find in this kind of story-driven adventure games. The item retrieval moments are kept mostly to a needless bottle hunt in a junkyard. The puzzles that fall your way tend to be engaging, all due to the clever use of the time travel mechanic in solving them.
I found myself thinking a lot about Last of Us and the first season of Telltale's Walking Dead as I played Life is Strange, the way the game makes you really buy into the world and care about the characters. However this story revolves around the bond of friendship, rather than the protective parental relationships explored in the aforementioned games. Max and Chloe friendship is not perfect and riddled with difficulties, but there is a deeper love that unites them. Whilst Max tries to act the hero and use her power for good, it soon becomes apparent that it is impossible for a human being to truly shape and bend destiny to their will.
The only misstep I felt was the Alan Wake-y stealth section in the final episode, but I can see why the section was needed otherwise it would have been just a simple walk from point A to B. There had to be something difficult to overcome when the stakes were so high at the end.
Dontnod Entertainment should be commended for a fantastic achievement, Life is Strange is a thrilling and thoughtful game that makes great use of an interesting time travel mechanic. Praise must also be given to the voice actors who really made the characters live, in particular Hannah Telle as Max who managed to reflect inner strength and courage with a subtle and powerful performance.
PS - I really dug how the barn in episode 4 had a real Friday the 13th Part 3 feel!