Spotlight on Life is Strange for OS X
Life, as they say, is indeed strange. And in Dontnod/Square Enix’s game of the same title, you get an opportunity to explore the strangeness of life, time travel, the consequences of actions, and a heavy dose of teenage angst to round it out.
Across five episodes, Life is Strange begs the question: What if I could have done that differently?
It’s October in Arcadia Bay, and you find your attention drifting during a high school photography class. Life is Strange is experienced from the point of view of Maxine (Max) Caulfield, a 12th grader at Blackwell Academy. Armed with a polaroid camera, a keen eye for composition, and a just-discovered ability to rewind time, Max sets off on an adventure that weaves together elements of life in a hyper-connected, social-media saturated world (starting immediately with a hipster jab at selfies).
The game is rated M (17 and up), and it’s an appropriate rating. Within the first five mintues you’ll encounter a potential school shooting, which is the catalyst for Max’s time travel abilities. Armed with the knowledge of what’s about to happen and objects you’ve collected, this lets you change history on the fly by saying something different or by collecting the right tools to change the outcome of events. The choices you make have consequences later in the game.
Max Caulfield’s world is one of troubles. Finances, friends, and academic achievement all weigh heavily on the character, which can be disconcerting. Because actions carry consequences you’ll be inclined to make choices based on feedback; Max’s emotional states range from dour to cautiously optimistic at best, so the future impacts of your choices are consistently ambiguous.
Storytelling over all is intense and compelling, though it does get off to a rather slow start in the first episode. The conclusion still has my brain wrapped in knots!
The soundtrack is one area where the game really shines. The list of artists performing on the soundtrack is longer than the cast of vocal actors, and the songs are pitch perfect for the indie Pacific Northwest ethos the game portrays. Gameplay is simple point and click and for the most part follows a logical progression, though the free exploration of the universe and somewhat complex game journal make it easy to forget what you were working on.
Life is Strange launched for OS X this summer. It’s available from the App Store or via Steam, and the total price for the game is $19.99. There are five episodes each priced at $4.99; on the App Store you pay for episode 1 and then the remaining balance for episodes 2-5. On Steam, the first episode is free, but the remainder are $19.99.
For more information, visit www.feralinteractive.com.