Life is Strange: Episode 1 - Chrysalis Review
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Life is Strange: Episode 1 - Chrysalis Box Art
System: PC*, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4
Dev: Dontnod
Pub: Square Enix
Release: January 30, 2015
Players: 1
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Blood, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence, Use of Drugs

The game’s sound is also top notch. Not only is all of the voice acting very effective in conveying emotion, but the game’s use of its soundtrack is leagues beyond other titles on the market. It does a lot more than just fade music in and out as appropriate. It uses it to convey emotion in interesting ways. For example, right at the beginning of the game a different song plays when Max puts on her headphones, at a slightly higher volume, with everyone’s speech drowned out by the music. This really gets you into Max’s body and makes you feel like part of the world.

Life is Strange: Episode 1 - Chrysalis Screenshot

As far as controls go, it’s pretty much you would expect. Walk with the analog stick, press buttons to make choices, same old, same old. The keyboard and mouse controls are a little awkward, forcing you to click, hold, and drag to choices in order to make them. You have a button for rewinding time, a button for jumping backward to the last choice you made, a button for jumping forward to the next choice you have to make, and a run button. It's all easy and intuitive to get ahold of.

I did have fun with Life is Strange, but there are a lot of questions left unanswered at the end of Episode 1. I’m not even really sure what sort of game I am playing yet, in terms of story genre. It opens up in this bleak storm-riddled landscape, but then the rest of the game feel more like something out of a college drama. I think further episodes will probably be better, as the development team starts to realize what story they want to tell. They can also rein in the time powers a bit, allowing them to be used more in problem solving and less in decision making. I think if this is done, the game can rival Telltale’s cinematic games, which is appropriate considering they take so much from the Telltale formula, right down to the statistics page which shows off what choices you made at the end of the episode.

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Life is Strange is an interesting attempt to break into the cinematic genre. It’s certainly unique, blending together gameplay elements of Telltale’s and Quantic Dreams' productions with more “gamey” elements such as it’s time rewinding mechanics. It shows a lot of promise as an episodic game, but there are certain mechanics that leave me feeling a bit skeptical for this franchise’s future. I think Episode 1 is worth a play through, but whether or not this becomes a fantastic multi-episode game will depend on the choices the developers make from here on out. Considering the game’s subject matter, that seems entirely appropriate.

By
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Contributing Writer
Date: February 2, 2015

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.0
Graphics
Though sometimes the lighting makes hair and features seem plastic, on the whole faces are expressive and models move in a believable way.
3.8
Control
The PC controls are a little wonky, involving lots of clicks and drags, but the game works just fine on a controller.
4.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The soundtrack and voice acting are probably the best parts of the game.
4.0
Play Value
It’s worth playing just to see what further episodes have in store.
3.9
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Interesting time rewinding mechanic interacts with the way you make decisions in a cinematic game.
  • Incredible use of sound, far more than a simple soundtrack.
  • Believable characters that feel like real high school students.

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