Life Is Strange

This is where you can deliberate anything relating to videogames - past, present and future.
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JaySevenZero
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Life Is Strange

Post by JaySevenZero » December 24th, 2016, 10:02 am

Here is where you can leave your thoughts regarding Life Is Strange for possible inclusion in the podcast when it's recorded.

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Re: Life is Strange

Post by Buskalilly » January 24th, 2017, 1:32 pm

I loved this game, right from the first episode which a lot of people wrote off. Some of the characters were irritating, sure, but very realistically so. From that opening, the story was a wonderful mix of character piece and thought-provoking exploration of time travel.

Like Mass Effect, or any other story-driven game, before it, I heard a lot of complaints about the ending. As before, I personally didn't have an issue. I think the point of the various choices and beats up to that moment was to paint a picture of Max as a character and create the groundwork for that final decision.

The beauty of that end moment is that everyone I've spoken to seems pretty convinced their decision was the only decision, despite the fact people are actually pretty 50/50. For what it's worth I let the town die. I'm pretty sure I'd do the same in real life for the people I love. Make of that what you will . . .

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Re: Life is Strange

Post by Joshihatsumitsu » January 26th, 2017, 12:11 am

I've decided that, just like the game, I should break this up episodically as I go (based on the Playstation 3 version of the game). So...

Episode 1: Chrysalis

Having grown up in a small town myself, I could instantly relate to Max. That feeling of returning to the place where you grew up, and to see that time has ticked onwards without your influence or input, and finding what was once familiar, safe and comfortable has now become utterly alien. Trying to find your place in that world again, a world that you are now an outsider from, is something I think many people can easily connect with.

I appreciate that the game choose and stuck with a particular artist visual style, and that it is consistent throughout. I don't know if it is graphically improved much on the PS4/Xbone/PC compared to the PS3 version that I'm playing, but I'm glad that instead of striving for photorealism or the uncanny valley, theres a slight watercolour look. It helps create a consistent tone, and leaving certain details a little abstract allows your imagination to pull it's weight a little. After all, art take two to make it work.

One thing I did notice as the credits rolled was the use of motion capture, which was not something that crossed my mind as I played along. I guess what I'm trying to express is that I was so caught up in the story and the way characters would react with each other, that the technical aspects became an afterthought. Of course they would have used motion capture! Makes total sense in retrospect.

I did read a few reviews prior to purchasing, and some of them mentioned the "teen-speak" of the characters, and that sometimes it can be a bit unrealistic or grating. Being a 36 year man, I cannot in anyway vouch for how teenagers speak, especially young girls, in the modern world, nor do I really care. None of it really distracted me from the story or the characters, and as someone who plays visual novels set in Japan, there's nothing about it that I found out of the ordinary or jarring.

I loved the little moments where Max would find a place to sit, and a memory of a past interaction would play out not visually but with just the voice acting. This reminiscing gave us a bit of insight into the characters histories, and in keeping it in the present rather that triggering a fully interactive flashback, it creates an interesting juxtaposition between more youthful, ignorantly-blissful childhood memories, with hopes and dreams, and how the passage of time has resulted in these characters having grown through different and difficult life experiences. It's game that wants you to take your time and explore this world, because it is about the story, not necessarily the gameplay.

Because there's four episodes to go, I'll cut it off here and surmise that episode one did what a first episode should do: hook you into the world, characters and story, and leave you wanting more.

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Re: Life is Strange

Post by Joshihatsumitsu » January 26th, 2017, 9:22 pm

Episode 2: Out of Time...

The thick plottens...

If episode one was about discovering and comes to terms with Max's powers, episode two is about establishing the limitations. From the moment she gets her first nosebleed it becomes apparent that it is taking a physical toll on her, and that there will be things outside her, and subsequently the players, control.

Max's powers are ultimately about observation and paying attention to what's going around her, and the ability to rewind only a short distance into the past to make adjustments. She's hasn't become an all powerful God, and she can't suddenly do Lara Croft-type head shots with a bow and arrow. She's still very human, and still relatable.

I noticed some of the adult characters are a little off. I'm not sure if the issue I have with Samual is the voice acting of the character model, but it doesn't feel quite right. And and some of the people you meet outside of the Two Whales diner seem a bit off too. I get the reason that they are there, to provide exposition and backstory to Arcadia Bay as a town, but they don't quite gel.

The adult in me regarding the train-track scene is "why are you lying down on a train track that is clearly still in use, you dumb, dumb kids?". Then the adult in me remembers all the stupid things I did growing up, and then I have to bite my tongue. Still, it is a scene that makes good, if overly simple, use of the rewind mechanic to solve a problem.

And spoiler alert:
Spoiler: show
Kate Marsh... for me I wasn't able to save her. And while I did try to rewind there was nothing I could do. And for the sake of narrative integrity I respected that it didn't pull any punches, and that it demonstrated once again that despite Max's new powers, she can't change everything, and somethings in life are just out of your control, despite your best intentions.
And so concludes episode 2. I noticed more graphical glitches this time around, but hey, Unreal Engine, what can you do. I'm still invested in these characters and this story. I'm just going to take it as it comes and not worry is the conclusion, because much like Mass Effect, it isn't about the destination, it's about the journey.

To be continued...

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Re: Life is Strange

Post by Madsocks » January 27th, 2017, 10:23 am

I think this would be a fantastic inclusion to the podcast. I remember seeing this when a PSN friend was playing the first episode demo so I had a look at it and thought it was pretty interesting; the conception of time travelling, rewinding time etc. I played through the demo and was immediately hooked; so much so that I immediately bought the whole 5 episode package and didn't stop playing it until I had actually completed it. The whole premise of. the story was fantastic, the characters engaging and I wish that there could be some kind of sequel to the game.

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Re: Life is Strange

Post by Alex79uk » January 27th, 2017, 11:41 am

This is only £3.99 on PS4 at the moment. Perfect timing to play before the podcast. I'll be grabbing it when I'm paid next week for sure.

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Re: Life is Strange

Post by Joshihatsumitsu » January 29th, 2017, 1:42 am

Episode 3: Chaos Theory... not just a great Splinter Cell game.

After playing through the mid-point of this five part story, I have to say that this particular strong episode. One particular highlight was trying to break into the principal's office. After triggering the alarm, my first instinct was to run into the office and try and search as quickly as I could for clues. And after a few seconds I remembered "of yeah, I'm in the office! I can just rewind to before the pipe bomb is used, and unlock the door from inside". I like that the puzzle element of this series isn't out to stump you Resident Evil style, with abstract or arbitrary goals, but really they are just there to make you feel a bit clever, and not hold up the pace of the story being told.

And if there was ever a Veronica Mars video game, then I hope they use a similar style of gameplay. Essentially Max's powers only really grant her insight, and the rewind function is just there to help you make use of that new information, and the scene in the Two Whales diner really highlights the strengths of this mechanic. Max may not be able to control everything and everyone, but she can use what she has to manipulate things to her advantage. Very detective like. Makes me wish L.A. Noire did that...

Just in case the audience was getting complacent, later in the game an opportunity to change a major event around 4 years prior ends up fixing one outcome, only to create a new set of problems. I love how this game is not presenting clear cut easy answers, and that regardless of your choices, not everyone will win. Max is both powerful and powerless at the same time, and even with the best of intentions she's still at the mercy of powers and events beyond her control.

From the start my only rule was make a decision, and make it with conviction. Even with the rewind function, the story still needs to move forward, and the only way is to make a choice and stick with it. It's a game that gives me a sense of agency, which in an ultimately linear experience is quite an achievement.

(And I tend to ignore those statistics regarding decisions other people made: it make takes me out of that world a little too much. There's a time for meta, and it's not during the game.)

Life is Strange is also doing a good job with cliffhangers... to be continued...

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Re: Life is Strange

Post by Alex79uk » January 29th, 2017, 1:56 pm

Started this last night. Not what I was expecting at all! I thought it was a straight up Telltale style adventure. This time rewind mechanic is very interesting, I had no idea it was in the game. I can see it leading to plenty of annoying what ifs...!

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Re: Life is Strange

Post by Alex79uk » January 30th, 2017, 6:45 am

I've been meaning to play Life is Strange for a while now, and with the entire season on sale for under four quid and an episode of C&R coming up it seemed like a perfect time to start. Finished episode one last night, and it's already got its hooks in to me. I heard a lot of chatter saying it doesn't get going until further on in to the story, but I'm loving it so far. Lots of questions, mainly regarding the security guy at the college. Good stuff.

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Re: Life is Strange

Post by Joshihatsumitsu » January 30th, 2017, 9:18 pm

Episode 4: Dark Room... Nothing but spoilers at this point!

There is a certain choice that must be made at the beginning of this episode (at least in my play through) concerning Chloe, and at first my feelings were that ultimate the choice was arbitrary; that this was an alternate timeline and that it wouldn't matter anyway once I return to the main story.

But after a bit of thought I realised that while that decision will not really effect the overall gameplay, it was a decision that was less about role-playing as Max, and asking myself "what would Max do in this situation". Really the game was asking me, the audience: if you took away all the emotional fallout, all the legal issues, and all the politics, and if there was ultimately no consequences for the decision you make, would you honour Chloe's wish?

Now, granted: this game doesn't address the issue of euthanasia with the same sensitivity, elegance and delicacy that Gear of War 2 did (couldn't resist :D )! Kidding aside, there is a certain Dickens's A Christmas Carol type vibe of how things might have been, and that the point of the alternate timeline is to make you appreciate that while bad things had happened, things could have been much worse.

The choice I made was to ultimately honour Chloe's wish, and that decision was more reflective of my beliefs than Max. And while gameplay wise it kinda didn't matter either way, I guess the point was to bring the issue of euthanasia up, to get the audience to at least think about it. I had spent a lot of time getting to know Chloe, and I did hesitate and try to find ways around it, but a decision had to be made. And I'm sure others made a different decision at that point. And that while the decisions of others may be different to mine, they are just as valid.

Apart from that, there are too many good things to say about this episode. It's fair to say that this episode would mean nothing if it wasn't for the previous episodes building very successfully up to this point. This is my first playthrough, and knowing that despite its overall linearity, other people will have their own experiences, not just because of choice, but through having to face their beliefs, and make decisions based on that.

It's an interesting game, one where I intended to role-play, and ended up being much more invested in than I initially expected.

Only one episode left... no pressure!

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Re: Life is Strange

Post by Joshihatsumitsu » February 4th, 2017, 1:27 am

Episode 5: Polarised

And so it comes to this. :shock:

I'm not a huge fan serialised story telling. It's so easy to begin, build things up, and expand on all characters and back story, and to not have a satisfying conclusion, or quite know how to wrap everything up. There are exceptions, as there are to any rule, but I tend to prefer movies to television series. It's much easier to pace a 90 minute movie than an 8-10 hour story arc.

And I start with that because for me, Life is Strange nails the landing. The conclusion is very satisfying to me, not because you could make choices, but because those choices mattered. The relationship between Max and Chloe was one I was completely invested in and cared a lot about. Had they not got that right, then any choice would have been a gimmick and nothing more.

Taking a step back after playing through this five episode arc, it's very apparent that a lot of thought and care went into the pacing of the story. And the core characters in this story were very well written and acted -acting which also encompassed body language through motion capture very convincingly. There were some side characters that slid more into the realms of caricature, but because the game gets so much right its easy to overlook and forgive.

Plus, no QTE's. I can't believe I got through five straight episodes of a story driven game with no QTE's in sight. Very disciplined!

Again, I did experience the occasional glitch, which one particular touching conversation between Max and Warren turning into a demonstration of Max's remarkable talent for ventriloquism. It's a bit of a shame, but then I didn't experience anything game-breaking either, so again, it's a flaw I can overlook.

In a nutshell, at full retail price, you get an embarrassing amount of high quality (though maybe not flawless) content. And this is a game that is frequently on sale, so there's even more reason to get it. I got the Playstation 3 version, with all 5 episodes for a mere $17.95 AUD (approx. £11), and I would say it's easily worth more than that.

And yet, despite all the kind words, I won't be playing back through this game. At least not for a while. And the reason? I've made my choices, and I got the story and outcomes I deserved. To replay and try and change everything might ruin the magic for me. And I just don't want to undermine the experience. After all, what value does a decision have if there are no consequences?

Max "Fucking" Caulfield: Time Warrior!

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Re: Life is Strange

Post by ianw78 » February 4th, 2017, 8:22 am

This is an episode I'll be really looking forward to... absolutely loved this game. It was a real emotional journey... remember
Spoiler: show
seeing Chloe in the wheechair
and just being floored. Dontnod created such a great game world that I got lost in... saved the soundtrack on my Spotify as well and it plays a huge part in making the game what it is.

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Re: Life is Strange

Post by matten zwei » February 18th, 2017, 5:27 pm

I think "Life is strange" is a perfect example for how videogames have changed the past decades.
The graphics might be meh, I find the gameplay-mechanics might be dull, but somehow this videogame worked for me.
It shows me how important storytelling has become in videogames and that gameplay doesn't have to be a mechanical thing, but an emotional thing. It plays with your emotions and your attachment to the characters. Instead of playing the infamous space marine, shooting exploding nazi zombies, you're playing a female teenager, dealing with social problems (which later might start an apocalypse). It might be this very brave setting that made me forget that I was playing another Unreal3Engine-game. Instead I was participating in a story with characters I actually cared about.

I fell in love with this game, its characters, its soundtrack and i hope that dontnod will make more games like this one. And even though "Life is strange"'s gameplay might be a bit boring, I think it works better than most Telltale-games.

"Life is strange" makes me feel like a teenager, which isn't always fun, but always exciting.

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Re: Life is Strange

Post by Slim » February 18th, 2017, 9:37 pm

I believe I picked up life is strange right off the back of Undertale with the mind set of "I want to feel things" which is an odd thing to say but it is what drew me to it in the first place.

I certainly wasn't disappointed. While I'd heard people say it was high school girl simulator in a spiteful way I actually thought this was the best thing about it. The way you awkwardly make conversations and try to deal with the daily minutia was for me the best part of the game. The supernatural gimmick of time travel was certainly cool and I thought very appropriate for the setting given that I'm sure many of us wish we could take back something we said in high school or undo and embarrassing moment at that awkward time in life. I found the crime and mystery part a little predictable, but that didn't make it any less enjoyable.

There are many moment that people will want to talk about in this game, much like the whole Walking Dead "what did you do when" and I think that is what makes it a good game. For me one moment that really stuck out was when you're hiding in the cupboard and have to watch David and Chloe have an argument. This situation felt very real and because of that I think it had a much bigger impact than some of the more dramatic moments in the game. Sure no one is going to die there, but the consciences were so much more believable and I think that's where the strength of this game lies.

I'm not one of those people that thinks that all of my decisions should "pay off" in some neat bundle at the end. I like each choice to feel important when it happens and I think that is something that Life is Strange does so well and it really has to because you can play out every choice. So to still make you wonder which is the right one is really something special.

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Re: Life is Strange

Post by ThirdDrawing » February 21st, 2017, 3:26 pm

I picked up LIS based on word of mouth.

Initially I liked the premise but I really feel like the game didn't do enough with the time mechanics. By that I mean I didn't feel like they really made substantial changes most of the time.

The dialogue was really, incredibly bad - on the level of a 90210 or Dawnson's Creek and I mostly cringed my way through the game.

I didn't like the reveal of the villain - I felt their motivation made no sense in context with the rest of the story.

I don't buy games based on word of mouth very often, and games like this are the reason why.

It has a cool premise but the meat of the game just isn't that interesting and the hamfisted writing did it no favours. Not one I would recommend.

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Re: Life is Strange

Post by deacon05oc » February 22nd, 2017, 1:06 pm

Being a fan of the Telltale games from Walking Dead and onwards, I pretty much expected to like a game like such as Life is Strange. I did not expect to love it and become one of my favorite story based games ever.

I think what attracted me to the game was the type of game it is and the element of time travel. I love this science fiction element and for it to be a gameplay element made it even more enticing. I bought the season pass and was ready for the story of Max and Chloe.

I loved the story, the characters and more than any Telltale game I felt the weight of my choices. I felt the connection of Max and Chloe. Their stories were equally intriguing and heartfelt. Even the other students at Max's school get their moments. I remember being on the edge of my seat as I tried to prevent a suicide attempt and the relief when i was able to. So many moments drew me in, breaking into the school, investigating a disappearance and more.

I actually felt disappointment upon my completion of the penultimate episode. Not becuase the episode was bad, but rather because I knew that this tale was coming to a close. I felt a connection with the world of Arcadia Bay and I did not wish to leave it.

After making one final decision, the story was over. Although I went back to take all the photos and get my platinum trophy on PS4, I wanted more. Yet I was emotionally satisfied with what is a great narrative driven game that is one of the best examples of its genre in this modern gaming era. Life is in fact strange, but the quality of this game is not. It deserves all the praise it can get.

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Re: Life Is Strange

Post by Alex79uk » February 24th, 2017, 10:47 pm

Just finished episode 3.

Shiiiiiiiiit!!

Well that was an 'entirely predictible and standard of the genre yet still quite interesting within the context of the story' twist.

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Re: Life Is Strange

Post by DomsBeard » February 25th, 2017, 10:14 am

I really enjoyed it, a total change of pace compared to what I had been used to with the telltale games. I knew it was special when at the end of episode one I was presented with a page full of small incidental decisions that I hadn't even noticed
Spoiler: show
watering your plant, emails, finding a pregnancy test
it made me explore and bring out more of the story in the other episodes.

I thought they handled (if it happened in your playthrough
Spoiler: show
Kate's suicide really really well as it is a very sensitive subject
I thought it was ironic that this happened to me on my playthrough as I actually do volunteer work specialising in this in real life!.

Some of the characters were annoying as was some of the speech used but I think that is because it is what teenagers are like!. I'd love to see the thoughts of someone that age actually playing it.

The high point for me was
Spoiler: show
going back and being able to ''save'' Chloe's Dad. Her Dad not being there and seeing how it had affected her life and the option to do this felt quite powerful at the time as was the fallout from it
I thought the ending was ''OK'' I preferred the journey. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone if any of what is mentioned on this thread peaks your curiosity.

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Re: Life Is Strange

Post by chase210 » February 25th, 2017, 10:28 am

Life Is Strange is such a weird game for me. It's not especially visually pleasing, the voice acting and script can be dodgy, the gameplay can often be boring. Yet its one of the best told, most emotional stories in a game I can recall, at least in this 'Gaming generation' so to speak.

Max and Chloe are a very endearing pair, which really sells the game. I usually dislike having to go round a game finding extra stuff and collectibles to flesh out a story, but I didn't mind it one bit in LIS because all the characters were so charming and engaging, and I wanted to see the end of their story. Except Warren.

I have the same stand out moments as anyone else I imagine. The end of episode 2, saving Kate, the end of episode 3 and the beginning of episode 4 as Max has to deal with the consequences of her actions, finding out who 'the villain' is, and of course the ending. Wow. Truly, it blew me away.

I've written this paragraph out, and although LIS is a game with time travel as a central theme and game mechanic, I haven't mentioned it at all before now, how strange. It also leads to some of the best gameplay sequences and of course, greatly enhances the story telling. I just don't think of it much when I play the game.

I love Life Is Strange, and I would reccomend it to anyone, specially since its cheap as chips these days.

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Re: Life Is Strange

Post by Chopper » February 25th, 2017, 4:43 pm

I really enjoyed Life is Strange. For me it's a weird pastiche of naturalistic storytelling and videogamey happenings. Some of the characters are great, some not so believeable. I was super surprised that this was the follow up game to Remember Me, which I also enjoyed; DontNod employ some really talented people.

There were some real highlights in the five episodes - scenes involving Kate, Chloe and Chloe's parents were emotional highpoints - and while it had flaws, the overall result was really interesting and ultimately one of the better narrative games.


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