Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Life Is Strange

«Life Is Strange» fills a gaming need I didn't know I had, as there has been precious few games about teenage high-school melodrama with time traveling so far. It's basically an adventure game in the Telltale tradition, but for the kind of person who enjoy mysteries like «Donnie Darko» and «Twin Peaks» and also has a soft spot for coming-of-age stories like «My So-Called Life».

«Life Is Strange» is the kind of game which I am inclined to like on principle, because deep down I am a bit of a proto-hipster who desperately want to perceive gaming as art, and therefore is drawn to titles with an indie soundtrack and a focus on narrative.

Unfortunately in most of these cases I am put off early by their boring and clumsy game-play. This happened with «Gone Home» and «Mind: Path to Thalamus», both games which seemed interesting on paper, but were just too dull and boring in practice.

But «Life Is Strange» instantly connected with me, much in the same way as the classic «Shenmue». It probably helped that I first watched its mood-setting launch trailer (see below), but mostly I think it's because it starts out with the necessary amount of setup, a mellow soundtrack and is populated by lively characters, instead of just an empty landscape with hints of subtext.

«Life Is Strange» puts you in the sneakers of Max Caulfield (no relation to Holden Caulfield), an 18 year old high school girl, returning to her small Oregon hometown after some time away in the big city. And I must say, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that I am a man in my late thirties, I thoroughly enjoyed this look at another world through the eyes of an insecure female teenager.

The first chapter takes about two hours to finish, which makes it short but sweet, and functions primarily as an introduction to the characters and the world they inhabit. But it's enough to make me care about their lives.

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