Wednesday 4 February 2015

Life Is Strange

«Life Is Strange» fills a genre need I didn't know I had, namely in the not so very big category of games about high-school melodrama with time traveling. It's an adventure game in the Telltale tradition, but aimed at the kind of person who enjoys mysteries like «Donnie Darko» and «Twin Peaks» but also has a soft spot for coming-of-age stories like «My So-Called Life» and «Mean Girls».

«Life Is Strange» is the kind of game I would try out on principle alone, because deep down I really want to perceive games as art, and therefore is subconsciously drawn to all pretentious titles with an indie soundtrack. Unfortunately in most of these cases I am easily put off by 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 slow 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-establishing launch trailer (see below), but mostly because it starts out with just the right amount of setup, and has interesting characters, instead of just an empty landscape with notes and references to them.

«Life Is Strange» puts you in the sneakers of Max 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 strong enough to make me care and want to share the journey with them.

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