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Life is Strange Ep. 1 review: Finding the strange in everyday life

Hayden Dingman | Feb. 2, 2015
There's something refreshing about not being asked to save the world.

And like Juno, Life is Strange has some issues. Most of the writing is strong, but it occasionally veers into cringe-inducing territory. My brain balked at the idea that a seventeen-year-old girl would say some of the lines in this game. Slang grounds characters in a certain time and place, but only if you get the slang right. Life is Strange doesn't always get it right, and there are moments where Max turns into Steve Buscemi holding a skateboard and asking "How do you do, fellow kids?"

But for the most part Dontnod has created a convincing teenage girl with convincing teenage girl problems. If that doesn't interest you, that's fine. Not every game is for everyone.

Me? I enjoyed the first episode of Life is Strange and finished it looking forward to more. It reminded me a lot of the first episode of Dreamfall: Chapters, which is similarly slow and low-key (although as part of the Longest Journey saga we know Dreamfall will inevitably head towards some sort of world-saving conclusion).

The soundtrack also deserves a nod. In fact, when the credits rolled on Episode One the first thing I wanted to know was "Who did the music?" It's apparently a mix of score (done by French musician Jonathan Morali) and licensed tracks by some fairly big names like Jose Gonzalez et al. In other words, if you like quiet indie-folk, you'll be in heaven here.

Bottom line

There's still plenty of time for Life is Strange to go off the rails. I'm not sure I'm ready for this subdued story about a teenage girl's problems to turn into the world-ending whatever-the-hell it's clearly aiming for in the prologue section.

I like the game best when it's not doing that stuff — when it's just Max going about her day, trying to navigate between different cliques and get her homework done and meet up with some boy and stuff. That's when Life is Strange is (in my opinion) at its best, in part because it's so different.

We'll see how it develops though. For now, if you like that whole quirky indie scene — Juno, 500 Days of Summer, Away We Go, et cetera — you'll probably enjoy this. Or if you're just a fan of Telltale games like The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us and want something Telltale-esque, but less fantastical.

Note: PCWorld doesn't score episodic games until they're complete. We'll get back around to Life is Strange when Episode 5 releases and we can summarize the game as a whole.

 

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