Life Is Strange
PLOT Childhood pals reconnect to search for a missing classmate.
RATING M for Mature
DETAILS PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One; $19.99-$39.99
BOTTOM LINE This game may be your new best friend.
An intense female friendship drives Life Is Strange, a memorable episodic adventure in which players take on the role of Maxine “Max” Caulfield, a senior at a prestigious prep school. As the game opens, Max has a vision of an approaching catastrophic storm. When she awakens, she is in photography class listening to her instructor discuss Alfred Hitchcock and Diane Arbus.
Feeling the need to splash water on her face, Max visits the ladies’ room where she attempts to photograph a butterfly she spots and is unseen when wealthy and disturbed Nathan Prescott enters. Soon a blue-haired teenage girl shows up, and Max overhears her threaten to expose Nathan’s drug dealing if he doesn’t cough up some hush money. Nathan pulls a gun on the girl and shoots.
Acting instinctively, Max leaps from her hiding spot, and to her surprise rewinds time to the moment where she was sitting in photography class. Armed with a knowledge of future events, Max prevents the shooting by pulling the fire alarm in the bathroom. Later, she discovers that the girl she saved is her childhood friend Chloe Price.
With friendship renewed, Max and Chloe embark on an investigation into the whereabouts of a missing high school student and, in the process, uncover sordid secrets, including addictions, mental health problems and insolvency issues, which are handled with tactful humanity.
The beauty of the game’s rewind mechanism is how it’s sprung on players like a trap. The more one uses rewind, the more one is lulled into thinking there is a best possible outcome for each situation. But Life Is Strange is about the impossibility of finding a perfect solution. With tremendous cunning, the game moves from a teenage superpower fantasy to a comment on our universal wish to repair time.