Life is Strange – Episode 1 – Chrysalis Review (PS4)

I wanted to play this game for a long time now, but decided to wait because of the problems I was having with episodic games. I know that this game had a very strict release schedule and basically stuck to it, but I was still feeling some trepidation so I decided to skip it. I figured the perfect time to get this game would be in January when it came out on disc. I was even so close to pre-ordering it, but a sale, and I mean a great sale, stopped me. I was excited to get into the first episode after hearing so much about this game, so here’s what I thought about it.

The title character of this game is Max. She’s basically your typical high school student who’s having trouble fitting in at a new school. On top of that she finds out that she basically has the power to reverse time. This causes her to get into some sticky situations that she can luckily get out of with the whole going back in time thing, but will that lead to other problems in the end? Who knows at this point (if you’ve already played the game you know, but for those who haven’t, you get my point.) Anyway, this isn’t even the main point of the game there are basically two other plots that this game is following along with. You see, Max has been having these visions, a vision of a tornado heading towards the town that’s going to destroy everything and it’s going to happen that very Friday. Not only that but then there’s the case of the missing girl, Rachel Amber. Her picture is posted all over the preppy art school that Max goes to and there are some people who loved her, some people who really loved her, some people who hated her, and some people who really hated her. This becomes the sub plot of the game along with the fact that Max is reunited with her used to be BFF from a long time ago.

The first episode of this game served as a very long introduction to just about everything. You get introduced to Max’s recently discovered power, you get introduced to this vision of hers, you get introduced to this sub-plot of the missing girl. There’s a lot going on here. There’s also a lot of choices to make as you navigate your way through the first episode. I like that there are so many choices and I’m eager to see how it effects the outcome of the entire game. Did I make the right choice by rewinding time and doing things differently or did I just mess things up royally? I also like how this game took an idea from the game Remember Me and basically fleshed it out a bit more making it more prominent in the game. Being used to the Telltale version of episodic games, I thought this episode was way longer. There were times when the game dragged, but then got interesting only to drag before get interesting again. It was kind of a mix, but then again this game is trying to tell a huge story in the form of episodes.

Kudos: The soundtrack of this first episode made the game. It was just the perfect music at the perfect time and it was fitting to the episode as a whole. I don’t think this episode could have had a more perfect soundtrack.

I have to say that after playing only Telltale episodic games that this was a huge improvement, a huge improvement, playability wise. The movements weren’t awkward and it played like an actual game should. There were no loading time or trophy issues and the game ran super smooth on the PS4. The only issues that I had, and it was a small one, was that sometimes the voices didn’t match up correctly or the sub-titles were a little off. Other than that the game ran flawlessly.

Now while I did enjoy the graphics, the scenery was beautiful and really enhanced with the capabilities of the PS4, I did have a problem with some of the actual characters in the game. While some characters looked fine, there were some that just looked a little cartoony and didn’t really fit into the whole atmosphere. It felt like a weird mixture of having some characters look life like and others looking not so life like.

There are 12 trophies for this episode and if you think that it’s going to be easy as a Telltale game then you’re wrong. You’ll get one trophy for completing the episode and you’ll have to work to get the other 11. Since Max is a photographer, the other trophies are about the pictures she takes. They aren’t so obvious either and will sometimes involve you having to go back and rewind to get things right, but they aren’t extremely hard to get. There’s a tab in Max’s journal that basically shows you what she’s looking for, they’re kind of like clues for the photography and if you can figure them out you can get the pictures you need. Once you finish this game entirely you’ll have a platinum trophy which is always a plus.

There is no multiplayer for this game and its totally not needed.

Overall I give this episode a 4.5 out of 5

What’s Great:
+ Nice concept that plays off a similar idea from Remember Me, but works a lot better.
+ Main plots, sub-plots, and everything in between this game is DEEP and has layers. (Like an onion.)
+ Interesting characters and a diverse set of characters. Yes some of them are stereotypes, but I didn’t think they were over clichéd.
+ The soundtrack is awesome!
+ A lot of choices which promise to have “consequences”

What’s Not So Great:
While the graphics are nice, sometimes the characters look life-like and sometimes they look more like cartoons. It makes things look a little awkward in game.
While there were really no glitches that were game breaking, it was annoying at times when the voices didn’t match up or the sub-titles didn’t really work like they should.

I really, really, enjoyed this episode and am very eager to play the next one. So far the game looks promising and while I do have my suspects on who caused the disappearance of Rachel Amber, there are so many possible suspects that I’m pretty sure I didn’t pick the right one. I’ll give you a little insight into who I think did it in my spoilers section. I’m also liking the development between Chloe and Max as they transition from used to be BFF’s into maybe something more. I’m very interested to see where the whole thing goes and maybe I’ll have more luck at navigating Max through her high school experience then I did in real life.

SPOILERS! Below are my choices from the first episode, and also who I think is the main suspect in the disappearance of Rachel Amber.

Life is StrangeLife is Strange

Suspect: Mark Jefferson. Sure I could have picked the weirdo security guy, or the preppy girl who obviously hated Rachel, or even the creepy janitor, but I think it’s Mark. If you play your cards right in the game you hear a “rumor” that Rachel was sleeping with Mark. I don’t think that she was because it’s kind of obvious (?) that she had a thing going on with Chloe, but I think it’s the perfect motive for Mark since he wasn’t able to have Rachel to himself.