For those who have ever thought to themselves, “I should’ve ordered the soup.”
You would think having an awesome power like the ability to rewind time would make it easy to coast through life, but for Max, the lead in Life Is Strange, the opposite is true. She must still negotiate daily school life, friendships, and the impact of her decisions. Since the acclaim of the first episode, including that from Nick, many players are wondering about that impact, and how it all ties into the big tornado from the beginning. Well, from the demo of the next episode I witnessed, I can tell you that you’ll already start to witness the mess you’ve made for yourself.
The demo began in a very retro-style diner, one that Chloe’s mother, Joyce, works at. Max is supposed to meet Chloe there, ostensibly to discuss her newfound abilities. Before her friend’s arrival, though, players are given a chance to speak with Joyce about the events between Chloe and her stepfather from the first episode, downplaying or decrying the abuse they witnessed and their role in it. When Chloe arrives, Max is compelled to demonstrate her skills to her in a sort of origin-story way. First, players must guess the contents of Chloe’s pockets, and then, they need to predict the future or at least the next events in the small town diner. I don’t want to give much away, but take this suggestion: pay attention to forgettable details, or you’ll screw up every answer.
Although I haven’t played the first episode yet, I recognized in this one the character archetypes others have brought up. Chloe is an archetypal bad girl with deep feelings about stuff, and her mom is the vision of diner waitress who takes no flask from customers but has time to offer motherly advice with a slice of pie. Based on my chat with some of the guys from DONTNOD, this might be intentional. According to the game’s art director, Michel Koch, the team wanted to use the TV episodic format, and they actually hired a TV writer to put together all of their ideas. Although this added a stereotypical sheen to the production, the team felt as though they could grab players’ attention by providing immediately familiar characters.
I wanted to know more about their strategy behind using the episodic format and initially asked if they were using any feedback from players and critics. Raoul Barbet, the game’s director, assured me that the story has already been written, and they’ve already started working on later episodes. However, Michel reassured that they’ve enjoyed reading the feedback and may still consider ways to please fans in the final product. He also went on to talk about how using the episodic format was effective in building hype for the game, inspiring writings and purchases before the other episodes were released. It’s hard to deny the truth in that method.
As an aside, because I had recently played DONTNOD’s debut title, Remember Me, recently, I wanted to chat a bit about my experience with the game. I expressed that though I had sympathetic criticisms of the game to other reviewers, I thought the environment design was wonderful, and I spent a lot of time exploring them even during urgent moments in the game. Raoul, bringing the conversation back on topic, said this was part of the reason why they went with a game format like that of Life Is Strange. They wanted to create a slow-paced game that players could spend hours exploring, allowing players time to appreciate all the hard work put into it. So the decision to move away from action is actually not so surprising.
DONTNOD wasn’t firm on the date but said that Episode 2, titled “Out of Time” will be available before the end of March. In the meantime, I’ve got the first episode to check out!