Life is Strange is a five-part episodic graphic action drama adventure game that sets out to revolutionize story-based choice and consequence games. It was developed by DONTNOD Entertainment and published by Square Enix. The developers describe the game as a nostalgic coming-of-age story that combines the present with the past, creating key moments for each episode. Episode 1, "Chrysalis", was released on January 29, 2015. The final episode, "Polarized", was released on October 20, 2015. The PEGI age rating is 16. A Japanese version was released on March 3, 2016.
The game's protagonist is Maxine Caulfield, better known as Max, a shy 18-year-old photography senior who discovers she can rewind time to change the course of events. Back in her hometown Arcadia Bay, a picturesque seaside town in Oregon, Max is reunited with her old friend, Chloe Price, and they start to uncover the truth behind fellow student Rachel Amber's mysterious disappearance, and soon they find themselves exposed to the darker side of Arcadia Bay.
Max gets disturbing premonitions of the future, and must take on the responsibility to prevent a devasting destiny for her town. As she struggles to understand the implications of her power, she must quickly learn which consequences her interfering in time and space holds.
The characters have to deal with everyday life issues created by their own families and school mates, and as you can expect in a typical public high school environment, there is a lot of high school drama, and sometimes teens make bad decisions. Players will be given the opportunity to make choices while playing Max, and each choice will have consequences in gameplay. Her ability to 'rewind time' will impact the game's narrative. There are multiple endings depending on the choices the player makes for Max. The game has a licensed indie soundtrack and hand-painted visuals.
The game approaches real world issues and problematic situations such as depression, bullying, suicide, mental illness and the loss of loved ones.
- Life is Strange is an interactive episodic, modern adventure game with a twist.
- Player choice and consequence play a key role and your actions will determine how the story unfolds around you.
- The rewind feature allows you to go back in time by a few moments at any point: solve puzzles, change reactions, or simply experience new choices.
- Discover how it is to return to a world that lies 5 years behind you, and rekindle with your childhood friend.
- Explore the picturesque seaside town Arcadia Bay and the stories behind its people as you investigate the mysterious disappearance of Rachel Amber.
- Discover the world of art and photography at the prestigious Blackwell Academy.
- True to the lives of most modern teenagers, you get insights into Max's cellphone and her diary, which records your exploration in Arcadia Bay and reveals extra snippets of Max's inner thoughts depending on your choices.
- Distinct soundtrack, with modern indie-folk influences.
- Striking art style, with hand-drawn textures to give it a highly unique look.
On October 7th, Max finds out she can rewind time when she uses it to save her old friend Chloe from being shot by Nathan Prescott. They later reunite and Max senses that a storm is coming after getting premonitions.
Episode 2: Out Of Time Edit
On October 8th, Max tries to find out more about her ability to rewind time, and finds out the reason for Kate's sudden change in mood and behavior. Chloe tests out Max's rewind power intensively and Max starts to discover the limits on her ability. Max will eventually discover the ability to stop time itself to save her friend Kate from a suicide attempt.
Episode 3: Chaos Theory Edit
On October 8th, Max and Chloe’s investigation into Rachel Amber’s disappearance lead them to break into Blackwell Academy after dark, searching for answers. It’s here and in the following day, they discover that Rachel kept many secrets and was not the person Chloe thought she knew. Max meanwhile discovers she has another power that brings with it some devastating consequences.
In an alternative timeline created by Max's actions to save Chloe's father, William, Max learns the consequences of her abilities and changes things back to the way they were. In the original timeline, Max and Chloe work together to piece evidence that Nathan Prescott drugged Kate and is going to strike again at the Vortex Club Party. They discover the Dark Room and Rachel Amber's whereabouts, and get outmaneuvered by the real culprit.
Trapped in the Dark Room, Max must escape and rewind to save Chloe from the gunshot by Mr. Jefferson. Finding out Nathan was killed, Max eventually finds a way to reunite with Chloe. Max is confronted with the devastating consequences of her actions over the week and her biggest fears, and in the end, is left with two choices: Sacrificing Chloe, saving Arcadia Bay and her friends, but Chloe ends up dead; or sacrificing Arcadia Bay, presumably killing all her friends, but leaving Chloe alive. The two leave the town's ruins in Chloe's truck shortly after the town's destruction.
Early Development Edit
The development of Life is Strange took place over the span of three years. During the first year of development, it wasn’t the main project at DONTNOD Entertainment so they only had a small team of around fifteen people working on the prototype of the game.
The initial idea for Life is Strange had its origin in Dontnod's first game Remember Me's memory remixes. Based on the memory remix concept, they developed the rewind mechanism to tell a coming-of-age story about growing up, about the impact even small choices in your life can have, and "about realising that sometimes you need to stop looking backwards and wanting to change everything."
Themes and Social Issues Edit
“We knew that we wanted to use this mechanism as a tool, as a metaphor, to tell this coming-of-age story. To tell a story about growing up, about realising that sometimes you need to stop looking backwards and wanting to change everything," Michel Koch explained.
As well as drawing from personal experience for their writing, Dontnod also ensured they heavily researched the topics they were covering to ensure accuracy and respect. “That was our responsibility, especially when you decide to cover these topics in a videogame where you’re putting the player in those positions,” Michel Koch explained.
From early on they, the developers team wanted the game's environment to be based on a small town on the coastline of Oregon. The main reference for the town of Arcadia Bay was Astoria, a city on the hillside of Oregon, but it was way too big for the setting they were aiming for. Eventually they found Garibaldi, a much smaller town which was working well with its main street running along the coast.
Jean-Maxime Moris said that, "the Pacific Northwest was something that we determined very early in the development process as the place we wanted to set the game in. That's because we wanted to have this very nostalgic and autumnal feel to the game, and in terms of colors ... to me it's really one of those places that brings this kind of nostalgia, and I mean this in a positive way. This sense of looking inside yourself".
Visual Style Edit
With a clear vision for the game's visual style, Art Director Michel Koch gathered art references from artists who are known for their realistic shapes with stylized textures such as Alberto Mieglo, known for the "smooth blend of photorealism and abstraction" of his paintings. From the very beginning, the game was aimed to look like animated concept art, which was a major aspect of the art direction. The 3D artists had to translate the painterly look of the concept art primarily provided by Edouard Caplain into 3D models, and all textures were hand-painted to achieve what artistic director Michel Koch called "impressionistic rendering". The stylized effect was intentionally chosen as it would work best with the game's focus on its narrative aspect. It was meant to make it easier for the players to focus on and identify with the characters as well as to convey emotions more powerfully by using colors or lighting which would be too subtle to capture in real life otherwise.
System Requirements Edit
|OS: Windows Vista||OS: Windows 7|
|Processor: Dual Core 2.0GHz or equivalent||Processor: Dual Core 3.0GHz or equivalent|
|Memory: 2 GB RAM||Memory: 2 GB RAM|
|Graphics: ATI or NVidia card w/ 512 MB RAM (not recommended for Intel HD Graphics cards)||Graphics: ATI or NVidia card w/ 1024 MB RAM (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 or ATI HD 4890)|
|DirectX: Version 9.0||DirectX: Version 9.0|
|Hard Drive: 3 GB available space||Hard Drive: 3 GB available space|
During its release, Life is Strange received generally favorable reviews commending the character development, rewind game mechanic and use of taboo subjects. Reviewers disliked the slang, lack of lip-syncing and tonal inconsistencies. It had sold one million digital copies by the end of July 2015. As of May 2017, more than three million copies have been sold.
- It is rated as "overwhelmingly positive" (with 96% of over 27,000 user reviews positive) on Steam. On Metacritic it currently has a Metascore of 82/100 and a User Score of 8.8.
- 5/5 “After 'Episode Two: Out of Time,' Dontnod's 'Life is Strange' is the best episodic adventure game out there. With more character depth, and more gameplay, along with a technically superior game engine, there's really no debate." - BlogCritics
- 90% "Dontnod have clearly put a lot of effort into the little details and it’s worth your time paying attention to their work." – Siliconera
- 5/5 Stars "Magnificently charming atmosphere" - The Examiner
Awards and Nominations Edit
|2015||Develop Industry Excellence Awards||New Games IP – PC/console||Life is Strange||Won|
|Use of Narrative||Won|
|Golden Joystick Award||Best Original Game||Runner-Up|
|Best Gaming Moment||Saving Kate||Third|
|Performance of the Year||Ashly Burch as Chloe||Won|
|Game of the Year||Life is Strange||Third|
|Global Game Awards||Best Adventure||Life is Strange – Episode 1||Won|
|Best Original Game||Won|
|Game of the Year||Second|
|The Game Awards||Best Narrative||Life is Strange||Nominated|
|Best Performance||Ashly Burch as Chloe||Nominated|
|Games For Change||Life is Strange||Won|
|PlayStation Official Magazine||Best Episodic Adventure||Won|
|Best Moment||Episode 2 conclusion||Won|
|Vice Canada's Top 20 video games of 2015||Best Game||Life is Strange||Fourth|
|Vulture's Top 10 video games of 2015||Won|
|Red Bull Games' Top 10 video games of 2015||Second|
|Polygon's Games of the Year 2015||Game of the Year||Seventh|
|Destructoid's Best of 2015||Best Xbox One Game||Nominated|
|Eurogamer's Top 10 video games of 2015||Best Game||Tenth|
|2016||IGN's Best of 2015||Game of the Year||Nominated|
|PlayStation Blog's Best of 2015||Best PS4 Game||Nominated|
|Best Digital-Only Release||Runner-Up|
's Top 10 video games of 2015
's Best of 2015
|Best Adventure Game||Runner-Up|
|Emotional Games Awards 2016||Best Emotional Game||Won|
|Best Emotional Game Design||Nominated|
|Best Emotional Music Game||Nominated|
|DICE Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction||Nominated|
|Adventure Game of the Year||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement in Character||Max Caulfield||Nominated|
|Game Developers Choice Awards||Audience Award||Life is Strange||Won|
- In the development diary, "A New Beginning", DONTNOD Entertainment's developers state that every publisher except Square Enix asked them to make their protagonists male instead of female.
- Though it was originally named What If?, DONTNOD Entertainment considered over a hundred different names for Life is Strange. What If was not used because a Daniel Radcliffe film of the same name had been released in 2013 and 2014 earlier.
- The developers conducted research on the setting by travelling to the Pacific Northwest for the purpose of conveying a nostalgic and autumnal feel to the game. The development team visited the region, took photographs, looked at local newspapers and used Google Street View to make sure the environment was accurately portrayed.
- Artistic director Michel Koch revealed in an interview that they wrote Episode 1 with the intention of introducing the typical high school stereotypes, before building upon them and subverting them with every episode. "When we started to create every character, we really wanted to use known archetypes that people see in teenage drama and in movies." According to Koch, the developers wanted the game to have "gray characters," where no one is completely good or bad. Dontnod wanted to bring that complexity of people's personalities to Life is Strange.
- According to coding files in Life is Strange, the series may have been originally planned for eight episodes instead of five.
- While the exact number of episodes initially planned has never been officially confirmed, Dontnod's CEO, Oskar Guilbert, confirmed in an interview (recorded before the first episode came out) that more than 5 five episodes were planned "we want to be able to tell the players when episodes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc will be available" 
- Jean-Maxime Maurice, co-founder of Dontnod, said in an interview that they were very close to choose Seattle as main location for the game but they didn't because the city was too big for an intimist story. He also said they considered making the game take place in a Scandinavian country because the general atmosphere and colors would have been similar.
- The budget for Life is Strange was around €4 million. As a matter of comparison, the budget of Dontnod's previous game, Remember Me, was close to €20 million.
- Voice actress Ashly Burch, auditioned for the roles of both Max Caulfield and Chloe Price . DONTNOD blind-cast Burch as Chloe after hearing her take for the character.
- At the end of the credits on Episode 4, it says "thanks for crying" instead of "thanks for playing".
Promo Keyart Edit
Episode Keyart Edit
Promo Screenshots Edit
- ↑ Life Is Strange Wikipedia entry
- ↑ Life Is Strange’s Japanese Version Receives a Release Date (December 10, 2015)
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Edouard Caplain on the Art Behind Life Is Strange (February 9, 2016)
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 "Max and Chloe's story is done": Life is Strange devs talk the future, success, and the importance of diversity (January 22, 2016)
- ↑ Life Is Strange Gameplay Preview Interview (August 27, 2014)
- ↑ An Appreciation of Alberto Mielgo’s Background Paintings (November 6, 2010)
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 The Artist behind Life is Strange (March 3, 2016)
- ↑ Life Is Strange Gets New Screenshots Showing Dontnod’s Lovely Art Style; It looks Super-Sweet on PS4 (August 13, 2014)
- ↑ One of the oddest reveals of Gamescom also proved to be one of the most interesting. Here's what the Remember Me developers did next (August 22, 2014)
- ↑ Life is Strange 2 finally confirmed (May 18, 2017)
- ↑ Emotional Games Awards 2016 Nominees (January 14, 2016)
- ↑ Polygon - DICE Awards finalists (13 January, 2016)
- ↑ First Love and Awkwardness: Inside the Mind of ‘Life Is Strange’ Co-Director Michel Koch (August 4, 2015)
- ↑ Remember Me creator's next game looks like Gone Home with time travel (August 14, 2014)
- ↑ Hardcore Gamer - Life Is Strange Originally had More Than Five Episodes Planned? (September 18, 2015)
- ↑ Indies @ PGW Interview Life is Strange
- ↑ Jean-Maxime Moris Interview (January 28, 2015)
- ↑ Oskar Guilbert, le miraculé du jeu vidéo français (June 13, 2016)