After a triumphant platinuming of the beautiful Ratchet and Clank, the next game to cross off my list of shame was Life is Strange. I’d heard a lot of hype about this title, developed by Square Enix and in the style of the ever-popular and incredibly jingle-worthy Telltale Games Series, I was really looking forward to playing this. Combine that with the fact that Life is Strange had been nominated for a serious number of awards, my appetite was wetted. If you can’t tell already from the way I’ve phrased this paragraph, Life Is Strange has been an utter disappointment.
Now the first way that this was a let down, is somewhat forgivable. Because Ratchet and Clank was just so god damn beautiful, this game looked like it was a PS2 title. Yes, the game was developed in parallel for PS3 and PS4, so it was never going to be the best looking game on the platform, but still, I was expecting more than what I got. I have serious fear that the standard of Ratchet and Clank is going to ruin some classic games for me for the next few months. From the looks of it Uncharted 4 is only going to add to this conundrum.
So visuals aside, where did Life is Strange fall short?
Well, the main issue here is the story line. What I was expecting from reading a few far more complimentary posts than this one, was that Life is Strange was going to be the love child of Heavy Rain and any Telltale Game title. That screams "must play" to me. But oh god, I wish I had never turned this on.
The preface of the game is that the main character, Max, suddenly discovers that she can manipulate time, enabling her to travel back and change her decisions. This enables you to gain information from conversations, rewind time, then use that learned information to further the story. Sounds like an interesting premise, but the way that this crowbarred into the game is very unimaginative. The game forces you to make mistakes, to go back and fix them. My first thought here is, what is the point? There are occasions when I can see the solution to a problem before having to rewind, but I have to make the initial stupid mistake before being able to progress. It’s boring, it’s frustrating and it's mind numbingly repetitive.
The storyline, is using this power to discover what happened to a missing girl named Rachel. Again, it’s a topic that is full of intrigue and it sounds motivating to play. What isn’t explained, is that to save Rachel, you have to use your power hundreds of times to basically elevate yourself through a clichéd, overly stereotypical American high school situation. You are required to use your power to become more/less bitchy, discover a new look and un-spill your soft drink over the book you borrowed from your friend. I mean, could you get more mundane? Add this to the fact that Max has so many emotions, she could run the whole of tumblr all by herself, you have all the ingredients for a really painful playing experience.
Next up is the scripting - spoiler alert, it's awful. It’s like an adult who read a 14 year old girls twitter page took all of the slang that she used on there and randomly arranged it into a script, and thought it was cool. It’s not cool, it’s painful. If I hear the main character - who is the biggest wet lettuce ever to grace a console game - say 'hella good’, 'beeaatch’ or * 'punk rock chick’ one more time, I will boycott anything ever made by DONTNOD studios ever again. Which is pretty safe as after this utter garbage they’ve churned out, I don’t expect them to recover in my eyes anytime soon.
Have I been overly harsh? Maybe, but probably not. The game is entirely faulted, it has two saving graces. The first of these, is that the soundtrack is glorious, a beautiful arrangement of some of my favourite acoustic tracks from Alt-J and José Gonzalez. The second of these, is that this is another incredibly straightforward platinum. Play through the game taking all of the optional photos and the jingle is yours.
In short, unless you are desperate - and I mean really, really desperate - for an easy platinum, don’t go anywhere near Life Is Strange. It has won the award for the most boring game I have ever played. It doesn’t have the emotion, the story telling power, or the impactive decisions of a Telltale Game. In those series, you choices carry weight. Ironically, the warning at the beginning of Life is Strange reads:
“Your decisions will seriously impact the past, present and future”
Utter BS. Your decisions basically decide which of the overly emotionally charged, and downright annoying school girls will be more pissed off about you and call you a ‘Beeatch’. Dull, dull and dull. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
I'm literally baffled as to how this won so many awards. The only award it has won with me, is the worst title I have played this generation, and maybe at all. Rant-over. Save your money.