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Review: Life is Strange Episode One: Chrysalis

If you want to lose all hope for the graphic adventure genre made popular by Telltale, then boy do I have the game for you: Life is Strange. Released last year, I'm finally able to play the game for free, and sadly I don't see the hype. In fact, it might just be one of the worst adventure games I've ever played.

Name: Life is Strange Episode One: Chrysalis
Developer: DONTNOD
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC/Linux/Mac (PC Reviewed)
Release Date: January 29, 2015
Players: 1
MSRP: Free

Life is Strange looks fine. For a budget episodic game, it looks better than the Telltale games but it still doesn't look absolutely amazing. The game does have a very distinct art style, however, especially in the menus and photos. It makes the game have a somewhat hand drawn look in these areas, making it stand out from most games.

Images courtesy of Square Enix and DONTNOD

If you're familiar with a Telltale game, you will also be very familiar with its gameplay. The game controls fine, but you may find the game a bit awkward to play on a keyboard. The main difference in this game is its time travel mechanic. By reversing time, you can change your decisions and move back in time during dialogue to learn more info. Thankfully, the game doesn't have any quick-time events, which is a common gripe with other games of its genre.

Images courtesy of Square Enix and DONTNOD

However, Life is Strange crashes and burns on the back of its poorly written characters. To put it in the nicest way possible, I do not like a single character featured in this episode. To put it in the meanest way possible, if any of these characters were real, they'd be walking cringe compilations that I'd punch in the face.

Images courtesy of Square Enix and DONTNOD

The game's writing is atrocious. I mean it. For a game revolving around teenagers, none of the teenagers ever speak like teenagers. It's painfully obvious that whoever wrote this hasn't stepped foot inside an American high school for at least ten years, and the dialogue shows this.

Images courtesy of Square Enix and DONTNOD

The best example of both of these issues is the protagonist's best friend, Chloe. Chloe is meant to be the "edgy" character, and the writing shoves this down your throat (blue hair, hates her parents, listens to punk music). She also has an incessant need to say "hella" every other sentence, something no one (especially no teenager) has said unironically for the past ten years.

Images courtesy of Square Enix and DONTNOD

This episode's lackluster writing continues to the antagonists. This game (so far) has three antagonists. Unlike the rest of the cast, who need to stop talking, these three are given almost no time at all. In fact, two of them are almost the exact same characters (one's a student who's a psychopath, the other's a faculty member who's a psychopath).

Images courtesy of Square Enix and DONTNOD

Life is Strange has... voice acting. It's not very good, and it helps me hate the characters even more. It also has an actual soundtrack. It fits the style and characters, but at some times it can get a little grating. It generally has an indie-folk sound that isn't quite my cup of tea, but it doesn't hurt the experience any.

Images courtesy of Square Enix and DONTNOD

To put it simply, I didn't like Life is Strange. At all. It's a game that rides on the back of it's plot and characters, yet the characters introduced so far are so unlikeable and poorly written that you couldn't care less about the danger that they face in the plot. If this episode were not free, I would not have played it. I honestly feel bad for anyone who paid five (or twenty-five) dollars to play this mess. It may get better as the story progresses, but I doubt it.

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Writer, Intern, Lifelong Gamer, Amiibo Hunter, Masterful Memester.