Life is Strange: Episode 1 – Chrysalis (XB1) Review

No more what ifs.

Imagine for a second you’re playing The Walking Dead, a very choice-driven game. You make a choice and almost immediately don’t like the outcome of what you chose. Besides going back and reloading the last checkpoint, you’re pretty much stuck with it. Now imagine that you could change it. Go back just a few seconds and change what you just did with the knowledge of what may happen with your choice. It would be a very different game. That game is Life is Strange. Now if you ask yourself “I wonder what would have happened if I chose a different path?”, you can find out with no consequences.

Players take control of Max, a senior going to a boarding high school in her old home town after moving away to Seattle five years earlier. Going along with teen angst, trying to fit in with her classmates and looking for her calling in life, she discovers a very interesting and unique gift she has – the ability to reverse time while being fully conscious of what just happened. She discovers this by observing a very dangerous encounter in the school bathroom, and the rest of the episode features her coming to terms with the fact that she has this power.

Chloe’s got a gun.

Platforms: PS4, XB1, PC, 360, PS3
MSRP: $4.99
Price I’d pay: $4.99
Length: 2 ½ – 3 hours

Let’s see that from a different angle.

In the same vein as the Telltale games, Life is Strange is a story-driven adventure game that focuses on character interactions, exploration and choices. Examining the environment and interacting with people all have an effect on the story, and players can choose to reverse time and change their decisions based on Max’s thoughts on the situation. Handling a conversation a different way may open up more dialog options, or Max may discover more information. This also allows for Max to be a bit nosy in people’s business and get away with it. So, let’s say Max looks through someone’s boxes and finds some sensitive information on the person. That person catches her rummaging through their stuff and gets upset. Max can rewind time to before she was caught and still know what she found in the box.

Exploration is an important part to Life is Strange. In Telltale fashion, at the end of the episode, it showed me what choice I made and what others made, and there were many I didn’t even see or knew I could do because I didn’t explore more. Examining everything and interacting with as much as possible will offer up the most content.

Do teenagers really talk like this?

I do like the art style of the game. It has a simple look while still being very colorful and vibrant. It works well with the setting and overall vibe. While the game looks fine, I did find it very jarring that the mouths almost never matched up with what people were saying. For a dialog heavy game like this, it really needs to be addressed in future episodes. While we’re on the topic of dialog, I know I’m 29 and considered “old” by teenager standards, but some of the dialog sounds like an adult’s interpretation of how a teenager talks. “I’m cereal right now.” And using terms like “hella good” and spelling “crazy” with a “k” just strike me as someone trying a bit too hard to be a teen. Then again, I’m an old fogey so what do I know?

Man, we are out of Cookie Crisp.

The storytelling in Episode 1 feels like a large introduction, which it is, but at the same time, I felt other than the overarching crisis, it really didn’t set up too much. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very interested to see where the story goes from here, and I will most certainly pick up Episode 2 when it releases in March.

Fans of the Telltale adventure games and people looking for something unique in terms of storytelling and mechanics should really give Life is Strange a shot. It sets up a decent premise and keeps the player invested for the 3 hour duration of the episode. I for one enjoyed what I played, even when the dialog became “too hip” for me. I say give it a shot. It most certainly is something very different.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Good

  • Interesting story
  • Reverse mechanic is unique
  • Nice visual art style

Bad

  • Mouths really don’t match up to the dialog
  • Dialog feels a bit hokey at times
8

Great

Drew is the Community Manager here at ZTGD and his accent simply woos the ladies. His rage is only surpassed by the great one himself and no one should stand between him and his Twizzlers.
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