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Life is Strange

is an episodic interactive drama graphic adventure video game developed by Dontnod Entertainment, and published by Square Enix. read more

6.9
Genres Adventure
Themes Sci-FiCrime
Engines
Status: Released
Release: 29-Jan-2015

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is an episodic interactive drama graphic adventure video game developed by Dontnod Entertainment, and published by Square Enix.

The game's plot focuses on Maxine Caulfield, a photography student who discovers that she has the ability to rewind time at any moment, leading her every choice to enact the butterfly effect. The game will consist of five episodes. With six weeks between each episode, it released its first on 30 January 2015. Life Is Strange is available for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One and Xbox 360 via digital distribution.Image title

In the game, story and character development serve as the central point rather than traditional graphic adventure tropes like point-and-click puzzles. The player's actions will be able to adjust the narrative as it unfolds, and reshape it once allowed to travel back in time. Themes of memory and identity are used to convey a sense of nostalgia in the realm of adolescence, while the allegory of inner struggle comes from the mystical aspects featured.

Life Is Strange received attention for its inclusion of female protagonists in the game. Before partnering with Square Enix, Dontnod Entertainment had encountered distrust in the project from publishers attempting to insert a male lead in their place.Image title

Gameplay

Life Is Strange is a graphic adventure, played from a third-person view. Introducing the mechanic of rewinding time allows the player to go back and redo any action other than what is done past a checkpoint (however long a checkpoint lasts). Outfitted with a polarity system, the choices made will alter and affect the story through short or long-term consequences. Dontnod creative director Jean-Maxime Moris added however that "for each one of your choices that you make there's no definite answer. Something good in the short-term might turn out worse later". Dialogue exchanges can be rewound while branching options are used for conversation. Once an event is reset, the details provided earlier are permitted to avail themselves in the future. Items that are collected before time traveling will be kept in the inventory after the fact. The player can also examine and interact with objects indicated by a UI of hand drawn icons, which enables puzzle solving. Easter eggs are present in all the levels of the game to accommodate its exploratory traits.Image title

Synopsis

After five years of absence, senior photography student Maxine Caulfield (voiced by Hannah Telle) returns to her hometown of Arcadia Bay, Oregon. As she reunites with her estranged best friend Chloe Price (voiced by Ashly Burch), she discovers that while Chloe was grieving her father, who died the year Maxine left town, she found support in a girl named Rachel Amber, who later went missing under suspicious circumstances. Max and Chloe decide to investigate Rachel's disappearance, and then make their way to unravel the city's hidden secrets.

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Plot

The game's prologue begins with Max Caulfield, thrown into the vision of a lighthouse destroyed by a swelling tornado. She awakes instantly to find herself in the middle of class. To restore her composure, she proceeds to the restroom. There, Max witnesses the murder of a girl. In a single, sudden effort, she rewinds time and is moved back into the classroom from before. Informed of the following outcome, she hurries off to rescue the girl, using her recently developed ability. It is later revealed that the person Max saved was her childhood friend Chloe. The two reunite and then go for a walk to the same lighthouse she recognises from her nightmare. Shortly after, she is moved back into the nightmare. Max then reveals to Chloe her capacity to travel back in time. It is made known that what she thought was a dream is rather the reckoning of a future event, and the storm, an approaching disaster headed for the town.

Episodes

  • Episode 1 − Chrysalis

  • Episode 2 − Out of Time

  • Episode 3 − Chaos Theory

  • Episode 4 − Dark Room

  • Episode 5 − Polarized

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Development

The game started development in April 2013. The episodic format was chosen by the studio for both creative reasons and financial restrictions. Life Is Strange was born out of the idea for the game mechanic, which the developer had already experimented on with their last game Remember Me. They proceeded to emphasise story and character development over traditional and intricate point-and-click puzzles. As stated by Dontnod Entertainment, "choice and consequence play a key role in how the narrative unfolds".

Dontnod co-founder Jean-Maxime Moris said of the setting and art style, "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 bring this kind of nostalgia, and I mean this in a positive way. This sense of looking inside yourself". The development team visited the region, took photographs and consulted Google Street View to make sure the environment was accurately portrayed. For the sake of serving the realism, the supernatural elements that appear in the storyline are designed as a metaphor for the characters' inner conflict. The textures seen in the game are entirely hand painted, adapted to achieve what art director Michel Koch called "impressionistic rendering". Moris remarks, "We’re not only crafting the best game we possibly can, we also feel we’re providing the type of experience that perfectly fits today’s renewed taste for originality and diversity".

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Although Life Is Strange holds significant differences from Dontnod's previous title, Moris noted that it addresses similar themes of memory and identity, and specified that, "If Remember Me was a digital look at the human identity, Life is Strange is the analog look at the same theme". Running on an improved version of Unreal Engine 3, the game takes use of the tools and special effects "like lighting and depth of field" engineered for Remember Me as well as subsequent advances. Visual effects like "post-processes", "double exposure" and overlapping "screen space particles" are used as an artistic approach to be displayed while the lead character rewinds time. All of the episodes are being made reportedly at the same time, with influences like The Walking Dead, Gone Home2 and Heavy Rain in mind. The Catcher in the Rye was an additional source of inspiration, whose main character shares a surname with the game's protagonist.

Life Is Strange is Dontnod's second title starring a female character. It was disclosed in a developer diary that, as with its first project, efforts were made by potential publishers to have a male protagonist put in place instead. Moris has brought up the Gamergate controversy in the same context as an example of "a great debate to have", but puts emphasis on that "we’re not pretending to address the issue or use the issue to stand out from the rest. We’re just making the games we want to make and characters that are suitable for the story; in this case with 2 female characters". During a Reddit AMA, co-game director Michel Koch reiterated, "To be honest we ... really think that the gender of a main character is quite irrelevant when creating a good story".

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The score is composed by Jonathan Morali of the band Syd Matters. Inspired by modern indie folk music, the soundtrack is intended to inform the mood of the game and has been said to "permeate through every layer of story, art and sound". The music contains a blend of licensed tracks and composed pieces, considered by Moris as "50% of the experience". Featured on the soundtrack are artists such as Syd Matters, Mogwai, alt-J, José González, Sparklehorse, Local Natives and Bright Eyes.

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Release

Square Enix announced Life Is Strange on 11 August 2014, along with its developer Dontnod Entertainment. In November 2014, the publisher expressed interest in having physical copies released of the game, but added that they "are currently 100 per cent focused on the digital release". The release date of the first episode was announced the following month as 30 January 2015. The announcement also accompanied the reveal of the game's first trailer.

In February 2015, an unfinished version of the second episode was leaked online. In response to this, a Dontnod representative told in an official statement, "We’ve seen the leak ... and it deeply saddens us that something we’ve invested so much time and passion into is available unfinished and not as we intended you to experience it. Please support us by ignoring the temptation to download work in progress code, we promise you there are still plenty of things we’re improving and polishing and episode 2 will be ready for release in mid-march".

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Life is Strange, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.


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