Life Is Strange: Some games are better enjoyed in pairs

I want to play a game with choices in it!” demanded my fiancée, as a follow-up to her insistence that we play a game together for once. “What about this Life is Strange, then?” I blurted as a half-panicked reply. “It is, after all, a game based entirely around making decisions.” “Hmm.” She didn’t immediately shoot the suggestion down. Choice as good as made.

Just as well as I’d already picked it up on a whim, then, fancying something different and ignoring all of my peers who were telling me that it simply wasn’t going to be my thing. I’d played about the first hour of it and, for the most part, they were correct. I’d done a few puzzles using the time-travel mechanic and a more fleshed-out experience had started to reveal itself, but it was clearly going to rely on me becoming attached to the story and characters first and I didn’t see that happening any time soon.

Fast forward to a week or so later,  and my good lady is approaching the end of Episode 1: Chrysalis. In its opening stretch, I was doing anything but paying attention but as the episode went on, I found myself getting drawn in. Since I didn’t have to actually do all that walking around myself, listening to all the different bits of flavour dialogue in a world that I wasn’t quite invested in, I was free to cherry-pick the more interesting-sounding scenes and so by the time Episode 1 reached its end, I was hooked.
Since I didn’t have to do the walking about, I was free to cherry-pick the more interesting-sounding scenes
Without my new gaming sidekick to do the heavy lifting, I would never have unearthed the second episode, which as it turns out is much stronger. It focuses on a drama that ties all the characters together, specifically a video that’s gone viral featuring a girl called Kate in a compromising situation. Her reaction to it, the community’s reaction to her, how you deal with it and ultimately who could be behind it make up the core storyline to the episode. There’s less of a focus on the supernatural stuff, and when Max’s time travel does come into play, it’s to weave interesting puzzles rather than retread decisions or dialogue.

I found myself having very loud opinions on characters who could have dropped dead in the middle of the screen a month ago and I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. After a slow start, the niche world of Life is Strange has, against all odds, joined blockbuster TV shows such as Game of Thrones as something we’re both invested in.

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