As a little side-project, Square Enix allowed a small team from DONTNOD Entertainment to develop a low-budget episodic series that has since exploded into the critically acclaimed series known as Life is Strange. The fourth of five episodes is scheduled for launch on Tuesday, July 28th and this information came with a trailer.
As the trailer has no problem admitting, players and critics alike are loving this series. It’s strength comes from its approach to narrative. The plot has clearly gotten a lot of attention from the developers and they’ve tailored mechanics that walk hand in hand with it. Maxine, the protagonist, finds out early in the first episode that she has the power to rewind time while retaining the knowledge of all the timelines she visits via rewinding and changing things, a la The Butterfly Effect. The major difference, here, being that the player is in direct control of when time is reversed, how far back Maxine travels, and what she does with the opportunities that presents. The sum of these factors is a cast of characters that feel real and who interact in a way that attempts to resemble real interactions, and who all react to the different things you do in different ways. It’s one of the most interactive game plots out there.
Maxine is a freshman in an artsy private college set in her home town, Arcadia Bay, from which she moved away to Seattle five years prior. Immediately, this sets up a plethora of plot devices involving broken friendships, feelings of betrayal, and unfinished business, which are all played on in various ways.
Despite the cacophony of praise, the low budget of the project is the primary source of all its flaws. Most notable of these is the lip syncing, which isn’t really there. Graphical fidelity may also push a few potential players away from this series. Evident, however, is that most people that can get past that end up enjoying the experience in the long run.
Once more, expect to see Life is Strange: Episode Four released July 28th.