In 2015, Telltale Games dominated the point-and-click genre, reinventing the archaic category with a cinematic twist. However, enter DONTNOD into the frame with their innovative concept that prepared change the way we experienced the choose-your-path narrative.
Is it possible to out-Telltale, Telltale? Well, DONTNOD were about to accomplish this feat. Off the lukewarm reception surrounding the studio’s first release in “Remember Me”, the French developer decided to change up their strategy and deviate from the action adventure platformer to the point-and-click style narrative driven, cinematic drama. Life is Strange changed the game with its unique spin, and total freedom surrounding the notion that choosing events thoughtfully could drastically impact one’s outcome. The Butterfly effect is the nuance that carries this emotionally charged tale, with implications that left fans completely flawed.
Portraying Max Caufield, a young teenage student who had just returned to her home town of Arcadia Bay, after her family uprooted to Seattle, leaving behind her best friend, Chloe Price. Chloe – a troubled young adolescent had lost her father just prior to the Caufield’s leaving town – leads a rebellious lifestyle, in retaliation towards her tragic loss. Since dropping out of high school, Price had become a notorious drug smuggler all-while owing multiple debts to dealers throughout the county. This leads to her untimely death; shot dead in a bathroom stall at Blackwell Academy with Max hiding in the room, witnessing the event.
After being murdered in cold blood, Max reaches out to help her friend. However in the blink of an eye, the teen ends up back in her classroom where she had just been quizzed by her Photography Teacher, Mark Jefferson mere moments prior. Dazed and confused, Max questions her wellbeing at the time wondering if she had just passed out in class and experienced a premonition. With the teen experiencing a lucid dream-state style Deja Vu, she rushes back to the stall after class ends, with repeat events unfolding. Just as Chloe and her assailant enter the college bathroom, Max pulls the trigger on the fire alarm, allowing Chloe to make her getaway and saving her best friend in the process.
So you guessed it, Life is Strange is a point-and-click style, carve your own path, time-twisting cinematic. It’s one of the best narrative driven titles I personally have had the pleasure of experiencing. We know how the franchise unfoldeds with a canonical prequel in Before the Storm, and its sequel that essentially takes place within the same universe, but leads with brand new protagonists. However, nothing will ever match DONTNOD’s original vision for the Life is Strange series. Sure it has some cheesy Veronica Mars tropes, all while adding those less-than-desirable hipster anecdotes, but damn if it wasn’t a Hella great tale.
Life Is Strange is a series of episodic graphic adventure games published by Square Enix. Created by Dontnod Entertainment, the series debuted with the eponymous first installment, which released episodically in five installments across 2015.