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Life is Strange: Remastered Collection (Switch) Review

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Life is Strange: Remastered Collection (Switch) Review

Editor's Note

The following review of Life is Strange: Remastered Collection (Switch), is in addendum to our original review for Life is Strange: Remastered Collection, released on February 1, 2022 for PlayStation, XBOX & PC. For our original review, click here.

A Better Playback... 

SOLID POINTS

✔️While it may be capped at 30fps, the title still shines on the OLED Switch.

✔️Remains a clinical masterpiece in point-and-click adventure titles.

✔️Funnily enough, the best version of the remaster.

❌Resolution while docked show’s port’s weakness.

❌Still prefer the original over the remaster.

Let’s wind back to February of this year. Life is Strange: Arcadia Bay Collection was released to a mixed reception, and without question had some issues that needed to be addressed. While the Nintendo Switch version was expected earlier on, we were more than happy to give developers time to iron out any potential problems for the hybrid handheld-home console. It would have been ill fated from its launch to Nintendo’s platform if it had released simultaneously with other systems, so it was wise for Deck Nine and Square-Enix to delay the collection here. To my surprise, the game performs better on the Switch than PC, with some caveats of course.

The issues I initially had with the collection had been polished, so no weird hitches and glitches were occurring, but some sacrifices such as resolution and framerate were on the cards. Capped at 30fps, the title is significantly stabilised for Switch, and looks absolutely stunning on the Switch’s OLED Model. It’s almost like the title had finally found its home on the handheld side of Nintendo’s platform, giving players the opportunity to take the title on the go, without the impeding presence of touch screen controls once plaguing the poorly performing port on iOS. While the experience itself remains identical in gameplay, its presentation takes a minor hit.

If you care to play the title in docked mode – for which I would recommend picking up the original titles for the best experience on PC, PS5 or XBOX – the game bears its weak spots in resolution, showing some seriously jagged models and washed out lighting will have you rushing to pick up the handheld from the dock and forget what you just saw. It does expose the downside to the hardware the port is placed on, but it’s an unfortunately an expectancy when dealing with the Nintendo Switch nowadays. The 30fps cap does itself no favours on TV, especially those with televisions that have lower refresh rates that can completely wash out, or smooth over things with optimised settings that do nothing but blur the picture to simulate a higher frame rate. The point is, you want to play this title on Switch in handheld mode, it’s unequivocally what it’s there for.

There's only a certain expertise that can pull off this sort of excellence in indie gaming, and Life is Strange continues to be a staple - a household name in gaming for it.

After a myriad of patches that were blazoned upon the Arcadia Bay collection in late March this year, the title has become more polished for other platforms given its setbacks that had made its launch a nightmare scenario. But this could very well be the do-over that the collection needed to convince fans to pick up the game, despite the platform it’s touted for in regards to this specific review. But I do believe that I’ve had the best experience thus far for the collection on the Switch. There’s just something about its homely aura that sat well with me, experiencing this Veronica Mars cross Back to the Future inspired drama. Still as charming as ever, the first game masters the art of storytelling on all levels, while its prequel in Before the Storm tells a less supernatural, and more straightforward backstory to Chloe’s perils in a teenager dealing with trauma and grief.

Play Video

After all these years, one of the most compelling tales told in gaming gets a deserved re-appraisal that’s “cleaner” on a handheld platform than it is for others. Granted, that’s directly to the collection’s coinciding releases to competing systems while its original iteration still performs outstandingly well. While imperfections still bode some issues in the long run for Life is Strange Remastered and Before the Storm Remastered, the Nintendo Switch version is the best one out of any. A comfortable vibe that took me out of my element and immersed me for hours on end. Tucking in my earbuds, taking over the couch this past weekend and just going through each title was a hella great time. Revisiting the familiar faces of Arcadia Bay, picking and choosing my path depending, spilling Frank’s beans, it was all so exciting.

Life is Strange: Arcadia Bay Collection for Nintendo Switch is well worth the pick-up for anyone yet to play this instant classic. If you have yet to, and want a more casual experience from the game, this is the ultimate choice in how to play these two titles. Life is Strange redefined the point-and-click genre, with DONTNOD directly taking inspiration from then pioneers of the modern point-and-click cinematic genre, Telltale Games. They outplayed the studio at their own game, and bought a category to prominence and mainstream, that only elevated both to new heights. Without question, we can’t deny Life is Strange’s impact on the industry as a whole, with such excellent writing and delivery across the board. There’s only a certain expertise that can pull off this sort of excellence in indie gaming, and Life is Strange continues to be a staple – a household name in gaming for it.

Original Review

Original Review by Dan Rizzo – First Published March 23, 2022.

An untimely experience... 

This one hurt a little. I absolutely adore this franchise, beyond comprehension. Life is Strange happens to be one of our most heralded titles here on DashGamer, and the word of a Remastered Collection had me elated. So bless my eyes deceive me when I began playing the first of two Remasters and in an unfortunate turn of events, it crashes. Not at all what I’ve come to expect from Life is Strange, DONTNOD’s premiere franchise that catapulted them to massive acclaim after the mixed reception met in Remember Me. But it’s not all bad, however far from perfect. Life is Strange has upheld its reputation over numerous entries, with specific themes that aim to tug at heart strings, and enter tumultuous territory within controversial and political topics. 

Play Video

The admirable attempt to bring the point-and-click genre to the forefront of mainstream gaming was effortless as DONTNOD’s storytelling in the original was fantastic, and still maintains that allure to this day. But as a gateway point for gamers that have yet to experience the franchise, is this best way to introduce them to the series? I’m still unsure. It’s as like the remaster still has some work to do, even after Square-Enix announced a litany of patches that should have addressed most of its problems. Yet, I still find myself stumbling through said issues that has seemed to rear its ugly head. You would think that taking the existing framework of both Life is Strange and Before the Storm, capitalising on its pre-existing presentation with additional polish would be simple, right? Well the Remastered Collection has proven that refurbishing and optimising can be more difficult than it seems.

Trivial Turnback...

While the Remastered Collection does an excellent job in reminding you how magical Max and Chloe’s journey is, its shortcomings are immersion breaking to say the least. For the uninitiated, Life is Strange follows transfer student Max Caulfield, who returns to her home town of Arcade Bay, Oregon, after earning a scholarship to attend one of the city’s most renowned photography courses at Blackwell Academy, taught by esteemed and highly regarded photographer, Mark Jefferson. The Veronica Mars meets Donnie Darko tale takes a sudden twist when Max finds herself in a vulnerable predicament after bearing witness to her best friend’s murder, whilst hiding in College restroom. Taking a quick snap for her class project, she’s suddenly trapped behind a stall with an erratic Nathan Prescott, entering the room looking flustered.

The Prescott family are widely known within the community as huge investors for small businesses and donate to the college on a frequent basis, giving Nathan, a ‘squeaky-clean’ record amongst Faculty staff, including Principal Raymond Wells who backs the Prescott’s as a respectable and reputable family. After a vulnerable Nathan enters the girl’s room, he’s flanked by a blue-maned punk, demanding he pay-up for an undisclosed item, which is then revealed to be drugs the duo had been dealing. The pair argue until Nathan pulls a handgun and threatens the girl. Upon shoving Prescott, he accidentally fires the weapon killing the girl in the process. Max rears her head from the stall corner in a panic, but in an odd occurrence passes out and ends up back in class, where she was only mere minutes before aforementioned events.

Not knowing what exactly just happened, Max was reliving her past. Moment-by-moment, minute-by-minute, Mr. Jefferson’s lecture was on repeat with young Max, trying her best to figure out how this was happening, and if she was dreaming or not. A bewildered Max breaks her polaroid camera, a moment which did not happen in her previous timeline, but then begins to wonder if she can rewind time. Reaching out to the broken shards of her camera lens, it’s as if the unit was mending itself yet everything around Max was moving backwards. Max had indeed somehow become capable of reversing time. Using this newfound skill, she suddenly remembers that the girl was about to be shot in the bathroom, and quickly makes an effort to repeat each event until that very moment where she changes the course of history by sounding the school’s fire alarm, alerting everyone to evacuate and diffusing the argument between Chloe and Nathan.

Life is Strange and Before the Storm are and ultimate bundle of joy and should be celebrated. It's not the perfect way to do it for the moment, but I'm sure there's going to be future fixes that will amend all prior issues mentioned.

This event alone introduces us the first game’s premise and how it would shape both Life is Strange and Life is Strange: Before the Storm’s narrative, from life to death, triumph and heartbreak and morally challenging players into choosing right from wrong, whether or not it may be the popular choice. Life is Strange makes every decision count, and moulds your path to what would be your personal perfect outcome. There’s a distinct difference made between the conventional Telltale Game, where choices only shape your character, rather this game does shape multiple personalities, their stories, their conviction and how they may be perceived, and this is all due to one small mechanic that reconfigures every fleeting moment. It’s insane how time can add multiple layers to one story, and give different sensations and emotions with each integral change. Still fascinates me.

Be Kind, Rewind...

SOLID POINTS

✔️A grand revisit to Arcadia Bay, that will have fans reminisce the OG title.

✔️Massive improvements in facial animation and some material physics.

✔️Retains dialogue, but adds new tid-bits for impact and emotion.

❌A plethora of bugs hold it back from being perfect.

❌Would have been a grander experience if rebuilt from the ground-up, ala True Colours Engine.

Okay, let’s critique the Remastered Collections issues. Playing the PC version of the game on its base version, I ran into multiple issues, including a crash on cold-boot, framerate dissipation when I had the window active and in full screen, and while they did a spectacular job in re-animating each character and their facial movements, there were moments of deadpan, stoic looks or no lip movement during dialogue. This was something promised to be fixed in the latest roll out of patches, and while I wouldn’t say they remain as consistent they seem to unfortunately persist. The use of pre-rendered cutscenes in-between key plot points is unexpected, as the original prided itself on its “indie” look, but for added effect, it seems that a completely re-rendered animated scenes with new models was an interesting decision. 

It would have been appreciated if the clips themselves matched the game’s aspect ratio, framerate and picture quality, which effectively declines drastically as they load and play. A major issue I ran into during these specific scenes was muted audio. I double checked everything I could to see if there was a problem on my end, yet Square-Enix assured us that the patch would fix this. With major story elements taking place during these essential intermissions, I was glad to see an effort made to fix most of these issues, but to still have experienced these deterrents after its initial launch and having to wait an entire month for gigabytes of patches, it was a little disheartening, especially as a massive fan.

Play Video

While graphical improvements are evident, and make all the difference from the OG’s smeared and smudged textures, the immersion is lost on some minor blemishes that I hope can be finally addressed by the development team. Still, the remastered collection contains the exact same aura as you’ve come to expect from Life is Strange and Before the Storm. Both amazing tales tied into mystique and fantasy that ultimately lead to dire consequences regardless of action and risk. The former before the latter will introduce you to Arcadia Bay, and Max’s strange reunion with her best friend Chloe Price, as its prequel Before the Storm will tell you the tale of Chloe’s tragic life circumstances after the traumatic loss of her father, and how it led to her rebellious ways, influenced by confidant, Rachel Amber. This small town has some serious baggage, and it’s up to you to unravel.

Nonetheless, Life is Strange and Before the Storm are and ultimate bundle of joy and should be celebrated. It’s not the perfect way to do it for the moment, but I’m sure there’s going to be future fixes that will amend all prior issues mentioned. But for the time being, it demonstrates how the small French studio were able to take inspiration from Telltale’s successes and turn it into a formula of their own. A distinct mechanic that redefined the way we understood click-and-point adventure games. The genre would essentially lead the player down a fixed path depending on choice, but Life is Strange turned that on its head and allowed players to make changes in real-time. Experiment with outcome, retell the tale their way and morally decide on the story’s climax. I still enjoyed my time with this collection, but have hopes that it will be given the respect it deserves with a clean slate, and some added spit-shine.

Life is Strange - Square-Enix

AVAILABLE NOW ON:

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Return to Arcadia Bay and experience two award-winning Life is Strange games like never before! Remastered visuals and animation breathe new life into the great cast of characters and gripping stories.

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Story
10
Gameplay
8
Presentation
8
Sound
8
8.5

8.5

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