Life Is Strange: Episode 1, Chrysalis – Review

A time travelling choice game from a studio other than Telltale Games sounded intriguing at the outset, but the fascinating time travelling concept can only carry this game so far.

The story begins with protagonist Max Caufield awaking to find herself on a stormy shore, with no memory of how she got there, before waking up in her photography class, and realising the entire thing was a dream. There’s not much to go on with our protagonist, you’ll have to delve through her journal in this opening scene to get a sense of who she is and the school that she attends, but even then actual details about her are scarce to come by.

After flunking through the class Max then goes to the bathroom, where she then witnesses a girls murder at the hands of a seemingly deranged boy with a gun. Upon reaching out to prevent the incident, Max is then unwittingly transported back to when we first joined her, in the photography class. It’s here that players first get to play around with Max’s newfound abilities, going back in time to answer several questions correctly, and exiting the class quickly in order to prevent the murder, which she successfully does by setting off the schools fire alarm.

After some tedious tasks involving a flash drive and some pranking (basically an extended tutorial for your powers), Max runs by chance into her best friend from five years ago, Chloe, the same girl who’s life she saved in the beginning of the game, even though Max failed to recognise her. Neither the dialogue nor the gameplay had been stellar up to this point, and it takes a turn for the worse here, as the two estranged friends have a very blunt and awkward conversation, in which we get to know Chloe in a lot more depth, while Max continues to play her cards close to her chest.

It’s at Chloe’s house that the plot thickens somewhat, with the overarching themes for the season being a hunt for Chloe’s missing friend and taking on the family who have the town in their pocket, the same family that the boy who originally killed Chloe belongs to. These are all interesting themes to delve into, but both will likely take the backseat in the wake of Max’s discovery that a tornado is due to wipe out the town of Arcadia in merely four days.

As poor as the protagonist, gameplay and dialogue are for this opening tutorial episode, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing Max’s powers and the tornado explored, as well as the hunt for Chloe’s missing friend. Here’s hoping the series can pick up after this opening setback.

5/10

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