Sunday, 6 December 2015

Life is Strange

For those who don't know, I've been a gamer for far too many years to count. In fact, adventure games from the 8-bit era were my first introduction to gaming, and brought forth my interest in role-playing games as well as writing.

This year, Life is Strange was released, in 5 separate episodes. I was intrigued at first, but didn't bite, as I kind of wanted to play the whole thing through without waiting. This last week, that's what I did.

Wow. Most games, particularly the sort of RPG's that I love, from Knights of the Old Republic, to the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series give you branching dialog and options, and you'll generally have either an indication of the sort of effect your decision will have, or the game will out and out tell you whether it was good or bad.

Life is Strange just gives you the choices, and the consequences may not be felt until the subsequent episodes.

The choices themselves range from the seemingly mundane, to the absolute soul-crushing.

It's superbly voiced, the soundtrack is terrific, and while I don't want to spoil a moment of it, the whole living, breathing world of Arcadia Bay came to life over the course of my 20 hours with the game.

As a writer, and a software developer with an eye on building my own games, I have to say that Life is Strange has inspired me and spurred me on with my own plans and designs.

Games have been a huge part of my life, but I can't think of any title that has affected me as much as Life is Strange. Whether you are a game player or a game writer, a writer or a reader, I have to say: play this game.

Hands-down my favourite game of 2015, Life is Strange is at turns beautiful, haunting, funny, heart-breaking, and horrifying, and overall, glorious.

We all have the same eventual fate - we're all mortal, our brief time on Earth is guaranteed to end at some point  - it's the choices we make along the way that define us. Life is Strange may be "just a game", but it demonstrates perfectly that "it's not where you're going, it's how you get there."