'Life Is Strange' Begins To Spin Its Web With 'Chrysalis'

February 9, 2015

One of the more promising trends that have developed in gaming over the last couple of years is developers putting more of an emphasis on story than gameplay. For example, Telltale have become experts at crafting wonderful stories that take place within existing worlds like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones using this narrative-first philosophy. Overall, it's worked exceptionally well for them, winning critical acclaim, stacks of awards, and legions of fans, but it beckons the question as to whether or not they have explored all facets of these games. In other words, what's the next step for this genre to take it to the next level? French developer Dontnod Entertainment are attempting to answer that question, and see how far they can take it in their original, episodic adventure, Life Is Strange with its debut, Chrysalis.

Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix

As a fairly new studio, Dontnod Entertainment may not sound too familiar, but they already have one high-profile release to their credit. Dontnod were the team behind 2013's ambitious effort Remember Me, which was one of Capcom's last original releases. Even though the studio has gone through a bit of turmoil since they were founded in 2008, Life is Strange is their second release, and it's likely to leave a lasting impression on anyone that plays it.

Maxine Caulfield just moved back to her hometown to go to a prestigious arts high school for her senior year, and things start get a bit weird. While trying to navigate all the common pitfalls of high school (cliques, mean girls, and annoying teachers), Max discovers that she has the ability to rewind a limited amount of time. Since Life is Strange is an adventure game, and the player is pulling the strings behind Max's decisions, having the ability to rewind, and undo bad choices is really advantageous. As the story develops, Max ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time a lot, and she has the chance to turn things around, both for herself, and her friends. Each decision she makes can have a lasting effect on her world and her story as it develops, all of which will carry over into the next episodes.

If you're ready to jump into the sneakers of an awkward teenage girl with weird powers, then you can check out the first episode of Life is Strange on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, or PC.

Life is Strange offers a great new take on the adventure genre. While the game does feel akin to Telltale's creations, there are enough fresh ideas here to have Life is Strange stand on its own. The introduction of the time-rewinding mechanic, allowing you to instantly alter the choices that you make, really switches up the game, allowing players full control over the outcome of the story. Even if you disregard these new mechanics, Max's adventure feels completely fresh, and welcome in an industry dominated by macho dudes, who are off to fight a war of some kind. Teenage girls don’t often get to step into the spotlight in video games, and Life is Strange gives players that opportunity, in an artistic and thought-provoking way. Chrysalis is a solid start to what could develop into a genre-defining release, as long as the next few episodes maintain the same level of quality as the first one.