Life Is Strange: Episode 1 - Chrysalis, Something about a butterfly flapping its wings.

French videogame developer Dontnod left mixed impressions with it debut game, Remember Me, garnering praise and condemnation in equal measure for the story, combat and platforming but also gathered quite a bit of praise for the strong female protagonist and the ambition of the storytelling. Dontnod’s second outing, Life Is Strange is a very different affair, eschewing many of the troublesome aspects of Remember Me and instead concentrating on proven strengths ambition and a strong female lead. The result is a wonderful, melancholy adventure that combines a troubled homecoming, mumblecore and time travel in a memorable and extremely enjoyable way.


Maxine Caulfield is a shy photography student, recently returned to her hometown, Arcadia Bay in Oregon to study at the prestigious Blackwell Academy. Ostracised from her former best friend, Chloe due to a lack of contact over the five years of her absence, Maxine is something of an outcast, not cool or rich enough to be part of the influential Vortex Club and not outgoing and friendly enough to have a wide circle of friends. To make matters more confusing for a young, insecure woman, upon waking from a vivid nightmare in which a massive hurricane obliterates Arcadia Bay, Max also discovers she has the ability to control time, allowing her to rewind to certain points and rethink her initial decisions.
At any time Max can rewind time a little enabling the player to change outcomes or decisions
The time control concept permeates every aspect of Life Is Strange and forms the crux of the action in this otherwise fairly traditional point and click adventure. At any time Max can rewind time a little enabling the player to change outcomes or decisions, or use new information to inform dialogue choices. One of Maxine’s first uses of her power it to feign knowledge. She is asked a question in class but doesn’t know the answer. When another student answers, Max can rewind time and answer the question again, this time using an extra dialogue prompt with the correct answer as provided by the other student in the future. These back and forth games with time form the backbone of the puzzling in Life Is Strange and for the most part work well and tie in with the overall themes of the game. Only a few stand out as being overly “gamey” puzzles with no other apparent purpose than to add some padding but these are the exception, not the rule.

At certain points in the game the decisions Max makes become set in stone. Knowing the immediate consequences of decisions makes these moments quite powerful as you’re forced to decide between short term gain and long term, unknown ramifications. Despite a few overly contrived puzzles, an at times rather painfully repetitive soundtrack and some pretty terrible lip-synch, Life Is Strange: Episode 1 - Chrysalis gets Dontnod’s episodic adventure off to a very strong start. If only we could manipulate time a little so all five episodes were available now.

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