Oregon, Home: Life Is Strange

Inevitably, the quotes from critics that punctuate the first trailer for Life is Strange contain references to Gone Home. Telltale comparisons might seem more valid given that Life is Strange is an episodic adventure about drama and decision-making rather than puzzling, pointing and clicking, and the floating quotes dutifully invoke The Walking Dead. But there’s some teen angst on display as well in this tale of a photography student returning to her hometown. It’s a hometown packed with melancholy and mystery, naturally, and the plot suggests there might be a touch of Veronica Mars to throw in with other apparent influences. Oh – and the main character can rewind time, obviously.

I’m very much on board with the Telltale episodic model, with its emphasis on character, dialogue and plot over puzzling and inventory fiddling. It’s an alternative to traditional adventure games that bears little resemblance to them and might not even be associated at all if Telltale’s early games hadn’t been a) based on actual Lucasarts games b) full of rubbish puzzles. I’m not suggesting that all adventure game puzzles are rubbish – far from it – but Telltale’s were, on the whole.

But episodic dramas, thrillers and sitcoms are a good thing, with interactive moments to prod the characters into particular shapes. I wasn’t particularly excited about Life Is Strange before this trailer, having found the studio’s previous title Remember Me far from memorable, but I enjoy seeing realistic locations in games. Rather than space stations and secret government headquarters, these are the kind of places that we’re all very familiar with – schools, teenagers’ bedrooms, ladies’ toilets – and that’s a pleasant change.

Of course, there’s all that time rewinding to stop this from becoming too real. Life is Strange, after all. I suspect it’ll mostly be used to show that an attempt to erase the unintended consequences of an action might cause ripples of causality that mean your pet dog is now a piece of toast, or something similarly upsetting. The main plot is about a friend who has lost a parent, another friend who has gone missing under “suspicious circumstances” and a journey into the city’s hidden secrets.

It’s good to see DONTNOD exploring a world of their own creation on what I presume are their own terms. The praise I heard for Remember Me tended to be concentrated on the quality of the environments and elements of the narrative.

I think it looks ace and we’ll know whether my excitement is misplaced soon enough – Episode One is out on January 30th. It’s £3.99 as a standalone, or you can pay £15.99 for the complete season. If you decide to buy the first episode on its own and enjoy it, the remaining four can be yours for £13.99.

27 Comments

  1. MistaJah says:

    Visual downgrade from the previous trailers.

    • DanMan says:

      That was my initial thought as well, followed by disappointment.

      But then I saw the price tag and calmed down fairly quickly. Still a bit sad though. *sniff*

  2. Mokinokaro says:

    Previous trailers were probably prerendered while this is in-game.

  3. Dorga says:

    It’s clearly the commodore 64 version. Remember me had really cool looking locations and characters and not much else.

  4. Eleven says:

    … the kind of places that we’re all very familiar with – schools, teenagers’ bedrooms, ladies’ toilets …

    Adam, remember your restraining order.

  5. Eight Rooks says:

    Cautiously optimistic for this. I liked Remember Me quite a bit, for all its obvious flaws – I bought it full price day one and didn’t feel cheated. I’m expecting some degree of David Cage-isms, but Dontnod showed more grasp of how to tell a decent story in one game than he’s ever done (well, Omikron, Fahrenheit and Heavy Rain, anyway; never played Beyond). If they can build on Remember Me’s deeper, more subtle themes and keep some of that stunning production design I’ll happily put up with a dash of melodrama and sci-fi craziness too.

    • heretic says:

      I spent pretty much the whole of Remember Me pressing the walk button (why didn’t they just make it a toggle!) the environments were beyond stunning and a joy to walk through

  6. Biggus_Dikkus says:

    There is always a lighthouse

  7. epeternally says:

    I was sold just from the beginning, and then reading that it’s from the same people as (highly underrated) Remember Me doubly sold. Hadn’t heard more than vague mention of this one before, but officially excited.

  8. plugav says:

    I’m impressed. “It’s like Twin Peaks,” the journos say, or “like a Stephen King novel.” If it were me, I’d just climb onto the table and shout: “BUTTERLFY EFFEEECT! THE GAAAME!” link to imdb.com

    But then the film wasn’t all that good, I suppose.

    Anyway, I’m interested to see how it turns out.

    • Matt_W says:

      It was interesting to watch the Director’s Cut of The Butterfly Effect and contrast it with the theatrical release. The director’s cut was much darker, more consistent with its conceit, and had a real kick of an ending. It was a far better movie than theater-goers saw. it’s unfortunate that the studio marketed the movie as a sort of curio sci-fi romance (with Staind’s melancholy It’s Been Awhile in the background of the trailer.) It should have been marketed as straight psychological horror, which is what the director’s cut ended up being; I think it could have been a classic cult film.

  9. RARARA says:

    Hmmm, I’ll keep an eye on this…

  10. skyturnedred says:

    I thought Remember Me was pretty good, despite the obvious flaws in combat. The time-rewind-puzzle-thingie was criminally underused.

  11. mukuste says:

    The header picture for this post made me think of Blue Is The Warmest Color, but I guess that was not an influence then…

    Still, sounds intriguing. Will keep an eye on it.

  12. Jamesworkshop says:

    To be fair the power to rewind time, would have been pretty helpful in Gone Home.

  13. HiFiHair says:

    I think that’s a lovely trailer. Really very excited for this.

  14. nindustrial says:

    Not to burst the pun bubble too hard, but Oregon does not rhyme with Gone (i.e., it’s not pronounced Or-a-gone). Just a friendly local tip!

  15. Umberto Bongo says:

    Jangly pop straight from Starbucks Download of the Week
    Naive line drawings of butterflies and polaroid cameras
    ‘quirky’ hand drawn tumblr-tier font complete with hazy orange filters

    Just need Zooey Deschanel to pop up and the insufferable forced indie kookiness is complete.

  16. Rae says:

    I’m very curious as this setting seems more in-line with my personal preferences than say zombies.

    Also, what was the song playing?

  17. iloveyouprismo says:

    This game looks really good I am excited for it. If anyone wants to play something similar to how this sounds (albeit minus the rewind), you should check out episode 1 of Dreamfall Chapters. I don’t think you need to play the previous Dreamfall games but it certainly makes it even better.

    I love games like this and having a different spin from Telltale’s formula is good to mix it up.

  18. Tompuce84 says:

    Hi everyone, I don’t wanna shit on anyone’s parade but given SquareEnix lack of general taste and subtlety in the field of story telling, I’ve got my doubt that this is gonna be any good. I played “Remember Me” and was NOT convinced.

    But, hey this is only me and I hope it’ll be good really!

  19. AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

    I remember thinking that Remember Me would be better if it was just the memory remix scenes, and they had real amplitude instead of just being “choose the thing you need to change to muderize this guy!” Maybe… maybe future me went back in time to create the game I wanted to play.

  20. Deviija says:

    I loved Remember Me. There are shortcomings and little aspects I didn’t like or wanted to be polished in other ways, but altogether it was completely worth the day one price point I bought it for. Plus, Nilin is one of my favorite protagonists. Dontnod’s environments in the game were incredibly stunning. So, all in all, I have been looking forward to this game — Life is Strange — since it was announced. Really excited for it and more women as protagonists.