Life Is Strange Episode 1 Going Free Tomorrow

The full first episode of Life Is Strange [official site] will tomorrow be set free forever. We’ve written a lot about one of our favourite games of 2015, about individual episodes as they each came out and giving them the Fail Forward and Cogwatch treatments and… it’s weird to be thinking about Episode 1 again. Now knowing where Life Is Strange was going and what it would become, I want to add disclaimers like “Look, Episode 1 is awkward but it really does find itself, okay.” I’m weirdly protective.

Let’s briefly rewind. Life Is Strange is an episodic adventure game in the Telltale-ish style, made by Remember Me devs Dontnod Entertainment. LIS is about a teenager at an art school in Oregon who suddenly and unexpectedly gains time travel powers. Joining up with her childhood best friend, they try to solve mysteries ranging from a missing friend to the glimpsed future in which a tornado destroys their town. They investigate, they get into trouble, they rekindle their friendship, ahhh it’s all very nice. A teen melodrama with time travel.

Square Enix previously released a demo with the very start of the first episode but this will be the whole thing. Presumably the rest of the season will be discounted to make up for a fifth going free.

Looking at the stats now, there’s a 47/53 split on the final episode’s big final decision. For a choose ’em up adventure game, a balance like that is mighty impressive – especially given my conviction that the other 47% are massively wrong. It comes to feel personal, this.

Here’s a wee new trailer introducing Life Is Strange:

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28 Comments

  1. Zanchito says:

    Shareware is back! Oh, how I’ve missed you.

    • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

      Ah yes, just trying to recall now how many times I played the first level of Duke Nukem 3D.

    • Booker says:

      You just can’t make people happy. You could just as well see this as a demo – a thing people often ask for or are angry about if there isn’t one.

  2. JakeOfRavenclaw says:

    So much has already been written about this game that I don’t know what else I can add, other than to say that I think I cared more about Max than I ever have about a video game protagonist, and that I still think about it months later. It’s a great one. (And yes, the dialogue does improve quite a bit in subsequent episodes as the game finds its feet and becomes more self-aware; although if you totally can’t stand it in the first episode then it may not be for you. This *is* a game about teenagers, after all).

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      HothMonster says:

      After finishing that game for weeks I missed Max and Chloe like they were good friends that moved away. Listening to parts of that soundtrack even still is a kick in the feels.

      I also agree. It does take a bit to find itself.

      • Ragnar says:

        I don’t usually notice video game music unless it’s jarring and out of place, but the music in Life is Strange stood out for being fantastic and really well done. It’s not my style of music, but it fits the setting perfectly, and really sets the tone and character.

        • zacharai says:

          I even bought the Syd Matters album that some of the music is from.

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          HothMonster says:

          Agreed. It is mostly bands I was aware of but not a fan of, or bands I wasn’t aware of an am still not a fan of. But it all worked really well in the game. I can’t think of a better use of licensed music in a game.

    • Ragnar says:

      Agreed, I loved the game, it was my favorite of the year. It also left me an emotional wreck for a couple weeks. The most I’ve cared about video games characters since Planescape Torment.

  3. supercakman says:

    Now EVERYONE can check out that hella cringeworthy dialogue!

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      Grizzly says:

      Cringeworthy dialogue was like, half my teenage years.

    • Booker says:

      Never really shared this criticism. It’s a game about “lame” teenagers and that’s how they sound. Somehow everyone convinced themselves, that they were superhot moviestars you only see in blockbusters and who only ever spoke dialogs written by oscar-winning geniuses. It’s absurd.

      Trying to be cool and being cool aren’t the same things.

  4. VidarP says:

    Great game, hope more is coming.

  5. dsch says:

    I just finished it a few days ago after the Steam sale. The first episode is the most beautiful of them, even though the later ones are more recognisably gamey. Partly this was because the story was never going to be able to live up to the expectations set at the beginning; the conventions of popular narrative are not suited for its theme.

  6. NetharSpinos says:

    I finished Life Is Strange last week. Am I strange for saying that I didn’t care for Chloe at all?
    I kept trying to steer Max down the right path, alas, to no avail…

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      HothMonster says:

      I sympathized with her but she was extremely selfish, reckless and stupid. I think she redeemed herself at the end though.

    • Faxmachinen says:

      No, several people have mentioned it. Her abrasiveness is a very deliberate character design, and one you don’t see very often in games. I applaud the effort, but the latter half of the game a bit off-putting if you weren’t persuaded to like her despite her flaws.

      I love her though.

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    InfamousPotato says:

    This game… it brought up a lot of stuff that’s been going on in the last four- no, more than four- years for me. It made me reflect on what I’ve done, who I am, and where I’m (not) going. It also made me care in a way that few games can. After I finished it, I was depressed. I didn’t feel like doing anything at all. I tried writing about it, but not much came of that. For the next two days… everything felt off. I wanted to join in the discussion of its aftermath, but it was too late. Most of us had moved on by the time I decided to play.

    Being part of the 47%, I’d have to agree with you, Alice. We made the wrong choice (though to go back and change it somehow feels wrong- disrespectful- I dunno).

    This doesn’t sound like a recommendation at all, but it is. Life is Strange is one of the best games I’ve ever played. I’ve spent 448 hours playing Skyrim, but none of those hours compares to even one of the 17 hours I spent in Life is Strange. DONTNOD did something extraordinary, something that I’ve never seen captured before in a video game.

    I want to return to the game, but I don’t know when I can (or will). To go back now, so soon… like I said, it would feel almost disrespectful to return just yet. The choices I made in that game, regardless of how much they affected the outcome, mattered, and rewinding irl too soon would feel as if I was discarding those choices and the reasons I made them (even if afterward I felt I made the wrong choice). A week after I finished the game, I ordered the special edition from Amazon. I might not be able to play the game again yet… but for now, I just want to listen to that soundtrack (and hope that by buying it the devs get just a tiny bit more money for their hard work).

    Also, as for “Let’s briefly rewind”, we see what you did there Alice. :)

    • Faxmachinen says:

      The one thing the game taught me was that nothing good comes from regret. I’m in the 47%, and I wouldn’t change it if I could.

      Totally agreed on it feeling wrong to go back and change it, even just to see the other ending. LiS respects my choices by making them matter, so I feel obligated to respect the consequences in return.

    • Unclepauly says:

      The post went full potato.

  8. pringles says:

    Bought the whole lot earlier today.. Imo the best way to get most out of the game is to try to roleplaying as Max, as in, make the choices that Max would make. As opposed to making one’s own choices. There are many points where I would make a choice not available to me.

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    DrollRemark says:

    I spent several minutes at the end of Life is Strange, with the game patiently waiting for me to make that final decision, thinking “No, this isn’t fair. You can’t make me chose like this. No.”

    No other game has ever had that much of an emotional impact on me as this did. Yes the dialogue is corny. Yes there are many sections of gameplay that just feel slightly awkward. Yes a lot of the characters seem to be pretty standard shallow tropes. But man, do they still manage to make you care.

    • SlimShanks says:

      I always knew I would love this game, right from the first trailer. Just finished the first episode and am finding it tremendous. I feel strangely protective of the main characters.
      The ending of Deus Ex Human Revolution left me in a similar conundrum to the one you described… except that it took me 45 minutes to make a decision, both times I finished it.

  10. Frank says:

    I remember getting into the game because the first episode was free, and after playing it I bought the season immediately… guess that was a limited-time thing.

  11. RimeOfTheMentalTraveller says:

    It is also a tremendous game for focusing on a mostly female cast, and a teenaged one at that, while tackling themes that are just plain absent in the vast majority of videogames. Especially suicide and sexual assault. I’ve read people saying it feels like cheap shots for shock value, but I think the gravity of them was conveyed really well.

    SPOILERS MOTHERFUCKER!!!!
    I failed to save Kate, precisely because of what she said on the rooftop, namely people not caring about her. I had gone through her room and seen both Bible quotes, but I just didn’t think they’d be important. Which should be just my fault, but it felt like it was Max’s too because of my decision. In the end, all the powers and persuasion don’t matter if there’s that lack of attention to another person’s feelings. I chose the wrong option, she died. It hit me like a steam piston in the stomach. I teared up a bit which blew over into full-on ugly silent sobbing in the ending when Mt. Washington started playing and they showed her memorial.

    And this also greatly affected my choice at the end, because after all the shit we’d gone through, what Chloe said there about being ready to die and being a fuck-up reminded me of Kate’s last words. I actually knew about the choice beforehand due to spoiling myself, and had all the time thought I would be saving the town, but I couldn’t bring myself to leave her. Especially as I had unwittingly chosen almost every choice which supported her. And I also loved the whole thing blossoming into a love story.
    But it was not an easy choice, I still teared up at the ending, part of it happiness, part of it grief for all those small sketches of human characters in the town. And I also felt the ending went more with the themes of the story, Max couldn’t know whether if she chose to go back it would be successful. And like the title card of the greatest anime says, ‘You’re gonna carry that weight’. This is their growing up. They may stay together, they may not, the latter often happens with shared trauma. But the ending is also optimistic that obstacles can be foreseen and overcome. And that’s why I love it.
    END SPOILERS!!!!

    Sorry for the unfocused rant, it’s just I played it 2 weeks ago and it’s still in my mind since I’ve had no one to talk to about it. I think I’ll order the Limited Edition, though I’m not sure when or even if I’ll ever be able to replay it with the other ending.

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      Aitrus says:

      Good thoughts, thanks for sharing. I too thought the game took the issues it was presenting very seriously. The lead designers talked about their approach at the Game Developers Conference, which you can watch here if you’re interested – link to gdcvault.com

  12. Vurogj says:

    It’s been a few months now, and time has given me the chance to see the game’s flaws. It has quite a few, but it is still, by a country mile, the best game I’ve ever played.