Life is Strange

689 words.

Steam is having yet another one of those sales, and I saw that a lot of Square Enix games were available cheap. Life is Strange, for example, is available for $5. It’s one of those games that everyone says is fantastic. It also happens that the first episode is available for free, so I thought I’d try it out and see if I wanted to spend the $5 for the entire thing.

Yes, apparently I’ve reached the point in life where I have to wrestle with the decision to spend $5 on a deeply-discounted, universally-acclaimed game.

It’s not that I don’t think it deserves my $5. It’s that I have so many things in my Steam library that I’ve never played and never will play that I don’t want to add anything else unless I’m absolutely, positively 100% sure that I will play it not just maybe possibly someday but right now, on the day of purchase, with excitement and anticipation.

So I started up the free Episode 1, which is titled Chrysalis.

It’s a great adventure game. But I don’t think it’s for me. :)

For one thing, I just don’t understand the world of unrelenting teenaged hipsterism portrayed in this game. I have never seen that world, lived in that world, or even known anyone who has lived in that world. That world does not exist where I live. There is no such thing as a “photography school” anywhere near me, or if there is, it certainly wasn’t ever presented to me as an option. I see some of the cliqueishness of my own high school in the story, but what I see in this game is such a hyper-caricaturization of it that it’s barely even recognizable.

So right off the bat it’s pretty hard for me to connect with this story.

I could perhaps get over that, though. After some time, I would eventually “get used” to the setting. The characterizations seemed good enough to draw me in. But on the gameplay front, the other big problem I had was being completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of interactables in every scene. You could not move one step without seeing ten people, places, or things to click on, each of which had a little story to go with it (narrated by our protagonist).

Most of the interactables appear to be optional. They just fill in more details into the story that aren’t really related to the main plotline (sort of like a commentary track). But I’m trained to click on every one of these things. I simply can’t walk around and not click on all the flashing buttons around me, demanding to be clicked on. It doesn’t help that they are all interesting in their own way.

The end result is that after an hour, I felt like I’d barely even moved from the starting point. It was exhausting. I expected to sit down for a lightweight sitcom, but I ended up trapped in a movie marathon. I’m at a point in my life where I find it really difficult to sit down and watch a whole movie from start to finish, because it feels like an incredible waste of time, except for those incredibly rare cases when a movie is really good. Roughly 99% of the time, I’m doing something else while I’m watching movies and television, trying to keep that time productive in some way. I had that same feeling in Life is Strange. I kept wanting to do other things while I was playing, but since it’s a game, it occupies my entire PC and thus I’m trapped in it.

There is also the fact that Life is Strange is, at it’s heart, a point-and-click adventure game. I don’t think I have ever completed a single game in that genre. Not even the iconic Myst, which I started many times.

So in the end, I feel like I would do a lot better experiencing this game by watching a good Let’s Play video series. Something I could keep running in the background while I work on something else (or played another game hehe).

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