Square Enix have announced Life is Strange, a digitally-distributed narrative-driven episodic adventure. How bizarre.
Life is Strange is being developed by DONTNOD of Remember Me fame, if you remember that, and has senior student Max Caulfield heading back to the lovely Oregon town of Arcadia Bay after five years, in an attempt to uncover the truth behind a friend’s mysterious disappearance.
She’s not alone, though. Not only is she assisted by her old friend Chloe (the blue-haired one), but Max rapidly discovers that she has the ability to rewind time, which is a hell of a thing if you’re investigating a mysterious disappearance. Choice and consequence are a big part of the game, and with the ability to rewind time, it seems plausible that you might just end up altering the course of everything.
The best bits of Remember Me were the weird little mind-hack segments where you had to alter people’s memories (often creating unexpected results), so an entire game about toying with the past seems like a really solid call for that studio. Remember Me missed a bit of a trick when it came to looking at the ethics behind that, though, so let’s hope Life is Strange is better at dealing with any possible moral issues of screwing with the past to make people’s lives better/worse. I also hope that Max’s surname (Caulfield) is a reference to Catcher in the Rye, because I actually liked that book and had many wonderful arguments with an English teacher about whether or not it was shit.
Either way, I’m genuinely intrigued. It’s a solid premise for a game and DONTNOD have some praiseworthy experience with this sort of thing; if they manage to go a step further than Telltale and actually have the game travel down wildly varying courses based on your decisions, they might be onto a bit of a winner. Also, I’m pleased to see that neither Max nor Chloe look like Generic Female Videogame Characters, which is also excellent.
Two screens and two bits of concept art can be investigated below. The first episode of Life is Strange is due out at some unspecified part of the future, unless Square Enix and DONTNOD change the past and I have to rewrite this article.