Whenever a new batch of consoles shows up, we can always be sure that certain games from the last several years will get remasters. Typically, this means people on consoles get access to the games at much higher resolutions and framerates. For PC players, it can depend. We may see both good and bad changes to textures, geometry, and lighting without much to really entice owners of the originals. Life is Strange Remastered Collection is guilty of all of this, plus the former game has a couple of bugs I’ve already noticed. These are both great games, but is Life is Strange Remastered Collection worth it on PC?
If you’ve never played any games in the series, the first entry, Life is Strange is the story of a high school student named Max who returns to the town of Arcadia Bay, Oregon after having lived in Seattle for a few years. One day in class, she has a dream about an enormous storm tearing the town apart, before waking up and witnessing a murder in a nearby restroom. Immediately after, Max realizes that she can rewind time. What’s more, she believes that her visions of the storm are prophetic, so it’s up to her to use her powers to fight back against fate.
The second game included in Life is Strange Remastered Collection is Life is Strange: Before the Storm, a prequel focusing on Max’s friend Chloe prior to the events of the original. Before the Storm is shorter, developed by a completely different studio, but is still similarly compelling, even if it lacks much of the supernatural drama that defined the first game. The voice acting and dialogue are also better. Instead of turning back time, Chloe viciously insults people in a way that seems impossible for even the wittiest teenager to do off the top of her head. It’s still remarkably entertaining, however.
Things we lost
Life is Strange Remastered Collection are predominantly of the adventure variety, but they’re like the Telltale Games in that they’re mostly branching dialogue with “choices.” As such, they’re more akin to interactive movies much of the time, which makes purely visual overhauls make more sense. The original Life is Strange has held up strangely in some capacities. The limited facial animations, strangely low-resolution hair, and sparse outdoor areas, however, weren’t exactly cutting edge.
But Life is Strange Remastered Collection supes things up. Many characters have new hair, tweaked faces and models, facial animations are motion captured, textures have mostly been reworked, there’s much more foliage outdoors, and the lighting is better. Or, at least, the lighting is different. Of the two games, the first Life is Strange was definitely more in need of a remaster than its prequel. Of course, not everything is necessarily an improvement. As is usual with these sorts of things, some changes are better than others. But, for the first game at least, I feel that the changes are a marked improvement, making it a better-looking game than it was.
There are some bugs, unfortunately. People are running into issues where Max would bug out while attempting to rewind time. In the second episode, subtitles stopped working correctly for me and instead displayed the name of the scene instead of the dialogue. The original game also had MSAA in addition to FXAA, but that’s not included here, which is rather surprising. Hopefully, some of this will get patched out. For the AA, it’s likely that players will have to use their GPU software for better solutions.
Then there’s the remastered Before the Storm. The prequel was a notably better-looking game than its predecessor at launch, so the remastering work here is less immediate. Fewer textures are replaced, facial animations are untouched, and much remains the same. Still, the game does look different than its original version. Some faces have been changed, either via model adjustments, or just makeup color or amount. Lighting is also quite different, plus you’ll see more vegetation outside. But less has been done here. I wasn’t surprised when I took a look and saw that the remaster of the original was about 42 GB and the remaster for the prequel was 26.
Strangely, Life is Strange Remastered has a VSync option, while Before the Storm Remastered doesn’t. I just went ahead and did it with my GPU software, but this was kind of weird. Aside from visuals, the games are mostly unaltered. There are apparently some changes to the adventure game-esque “puzzles” here and there, but I’m not entirely sure what these entail. Life is Strange Remastered Collection is very much the kind of remaster that we’re used to — again, not much of a surprise. These games aren’t even old.
As for whether Life is Strange Remastered Collection is worth it, that depends. If you haven’t played these games and you like narrative adventures, you should absolutely play both of them, as they’re among the best the genre has to offer. Plus, in some ways, they’re the best-looking versions of the games. Therefore, this collection is certainly better for people who didn’t bother to play them the first time around. Of course, the originals are still available, and many would be just as happy (if not happier) playing those, so it’s hard to say if this is really the best option.
As for people who already have both games on PC, they’re probably not going to want to double-dip. That is, unless they’re really big fans of the first game and want to go through it again with its graphical upgrades. Regardless, there’s a solid 25 hours or so of content here with a lot of endearing characters and compelling writing that is very much worth experiencing. We really need to see how the fanbase reacts once it’s had more time to carefully compare and talk amongst itself.
Seeing what kind of patches the devs offer up will also weigh in on said opinions. One thing that I can say for certain, is that Life is Strange offers the ability to use time-travel powers in some truly mundane ways, and that alone is worth something. You can open a window to stop a bird from killing itself, only to let it into a bedroom. Then you can close the window. There. Here’s your new home, bird. Oh, and you can also die gruesomely during a completely optional game of D&D with two randos on a bench. There are lots of things to love about these games, so give them a shot if you haven’t already.