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The personal Classic – July / August: Animal Crossing – Life is Strange (2015)

Wednesday, 1. July, 2020
Presented by Konstantin Wach

I never cared much for a videogame‘s storyline. To me it was a necessary red thread connecting shooting sequences, a frame for interesting game mechanics or challenges. Accordingly, I was sceptical in the beginnings of 2010 when a new kind of adventure game gained popularity. The gameplay of such videogames consisted of little more than dialogues and occassionally selecting one of a defined handful of actions. ”Adventures are even deprived of their puzzles now?“, I thought.

My blissful ignorance lasted until November 2015, when I had a great amount of boredom and unused credit on my steam account. While browsing the shop my attention was caught by Life is Strange. I already knew from the press that the game had received good reviews. I risked buying the game which is divided into five parts like a TV show. One day later I finished Life is Strange, with my eyes filled with tears.

First and foremost, this game is a wonderful narrative experience. I couldn‘t imagine that a videogame could compete with TV shows and movies in this field, but Life is Strange does exactly that. The tense atmosphere immediately captivated me. A large part of it is due to the fabulous soundtrack. The songs always match the settings and the character‘s mood perfectly, also powerfully underlining turning points during the story. Until today the soundtrack is an essential part of my MP3 playlist.

Although sometimes a bit corny, the characters are always lovingly described. While the story unfolds they develop their depth and avoid the usual cliché traps. I also enjoyed talking to side characters. I don‘t want to give away much of the story. This at first glance coming of age story is quickly turned upside down and full of surprises until the very end. The developers of Dontnod Enterntainment make use of movies and shows like Donnie Darko or Twin Peaks, always remixing those influences in a creative and gripping style.

Not all pieces of the Life is Strange jigsaw are perfect. The graphics were already out of date during its release and especially in dramatic moments the stiff facial animations become apparent. It is also noticeable that some dialogues were written by grown-up men trying to relate to ”the youth of today“. But all together, the single pieces reveal something imperfect yet lovable. Life is Strange will always have a place in my heart, because it made me feel like no other game before and introduced me to a new dimension of gaming.
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