I started playing Life is Strange. I’d watched a play through of the first and second episode like a year before, and I’ve been wanting to get my hands on it every since so, last night, I took the plunge and bought if off of Steam. I’ve got to say, I’m really enjoying it right now.
Watching the playthroughs, it was always so frustrating not being able to whisper into the commentary’s ear what to do. Playing it is so different because I’m finally making the choices that I think will progress the story and effect the characters in a unique way. I think that’s the main thing that makes storytelling in choice driven games so different. A friend of mine recently wrote an interesting article about this issue of choice and narrative. In it she writes,
“the point of dialogue choices are to try and understand what the character’s
motivations are, and then to play them accurately….Character development and empathy for the protagonist make us care about changes in story value. This isn’t “meaningful choice” as defined earlier but it is storytelling, and strong storytelling at that.“
You can read the full article here, and you should because it really makes your rethink how player choice can and should impact narrative.
In Life is Strange for instance, the way time travel works might not be conventionally considered as “meaningful choice”, but it is used as a compelling narrative tool to add another dimension to player choice.
(I’m looking at you Squall)
Where in more old school games, you might save and turn off your console (sorry I’m a console gamer at heart) and start up the save again, in Life is Strange you don’t have to and its presenting itself as a really unique and interesting method of storytelling.
It really makes the act of decision making much more poignant to the player, because not only must you make a choice, but after rewinding time and seeing the potential outcome that choice has, you have to decide how you want the scene to play out and stick with it–and that’s the hardest choice to make after all.
Playing through the first episode, I wasn’t as focused on changing the story as I was in changing how Max developed. In fact, that’s why I found myself enjoying the smaller conversations with different characters so much. I loved being able to change Max’s relationship with them based off dialogue responses. I loved watching the interaction unfold and rewinding, and responding to them. Oh, and don’t get me started about the soundtrack and the art and directing. It’s stunning, haunting and gripping. I just had to say that before I signed off.
I’m looking forward to having my characters, and my relationships change and develop over time.
Life is Strange Episode 1 gets four golden ponyboys.