Life is Strange
There are a great many changes occurring in the world of gaming, driven by many factors including esports, gender equality and also, I believe, age. The original gaming generations are getting older now and their expectations are changing, evolving and adapting the new trends whilst also being the driving force for change. The typically male dominated domain of the first person shooter no longer satisfies all needs as the gamer base diversifies. Women have entered the arena and it is starting to show as we see more strong female lead characters and people begin to discuss the long standing objectification of women in games. We have a long way to go, but we are going.
Enter Life is Strange, one of a new generation of games that is catering to an even wider audience, those driven by a desire for a story. Imagine reading Game of Thrones whilst having the visuals of a game alongside it and the ability to actually influence the outcome of the story. This takes is beyond the game and into an experience, for we engage the content and become a living part of its complexity.
With no rush to experience end game content, no drive to unlock skins or other items we are left with just our experience of the story. There are no levels, there are moments - key events in the experience that you get to influence, to shape and mould around your choices. The smallest of decisions can and does impact the entire future, a deep level of realism for a game that graphics and gameplay alone cannot provide.
Life is Strange introduces an interesting mechanic into this element of choice, the ability to rewind time. Conversations and their outcomes can be altered and different approaches to an issue can be explored but don't be fooled, this is not an easy cheat feature. You won't know the effect of your choices until it is far too late to rewind time. This quirky take on manipulating choice is something developers DontNod have approached before with the manipulation of memories in Remember Me.
Sometimes I gauge the value of a game on a £/he of gameplay time. Was the time spent worth the money paid but games such as this require you to factor in emotion. Was the experience and the way it made you feel worth it. Another game of this type was Fullbrights Gone Home, a short offering that took me approximately four hours to play through and so from a monetary standpoint it wasn't worth it. The game however left me feeling nostalgic, emotional and very much keen for more and that was worth every penny.
We have to ask ourselves that do we still call these offerings a game? Are you playing or does the experience make it something different? The episodic release schedule has the feel of a TV program with adequate cliffhangers to keep you wanting more. However you decide to look at and approach these games I think it is safe to say that a new genre has emerged and has been welcomed by many open arms.