Life Is Strange, developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Square Enix, has finally made its way to Android and the Google Play Store, officially releasing all five episodes on Wednesday. As expected, the first episode is free, while the full pack comes in at $9. I can’t recommend it enough.
It’s hard to put into words what Life Is Strange means to me. I played through it when it originally released on Steam in 2015, and I loved it to such a degree that it might be my favorite game of all time. It nailed every single aspect of its presentation, and the episodic format worked well for it. The game includes marginalized issues and people, and presents them in a way that I previously never engaged with in video games.
I liked good stories, and I liked caring about the characters in games, but before Life Is Strange, I didn’t fully understand how much I can identify with a character that, on the surface, is so different from myself. The game made me care about every character, every issue, every aspect of the lives of every single person I was able to come into contact with while playing through its five episodes.
The main character is Max Caulfield, a late-teens female photography student who acquires the power to rewind time, and things quickly get out of hand. The game is so complex and interesting that it’s not even really about said main character, and arguably could be considered to be about a character the player never actually speaks to.
There’s a long-lost friend, a missing person, a skeezy drug dealer, a security guard that wants to put up dozens of cameras at their school, a principal with an alcohol problem, a very thirsty kid, a girl who keeps getting hit by flying objects, a group of insufferable mean kids, and so much more.
The world is vibrant and all I want to do is explore it some more. I still feel like I haven’t adequately explained how Life Is Strange made me a better person, but I promise you that it did. It opened my mind up to new lines of thought, new levels of empathy for others and the unshakable belief that I am not alone with my own personal issues. Almost everybody has something they’re struggling with, and while this isn’t exactly the overarching message of Life Is Strange, it’s a lesson I took from it regardless. It’s a game that helped me focus on my own mental health. It’s unique.
Aside from what it means to me personally, Life is Strange tells an interesting story and the time-control mechanics are implemented very well — from literally saving lives, to using it to get the answer to a question correct, to using it to save the aforementioned girl who keeps getting hit by things from … getting hit by things. There are some tough choices to make, and some that aren’t so tough. I cried multiple times while playing.
Visually, the game has a lo-fi art style that I really appreciate, kind of a play on the Telltale style without feeling like it was run through an assembly line to be made. The sound design is incredible, and a chill soundtrack filled with indie rock solidifies the atmosphere in a big way.
Functionally, on Android, I haven’t played much of it thus far, but it seems to work well. The game claims full gamepad support, which is how I played it on PC, but the touch controls allow for three different methods of moving your character (tap to move, virtual joystick, virtual pad). The graphics on my S9+ are noticeably a bit more jaggy and I’ve seen some aliasing, but nothing serious. The graphical differences I’ve observed (in a non-scientific setting) could be attributed to having the phone physically closer to my face. It’s still a beautiful game and, again, it seems to run well.
It’s a shame that Android users have had to wait so long for it. It’s truly a fantastic experience I can’t recommend enough.
The first of five episodes is free on Google Play, but buying the rest will cost $4.99 each (with Episode 2 currently $0.99). You can also buy the whole thing all at once for $8.99, and it’s well-worth it, judging from the little I’ve played of this version and the extensive amount I’ve played on other platforms.
You can peep the trailer below.