Life is Strange: episode 1

I really don’t know what to say about Life is strange except that it represents what it aims to well enough for me to start imagining my own odd duck High school story. One involving a lot of finding oneself, struggling with self-image and dealing with the usual pressures and problems.

There are inconsistencies with this story if you look closely, the kind of inconsistencies that would never be part of the usual life. It is one overruled with a constant state of drama that, while is always a part of high school life has been sped up for the state of the story. It’s also the kind of characters and story where, I think they’ve more got their influence from the many tv series rather than having that lived experience to draw from. Now the team there at Dontnod Entertainment is mostly male, so that’s kind of expected but I still want to give them kudos there for even trying and still creating some interesting and endearing characters.

LifeIsStrange

The lived experience of the environment is a true strength of Life is strange as they really take the time to create a believable space for the game to take place in. The layout and design, the little details of posters and graffiti on wall. I just love many of the dormitory rooms, and living spaces as  they just exude so much character. Just seeing these spaces gives you a far better insight into the personality of the characters you engage with and represent. It is a far more natural way of portraying this information too rather than giving some heavy exposition, that never seems enough anyway.

LifeIsStrange

So far the mechanics are extremely well done and polished as well. The time travel mechanic for completing events and playing with the options of an event are rather simplistic but the way you actually explore the world for information and clues is both intuitive yet not intrusive enough to remove that sense of immersion. They are easy to see, to interact with and give information enough for you to know where and what to do to an extent. They way you move around and use these is so much more natural as well, the animations work and are fluid and far less restrictive than the Telltale games. You can just tell they understand adventure game design, the flaws and features and have worked around this to create a game that is a pleasure to actually play for once.

LifeIsStrange

I kind of like the visuals as well. They are incredibly stylised with relatively low poly models and washed out textures but with the colourful design and the way they often use this to direct the player and to focus on aspects of the environment work really well. There are moments as well where the design, the colours and the atmosphere of the space truly create some memorable moments.

LifeIsStrange

I have to say that I really enjoy this first episode. Now it doesn’t have the in-depth character analysis style play, and maybe not as strong with the wealth and interconnected nature of the smaller stories that you might expect from these indie game, coming of age stories but then this feels far more like a game. A game with a strong narrative, interesting mechanics and a very well designed world.

Darkest Dungeon Preview

Do you like to constantly explore the random nature of a deep, claustrophobic and disturbing underground dungeon?

Do you like watching your team die in horrible, soul crushing ways. To be lost in the depths of madness?

Do you enjoy the constant state of tension from living on the brink of despair. A single moment away from losing it all?

Well Darkest Dungeon might be the game for you.

If you don’t like those things well, you probably will after delving into the darkest dungeon and seeing the depth and strategy within.

Darkest dungeon reminds me of playing pen and paper games, but with a sadistic dungeon master that delights in throwing the absolute worse scenarios at you to watch you fail. At first you mind is awash with this failure and the scenario becomes a routine kind of death march. You welcome the death and an absolute ending. But after coming to terms with it you begin to grow. You learn the systems and how to gain them. Your mind starts working with purpose and strategy, constantly enacting best possible plans for success. You are also the ever removed leader in this position, you learn from your errors and accept your loses but make them count.

That is the core of the experience within Darkest Dungeon. Depressing but also Rewarding.

As for the actual Mechanics it involves the control of a team of adventurers  after glory and fame.. or whatever else really. It is this individuals you basically use as a tool to cleanse the depths below your family’s estate.

There are a number of adventurer classes you’ll get to choose from following the tank, damage, support archetype although each have a certain take on that. You end up balancing this too for maximum impact, enough heals and control skills to minimize harm and then the big damage skills to finish the job.

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Of course that’s how it should work but remember, sadistic dungeon master who likes throwing the absolute worse things at you imaginable. You will fail… often. People will die… often. The entire dungeon exploration experience is just trying to minimize this damage and working with it when you can. Health will drop, traps will snare and those little items you can’t help touch will continue to add their psychological toll on your characters.

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Their will be dungeons where everyone just cracks from the pressure and it becomes a hilarious account of constant abuse and paranoia. The damage from which often can’t even be healed before the next time they entire the next abusive encounter.

Through all this though is an element of growth. Your characters grow in experience and skills. Traits continue with them both bad and good and the estate grows as well giving further benefits to these adventurers. You continue to take down bosses and explore harder spaces that reward far more, but take their toll as well.It is a meagre existence even in that state but one you worked towards and be proud you accomplished it.

darkest dungeon

hmm… basically it’s the 2d party based version of Dark Souls.

Now it is in early access, like just about every other game I seem to be playing at the moment but it is remarkably polished in this state with a lot of the depth already developed and put in place. All that seems to be left is adding encounters, diversity to these and the two locked areas before I would call it complete.

Definitely worth a purchase in my mind.