Games

Review of Life is Strange

Put simply, ‘Life is Strange’ is one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had. The level at which I connected with the characters, even from early on, was palpable. I put my headphones on, turned off the light, and got lost into the small coastal town of Arcadia Bay.

Like with Until Dawn, ‘Life is Strange’ is a game driven by your choices and the consequences that come as a result. Except where Until Dawn was focused around which characters would get brutally ripped apart, this game gets deeper into the relationships between its myriad of interesting people. Not only that, but you can even go back to make a different decision if you change you mind. This idea is a fundamental part of the game.

Life is Strange

You play the game as Max Caulfield: a photography student who recently arrived back to her home town to attend Blackwell Academy. After one of her routine classes, she witnesses a horrific incident in the girl’s toilets This incident shocks her into discovering a special ability she has – the ability to rewind time.

The mechanic of rewinding time is really well integrated into the game and is actually really fun to keep going back and making different decisions to affect immediate outcomes. Of course many decisions will have long tail affects which you wont actually see the result of until much later on.

As the game progresses Max learns more about what her powers allow her to do and the effects that her time jumping actually has – sometimes to tear-inducing effect.

Her powers give herself and her best friend, Chloe, a unique advantage as they begin to dig into the dark underbelly of Arcadia Bay and into the disappearance of local girl Rachel Amber.

Chloes Bedroom in Life is Strange
Chloe and Max in Chloes Bedroom (Life is Strange)

A game of episodes

When I first heard about games being created as episodes my immediate thought was that it was a con; getting people to pay more money for what amounts to a single game. However, not only are each of these five episodes well-priced, but the way the story flows, you really do need a breather after each episode’s climax.

It’s hard to believe that breaking Life is Strange up into five episodes was because of budgetary constraints – the story benefits from this format and gives the player a natural place to take a break from the story.

Have tissues at the ready

You know that feeling of having a frog in your throat when you experience a really emotional scene in a film? Like the end of ‘Titanic’ or the bus singalong to Tiny Dancer in ‘Almost Famous’? Well this game has moments like that in spades. There is one climax in particular – the end of ‘Episode 3: Chaos Theory’ that choked me up more than in any other game I’ve played. Obviously I can’t go into the scene itself but you’ll know what I mean when you see it.

BFFs

The relationship between the two main protagonists, Max and Chloe, is handled beautifully. You are given decisions to make throughout the game, many of which are tied to Max and Chloe’s friendship. When I was forced to make some – often really hard – decisions with them, I found myself becoming more invested in that friendship, like I actually was Max.

Take your time and explore

Nathan points a gun
Nathan points a gun

This is not a game that you should want to rush through just so you can say you’ve completed it. You will be so thankful to take your time and experience Arcadia Bay in full. There are moments in the game where you can just lie or sit down, allowing you to chill. During these moments Max will think out loud about what she’s just seen and what she’s going through. You can even sit Max down and have her play her guitar for as long as you want. You can truly get lost in this world.

Go Otters!

I encourage you all to play this game. At least play the first episode, which is now free on Steam and PS4. I guarantee that once you play the first episode you’ll be bulk buying the other four immediately.

Films

Terminator 2 Re-release in 3D

When I was eight years old Terminator 2: Judgement Day was released at the cinema. I remember it vividly. Not because of my going to see it, but because of the evening my parents dropped me off at my Nan’s house whilst they went to watch it.

Now, Twenty Six years later, I finally had the opportunity to see it on the big screen myself.

I was initially skeptical

When the announcement was made about the retro fitting of 3D for its re-release I was disappointed. I’ve never been much of a fan of 3D cinema and simply wanted to see this film as it was originally. I grew up watching this all the time; memorised all the lines; and even played out the scenes with friends in junior school. I was obsessed to say the least. This is one of my favourite films, if not my actual favourite film, and was worried it would somehow tarnish my love of it.

However, if this was to be my first chance to see Terminator 2 on the big screen I was gonna take it.

I was not disappointed

As soon as the film began I was immediately blown away. The Terminator’s skull coming out of the fire at the end of the opening credits was so spectacular-looking and was completely terrifying. The moment had finally came – I was about to see Terminator 2 on the big screen.

All throughout the film I found myself noticing more of the background details, probably through a conscious effort to absorb the full 3D effect. Even in the T-1000’s arrival, I would be noticing all of the wrecked cars and debris in the underpass. I got even more wrapped up in this world than I had previously done.

Everything I loved about this film was magnified up on the screen.

The Special Effects still hold up today

Twenty six years after this film released, then ahead of it’s time, the special effects still hold up strongly. The highway chase between the police van and helicopter still looked great – greatly due to the fact it was all filmed for real. No C.G. shots back then, kids. Even the nightmare hydrogen bomb scene, even more horrifying at a huge size, still had all the power of its first outing. In fact I couldn’t help get more of an emotional connection to this in the light of recent threats and actions in the news by certain heads of state douche bags.

Thank you, Jim

A big thanks to James Cameron and all of the people who went into making this re-release a reality. Let’s hope there’s enough interest to warrant the possibly-next-planned remaster, Aliens.

Journal

Tomorrow night is Terminator 2 night

Tomorrow night I finally get to see one of my favourite, if not my actual favourite, film of all time – Terminator 2: Judgement Day. My only initial concern / worry is that it’s being released in 3D.

I don’t like to be a hater for the sake of hating, but I’m always sceptical about films shown in 3D. Maybe I’ve just had bad experiences but the only film I remember being impressed by was Tron: Legacy. Avatar was an enjoyable film but the 3D gave me a headache. Maybe I was just ill anyway.

So I’m really looking forward to seeing T2 on the big screen – 3D or however – after having had it as the most memorable film of my growing up. I remember it coming out in 1991 – I was 8 – and my parents dropping me off at my Nan’s while they went to watch it on release. It feels like life has come full circle somewhat, now that I get to watch it up there.

I’ll write up my complete thoughts on the experience once I’ve seen it. I may even go for a double bill with War for the Planet of the Apes afterwords.

TV

Twin Peaks is the best show on TV right now

No TV show goes to places in the way that Twin Peaks does, or indeed even did when its first series aired.

I’m not talking about level of graphic violence or any sort of shock factor; I’m talking sheer originality. Twin Peaks always has been, and always will be, completely original. From the unique collaboration of David Lynch and Mark Frost, this series has such a depth of story, location, and character that it is a place I’d love to live in real life – even when it’s completely terrifying.

When people keep talking about the default shows – namely Game of Thrones at the time of writing, I can’t help but roll my eyes a little. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I really like Game of Thrones, but nothing gets under my skin quite like Twin Peaks does. I try to describe it in a way to get other people into it too. I find it hard to put into words but I try. It’s like that feeling of butterflies in your stomach when there’s a huge moment of realisation or connection between characters and / or events. Of course many other series have those reveals, but I honestly don’t think any other show does it in quite the same way.

Anyone who has seen some of David Lynch’s films should know what I mean about his unique style. He has a certain vision and confidence in that vision to bring truly unique stories, visuals and sounds to the screen. This is no different in the new series of Twin Peaks. If anything his years of cinema between the original series and now, have in the very least strengthened his confidence in his vision.

Twin Peaks has evolved into 100% unfiltered David Lynch, based on the ideas of both Lynch and Frost, and I fucking love it.

Journal

I would miss SoundCloud

I’ve just been reading about how a decision today could potentially lead to the end of SoundCloud. The company has just been saved by a couple of investors but still may be gone very soon.

I’ve discovered some great artists through SoundCloud and will be somewhat saddened if / when it does indeed die.

It also makes me think whether or not I could create a similar service to take it’s place. I know there is Spotify and Google Play et al, but those just don’t seem to me to have the same heart as SoundCloud.

Journal

Taking my blog too serious

I’m finding I’m taking my blog way too seriously. Instead of just writing; checking; and publishing, I’m leaving posts in draft worried they are not professional enough.

This is stupid.

This website is for me and me alone. I’m currently writing (have written) a long post about my experience with playing Life is Strange and I’m too busy trying to make it sound like a professional review to actually publish it.

From a couple of podcasts I’ve listened to recently I have found this is a common issue for bloggers.

I’m going to do my very best to not censor or judge myself too much. Instead I’m gonna do my very best to just get writing every single day.

In this spirit I’m not going to proof read this post – instead I’m just gonna press publish…

…now.

Journal

Tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones, Episode 4 of Season 7 – The Spoils of War, reminded me why I love the series. Just when I thought I’d guessed the outcome, I was wrong.

Journal

There’s an electricity in the air today; thunder and lightning and a quick downpour has recharged the air outside. I often prefer the weather like this when at home – there’s something about being indoors when outside is like that.

Of course a lot of people have no choice but to be out in that sort of weather. Please consider donating to Homeless Link today.

p.s. This post started off as just a quick personal note; a status update. However, in the course of writing those two paragraphs it made me think of other things. This in turn led to my seeking out, discovering and linking to Homeless Link. If nothing else, this has confirmed that I really should be writing every day – for myself; not just for any potential readers.

And if I can help others along the way then that’s an added bonus.