Feature | MusiCube: Life is Strange (Album Review)

By David Lovato 06.03.2015 2

Now and then a game comes along that proves to be an unmissable experience. Life is Strange by developer Dontnod Entertainment is building itself in that direction - it's too early to tell if the game will live up to the potential it has asserted in Episode 1: Chrysalis, but it's definitely on the right track. Part of that unmissable experience is the atmospheric soundtrack, comprised of licensed indie and folk songs selected by Jonathan Morali, composer on the game.
Image for Feature | MusiCube: Life is Strange (Album Review)

Soon after stepping into the shoes of Life is Strange's protagonist Max Caulfield, players are sure to notice the game's backing soundtrack. Not all of the songs are immediately recognisable, although many fans will note the likes of Bright Eyes and Mogwai. Most of the artists involved are indie or relatively unknown, but their music is no less important to the soundtrack or the game it comes from. These songs are moody, rife with nostalgia, and remembrance of times past, a reflection on someone's current place in the world or all the paths that still lie ahead. One version of the soundtrack opens with "Obstacles" by Jonathan Morali's own band, Syd Matters, which is a perfect aural summary of the melancholic, quirky beauty found throughout Life is Strange. A better way to introduce the soundtrack and game probably doesn't exist. The soundtrack then moves onto the equally quirky, but slightly more upbeat, "Something Good" by alt-J, proving that it isn't going to be one slow, soft ballad after another.

The songs are balanced well, for the most part. There's a spectrum of sound, from soft instrumentals to loud full-band pieces, keeping it from getting too repetitive or emotionally heavy. Themes of self-reflection and memory are present even in the louder and more upbeat tunes, like "Piano Fire" by Sparklehorse and "In My Mind" by Amanda Palmer. Another Syd Matters track, "To All of You," does almost as fine a job representing the game as "Obstacles." A long, somewhat disconnected outro appears at the end of it and feels sort of tacked-on, but it doesn't stick around long enough to wear out its welcome. The YouTube version of the soundtrack closes with "Got Well Soon" by Breton while the Spotify version ends with "The Sense of Me" by Mud Flow. One of the stranger songs, "Got Well Soon" seems out of place compared to the rest of the tracks, and perhaps isn't the best one to close out the soundtrack, although it is a fun and catchy song. "The Sense of Me" is a little more fitting as a closer, but on the whole, the YouTube version of the soundtrack flows better compared to the Spotify one.


 
9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10
Life is Strange is a must-listen for fans of folk music. The original score composed for the game is good, but it's the selection of licensed tracks that cements a feeling of connection to the characters. Players are invited to relate to these songs along with the characters in the game, bringing the two that much closer together, which is important for a game about time and memory. These songs were expertly crafted, expertly chosen, and the soundtrack is held back only by the absence of an official, coherent order.

Box art for Life is Strange: Episode 1 - Chrysalis
Also known as

Life is Strange: Episode 1

Developer

Dontnod Entertainment

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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Comments

I listened to some of the songs on the playlist for the first time yesterday and I agree, it's a great selection of tracks!

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Incredible soundtrack. The use of music made this game just as much as everything else.

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