Life is Strange: Episode 1 - Chrysalis (iOS) Review

By Josh Di Falco 06.01.2018

Review for Life is Strange: Episode 1 - Chrysalis on iOS

With the overwhelming success that Dontnod Entertainment's visual episodic adventure had on consoles and Steam back in 2015, it was a only a matter of time before it would make its way down to the casual gamers market: the iOS store. Life is Strange: Episode 1 - Chrysalis begins the tale of Max Caulfield, and her mysterious power that acts as a curse at times. It brings with it visions of an oncoming storm and plenty of headaches, as Black Wing Foundation's port doesn't make the jump to touch-screen as smoothly as it could have been. However, through the awkward movements, is a coming-of-age story where great power does bring great responsibility, albeit with strange and uneventful consequences.

Chrysalis begins the first tale in the visual novel, episodic adventure series. Max Caulfield is just an ordinary girl making her way through school, with big dreams of being a photographer ahead of her. On a day like any other, she witnesses the school's most protected student - Nathan Prescott - shoot a girl in the women's bathroom. It is at this moment that Max accidentally rewinds time, and manages to prevent the same incident from occurring, thus saving the girl's life. This is the pivotal moment that brings about a strange new game mechanic upon, which the rest of the Life is Strange journey relies heavily on.

Unlike those stories found in the Telltale gaming sphere, Life is Strange is more akin to an open-world style, with interconnected spaces that each feel like a large space full of environmental interactions and other characters to speak to. Max's movement is inputted with that of a finger, so tapping across the touch screen will signify a place for her to walk to. While this works well most of the time, sometimes the adventure requires precision tapping in order to investigate certain interactions. Unfortunately, it is during these moments the touch controls become quickly annoying, as Max will sometimes try to walk around the person that was originally selected to talk to, or Max will find herself stuck in a chest of drawers that she was meant to have opened, instead of walking on. The misdirection easily disrupts the flow of the story, and breaks the "realism" that Life is Strange is otherwise trying to convey.

Screenshot for Life is Strange: Episode 1 - Chrysalis on iOS

The time-rewind mechanic is what makes this journey so unique. When various decision-making moments come along, Max can safely select options and witness the immediate consequences of the decisions. Then she can rewind the time in order to select one of the other decisions to help give her a well-informed choice moving forward. She could alternatively gauge information from a character during a conversation, and then rewind the time in order to use that information to select new dialogue options. This rewind mechanic is a fascinating tool to play around with, and it can yield some surprising results, and is easy to figure out. Of course, it cannot be abused as much, due to the short time-distance that it can venture into the past. While conversations and recent decisions can be unmade, there is still a limit to how far back Max can travel, which is to be expected.

The main cast performs admirably well; Max is the shy but creatively ambitious girl, while Chloe is the eccentric and "rebel-without-a-cause" friend whose voice actor pulls off her character extremely well. Chloe is definitely the more enjoyable of the two main roles. Mr. Jefferson, Nathan, and Victoria Chase are also well voiced, and even the various students themselves help make this world feel very much alive, instead of static like other games do. Each of these elements come together to create a shared world that exists when Max isn't around, as opposed to those games where everyone is waiting for the main character's input before reacting.

Unfortunately, the game can sometimes crash on iPad or even mobile phones. Life is Strange is a pretty powerful game, and it requires the most up-to-date software on devices in order to get the most out of the app. However, even still, the frame-rate does slow down at times, and the cut-scenes suffer from stuttering issues, while the app sometimes even crashes completely. There is a long sequence of cut-scenes that plays out, for instance, that caused the game to crash during review, and upon rebooting, the same sequence of scenes had to replayed due to not reaching the checkpoint.

Screenshot for Life is Strange: Episode 1 - Chrysalis on iOS

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Life is Strange: Episode 1 - Chrysalis is a great episode that sets up the high school world quite well and makes it a believable setting. While the story does proceed to get a little slow after the introduction of the time-rewind mechanic, it is necessary for the build-up to set the stage for the series going forward. It sets an intriguing premise that promises an epic finale centring around the mysterious storm that only Max knows is going to hit the small town of Arcadia Bay. While the app isn't perfect, and suffers from momentary lag, or crash issues, coupled with the sometimes clumsy control input that mixes up interactional finger taps with movement taps, this is still a great game to check out for newcomers who don't own the mainline consoles.

Developer

Black Wing Foundation

Publisher

Square Enix

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 Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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