Life is Strange Remastered Collection (PC) Review

By Athanasios 27.02.2022

Review for Life is Strange Remastered Collection on PC

In this age or retro madness, many have returned to tried and tested IPs, either with new entries to a franchise, or by republishing of an old title, albeit with a new "skin." Remasters are all the rage nowadays; "hella cool!" as youngsters - probably - say. Now, remasters come in various "flavours." First, there are the must-haves. Remasters that improve the originals by a lot, while also keeping them as part of the package, rendering the older release obsolete, two examples being Diablo II: Resurrected and Quake. Next in line are those remasters which are exactly that: remasters. New coat of paint, wide-screen support, slightly altered UI, and so on, like in, say, Shadow Man Remastered or Blade of Darkness. At the bottom of the barrel? Junk-fests similar to Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition, or low effort deals like Dark Souls Remastered. Sadly, Life is Strange Remastered Collection sits somewhere between those two…

Life is Strange is the tale of two young women that's just left adolescence. It's a tale that deals with their renewed friendship, the struggles of college, and the intricacies of small-town life… as well as the impending doom in the form of a titanic tornado that will soon engulf Arcadia Bay, and the fact that Max, part one of the protagonist duo, can rewind time. The next instalment, Before the Storm, is less… apocalyptic and "magical," as it's simply a story of two girls: Chloe, the friend of Max from the original, and Rachel. In any other series this transition from semi-fantasy to full-on-realism would feel weird. In here it doesn't, though, and that's because the "meat" on both of these games is the interaction between the characters. A teen-drama through and through, this is all about young adults interacting with other young adults, as well as those pesky not-so-young-adults.

Screenshot for Life is Strange Remastered Collection on PC

The core of the show is definitely Max and Chloe. How they change throughout the journey, and how it is shown that there's more to them than 'insecure geek,' and 'angry rebel.' These two are the backbone of Life is Strange, but there are also other characters to interact with, and this is where this truly shines, as it offers a great variety of people of all sorts of "flavours." Some of the writing is kind of awkward, and the way younger people talk isn't always believable, but for the most part this is really good in making the player feel that this is a real place, with real people, rather than soulless NPCs.

It helps that both games have a nice, leisure pace. This isn't a high-octane first-person shooter, but a slice-of-life kind of deal. If you just want to "finish the game," you won't enjoy what's on offer here. Instead, one must be willing to explore around, look at every small detail, read every journal page, talk with all people, and, generally, poke around, get lost in the moment, and become fully immersed into the microcosm that is Arcadia Bay. Setting and characters. That's the beauty of these two titles. Oh, and don't forget that this is a cause-and-consequence kind of adventure, with many different paths to follow, and as such, different outcomes to reach.

Screenshot for Life is Strange Remastered Collection on PC

The only thing that's a bit of a miss and hit might be what almost all narrative-driven games suffer from: gameplay. That little thingy is at its best when it doesn't get in the way of the story. When Max is tasked with going to her room to get A, so that she can bring it to B, the fun is not the act itself, but what can happen between A and B. When you are forced to pixel-hunt inside a garage for a set of tools, or search for five beer bottles in a junkyard, however, the whole thing becomes a chore, as, despite this giving you the chance to explore, and even discover bits of "character lore," not much will happen while at it, something that will turn this three-to-five-minute-long session feel like it takes much more than that. The use of time rewinding can too become a source of aggravation.

Screenshot for Life is Strange Remastered Collection on PC

Max's power gives her the ability to go back in time and alter the course of a conversation or action. In practice this means that the game frequently has her do something wrong so that she can then rewind time and do it correctly the second time. It's not that this mechanics doesn't get enough chances to shine, it's just that it can frequently annoy as well, and even get in the way of immersion. When for example a character is threatened by something, but you can rewind time again and again, you just go through the motions, with fear not really being a part of the equation. By contrast, when a girl wants to commit suicide, and Max briefly loses her power, it makes the whole process of talking her out of it far more tense. Nerve breaking to be exact.

It should be noted that as the game goes on the whole "alter space-time continuum" thingy gets far more interesting. It stops feeling like a cool gimmick, and makes you really thing about the repercussions of your actions, as chaos theory works in full power in those final chapters. Before the Storm, which is the prequel to the original story, is less "ambitious" in terms of fictional elements. In fact, it doesn't have any fictional elements. Not a problem, of course, because it's still strong with the character interactions, the plot, the drama, the feels. How strong? Well… not a strong as one would want it to. It's a good series of episodes, for sure, but the quality kind of goes up and down, with a slight inclination towards down.

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In conclusion, two very good games, bundled together, and remastered. While they both have their issues (especially the second one), such a collection is a bargain, right? Sadly, the answer is: it depends, as the upgrade offered here is somewhat underwhelming, and has a couple - and then some - of issues. For starters, if already in possession of the original duology you can safely skip this collection. The visual enhancements at hand are a bit… conservative. A couple of reflections here, some better shadows there, and so on. That is almost to be expected from a series that started its life in not-so-distant 2015, but some changes are questionable.

This looks good, no doubt about it, but side-by-side comparisons will have most people scratching their heads. Weird lighting and lots of super-dark spots; blurred textures, plus instances where faces actually look de-mastered… while moments later they get better; and, finally, many graphical glitches. If that wasn't enough, many have experienced game-crashing bugs. This critic felt lucky, as, eight or so hours into the game, and there wasn't a single problem… and then the game froze up, and denied ever working past the point that happened. This needs plenty of work to be a solid recommendation, especially for the price-tag it carries.

Screenshot for Life is Strange Remastered Collection on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Deeply emotive, well written, respectful of player choice, and with a great look and atmosphere, Life is Strange and Life is Strange: Before the Storm are must-haves for anyone interested in narrative-driven adventures that focus more on the characters than the plot itself - even when taking their flaws into consideration. When it comes to the remastered collection, though… better wait for a generous bargain if already in possession of the original instalments, as the upgrades are not that strong, and the package isn't devoid of a few technical issues. If a total newcomer, however, be sure to check it out - although you can expect a bug or two if unlucky.

Developer

Deck Nine

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

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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