So ends my year in gaming. Episodic titles were really the standouts, with one in particular really standing out among all those even just released this year: Life is Strange.
Life is Strange stars Max, a young girl attending high school in her home town of Arcadia Bay, Oregon, having returned there after several years away, and discovers one day that she has the power to rewind time. It should be obvious already how that will transition into a tale of love, drugs, murder, and rampant photography, right? No? Well, I guess you should play the game then!
Seriously, I do urge you to check this out. So much so that I don't even want to talk much about the plot here because I want you to experience it firsthand (unless anyone would like to, in which case comment away, but please do use spoiler tags). I will say that, from where it started, I never expected it to end the way it did nor go down many of the paths it took. There were significant psychological issues shown here, and I was honestly a little disturbed at times. But it was such a fun ride, one my fiancée and I enjoyed together.
The mechanic that makes Life is Strange different from other point-and-click adventures is the rewind ability. You could use it to choose better dialogue options (maybe you made a mistake and upset somebody you didn't want to, or they let slip something that might have been more useful earlier in a conversation to lead it to where you wanted) or stop simple events from happening by intervening. I feel that it was handled well; Max wasn't an all-powerful Time Lord bending time to her will. In fact, she barely had control over it and you weren't able to use it in some critical moments because of that.
Probably the only thing that I disliked about the game was the ending - and that's not even much of a "dislike." The game just unfortunately fell into the trap of your choices not really mattering. You basically have two endings, and I chose the less destructive of the two. But that didn't mean your adventure went to waste, because you still have your memories of the week and... Well, that's starting to get into spoiler territory, but it just wasn't generally a bad ending to me. I'd totally understand why somebody might disagree though.
What made this game were the characters. There were so many, perfectly capturing, sometimes rather annoyingly, a lot of familiar personality types you could probably easily associate with somebody you know in real life. They weren't caricatures, but certainly diverse and made for some interesting interactions. Plus some were just plain fun people.
Dontnod Entertainment did something really great here. Just in terms of making a game that looks good and functioned well, but also with an episodic game that generally had a good release schedule. Every episode had plenty of content to boot.
Life is Strange may well be my game of the year. This somewhat mundane slice of life simulator turned into a deeper mystery thriller that I loved every step of the way.