Critical Play: Mysteries

I played Life is Strange by Square Enix on my iOS device.

The target audience for this game is people who enjoy mystery games with a lot of interactions and a little bit of exploring. The version that I played is the high school one and that makes the target audience also people interested in high school and teenager drama.

The game gets straight into the mystery at the beginning. You start out in a rainy area with a tornado nearby. The storm is strong and scary. The game prompts you to walk to the nearby lighthouse for protection. Then when you get next to the lighthouse you’re transported to a classroom with no explanation. These elements makes it so that the game meets the type of fun intended, which is working towards solving a mystery.

Initiating the feeling of mystery so early on in the game was a success for the game creators. However, the process of learning how to use the superpower in the game was a failure as it felt annoying, repetitive, and hard to control. In some interactions, the game expects a particular reaction or choice from the player. If the player chooses the wrong action, you have to rewind time and try again. In some cases, you cannot move on without going through this process as it lets you learn what the right answer for things is. This process felt lengthy and too expected.

The thing I would change about the game is to make it so that the time-traveling doesn’t go through the quick rewind when it takes you back. It is just annoying to have to sit there and wait. Quick teleportation would do just fine.

The formal elements of the game are:

  • The main character, which is the player you get to control
  • The other characters which are NPCs
  • The control buttons for looking around, moving, rewinding time, taking a picture, and checking phone texts
  • The NPC interaction options which are looking at them or speaking
  • The space that you get to explore which is the high school


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