Life is Strange Arcadia Bay Collection for the Nintendo Switch gives two full versions of games from the franchise, Life is Strange and Life is Strange Before the Storm, that showcase Max and Chloe’s stories while allowing players a glimpse into the rest of the series. This is a great way for players new to the franchise to get an introduction to the characters and storyline. This fully immersive game allows you to view the world from the point of view of the characters. These games are remastered from the originals and are a good way to experience two solid narrative-driven games.
Each game has its own storyline, but the stories are connected. You play as the young 18-year-old, Maxine ‘Max’ Caufield, in Life is Strange. Max sits in class at the beginning of the game and has a vision where she learns she has the ability to manipulate time at will. This gives her the ability to revise certain decisions she made that did not go exactly as she planned, similar to a “re-do button.” She uses her newfound powers to save the life of her childhood friend, Chloe Price, which begins a story of friendship that doesn’t shy away from tackling darker, more serious matters.
On the other hand, in “Life is Strange-Before the Storm” the story takes place years before the first game and focuses on a younger 16-year-old Chloe Price and her relationship with her best friend named Rachel Amber. As Chloe, you have the ability to “backtalk”, which may not be as fun as manipulating time but allows the opportunity for more dialog and suits Chloe’s more volatile personality as well.
These games are narrative driven by the dialogue you choose and the decisions you make as the player. Both characters are able to interact with the world around them as they explore Arcadia Bay and live their lives. As you learn new information, it is recorded in your journal so you can refer back to it as needed.
Life is Strange
When playing as Max in the first game, you will have the ability to reverse time to alter your choices. If you made a decision that didn’t end up the way you wanted it to, just reverse time backwards and try again. There are risks to using this gift too much, and those are learned as you play through. As you interact with more characters through conversations, you will learn how to help save your childhood friend Chloe. Much of the game is spent walking around the various locations in Arcadia Bay to find clues. There are also times when you will need to stop and solve various puzzles. While not difficult, they may be time consuming and interrupt the flow of gameplay as you progress through the story.
The game is divided into five chapters and your character is the only one who remembers using the reverse time ability, no one around her does. Chloe knows of her gift and tests it constantly, but even she doesn’t remember it being used. The game mostly involves talking to different characters to gather information you need to solve the mystery, and your ability to reverse time becomes very useful as many conversations need to be restarted in order to get all the clues. Not only do you get information through conversations, but Max is a budding young photographer and you have the opportunity to take many stunning pictures. Each area of the world you explore has new clues and conversations to help solve the mystery. There is also the opportunity to romance your choice of a female or male character.
Life is Strange – Before the Storm
When playing as Chloe in Before the Storm, your character will have the option to choose other dialogue options during the conversations using “backtalk”, which opens up more dialogue that helps players learn more about her story. Chloe, as a young teenager, is full of anger and distrust. You do not have the ability to manipulate time, but you can still have lots of fun playing the fiery-tempered Chloe. You learn what events shaped her into the blue-haired punk rocker she is today. You walk around and interact with objects and characters the same way you did in the first game, the difference being Chloe has the ability to “backtalk”, and this allows for more dialogue choices.
You become best friends with Rachel Amber and learn about a horrible secret that could have devastating consequences for Rachel and her family. The game gives you a glimpse into Chloe’s life since she was 14 and what circumstances molded her into the character that becomes a huge part of Max’s life and story.
Graphics and Soundtrack
The art style of the game is pretty realistic, and the textures of the characters are mostly smooth and pleasing to look at. There are some instances of blurriness or frame rate drops, but those are rare. The gameplay is pretty smooth and the minor hiccups don’t take away from gameplay. The scenery of the game is quite beautiful as you explore the different worlds, and the music is very impactful as well. The soundtrack contains powerful songs that can help you experience the game in a more immersive manner. Several scenes are represented with a darker sounding style of music, and it definitely helps make those moments more impactful. The haunting melodies and upbeat tunes provide a perfect backdrop for the twists and turns this story takes.
The Life is Strange Arcadia Bay Collection for the Nintendo Switch is a great way to introduce new players to the franchise as well as provide a lovely trip down memory lane for existing fans. The choices you make affect the way you experience the game. The narratives in the games are incredible and the stories are very well told, though at times the subject matter can get dark. The game’s storyline comes with some trigger warnings for topics that may be sensitive to players, including discussions on whether or not to help someone take their life. The storylines also deal with bullying and abuse at times, so it can be hard for some players to experience.
That being said, the games make sure to emphasize that life is strange and must be lived your own way, whatever that might look like. It makes it a point that we should never apologize for that or live with the “what-ifs”. If you are a fan of narrative games that allow you to be the narrator and choose how the story plays out, with plenty of drama and some real-life struggles thrown in, ‘Life is Strange’ may be the game for you.
Life is Strange Arcadia Bay Collection gets a 7.5/10.