Square Enix and Dontnod, developer of the artful sci fi brawler Remember Me, have announced Life is Strange, a wholly new IP that purports to push the boundaries of both gameplay and narrative. The game will roll out episodically, with the effects of your actions cascading into subsequent episodes, in the style of Telltale Games‘ episodic series’.
Life is Strange will follow Max Caulfield, who returns home to Oregon after five years away to discover that his schoolmate Rachel Amber has vanished under mysterious circumstances. While trying to uncover the truth, Max discovers that she has developed the power to rewind time.
The most interesting elements of Dontnod’s previous game, Remember Me, were the cyberpunk memory hacking sequences in which protagonist Nilin would enter the minds of her adversaries and manipulate their memories to suit her needs. Those sequences were the innovative standout of an otherwise uninspired brawler. It is encouraging to see the developer leaning into the mechanic by going literal with time travel instead of memory manipulation, and building a game around it rather than just tacking it on to a safer, known genre.
The concept bears a marked similarity to The Black Glove, another narrative-focused time travel game being developed by former Irrational Games developers. Both games invoke the butterfly effect as a way to gamify causality and experiment with systemic narrative, as invoked by Ken Levine in is recent GDC talk.
Life is Strange is set to release on PC and PlayStation/Xbox consoles. Square has brought a playable form of the game to Gamescom 2014, so expect more specifics as the public gets their hands on it in Cologne.
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