There is no secret that video games are a big business, grossing more each year that Hollywood and growing each year. In fact, video games have largely replaced television for me. To that end I wish to start honoring what I consider to be the best of the best each year. This may turn into a more regular feature if enough interest develops. That said, lets just get right to it with this year’s winner.

Simply put, Life is Strange is a stunning game. It has incredible depth of writing, compelling and believable characters, and story hooks and twists of a mystery that kept me up far too late far too frequently trying to figure out what’s going on. It is sold in an episodic fashion, of which I have always been skeptical, but in this case makes the pacing of the game down into 5 acts that follow very much like a Shakespearean  play. Finally the soundtrack for the game fits the milieu of the North-Eastern Coast, particularly the hipster state of Oregon.

You play the game as the non-silent protagonist Maxine Caulfield who is attending the prestigious Blackwell Academy in her senior year of High School to hone her budding talent of photography. However, after witnessing a tragic event she discovers she has the power to rewind time and stop this tragedy before it happens. This starts a cycle of where Max has to continually use her power to overcome the new obstacles put in her way to uncover the dark secrets that Blackwell Academy and it’s host town Arcadia Bay hold.

What I really loved about this game is just how believable the story is. It follows many coming of age themes, overcoming and standing up to bullies, self discovery and discovery of love, and forming the bonds of lifelong friendship. However it also addresses many other issues such as how you help a depressed friend or how you react when you find out someone has had an abortion. It was truly refreshing to see the women in this game not acting as objects that move the plot forward for the men in game but instead as fully actualized adults. While there is some women on women conflict and women talking about dates with boys this does seem to secondary in your interactions with them. You primary interactions with the other women, whether friendly or adversarial, are about your relationship with that person.

Ultimately this is the game I enjoyed the most in 2015 and I recommend it to everyone. I hope you choose to give it a try.

 

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