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Life Is Strange, The Time-Traveling Mystery With Do-Overs, Has Arrived

We don't get many new releases on Thursdays but today Life is Strange debuted on Steam. The unusual release date seems fitting because, well, Life's an unusual game.

Life is Strange, the second game by Remember Me developer Dontnod Entertainment, is a point-and-click adventure. In Life is Strange, the player is a photography student named Maxine Caulfield who has returned to her hometown after five years away. She decides to help her best friend Chloe find a girl who recently disappeared. The player's choices throughout this investigation will have short-term and long-term consequences. It will also change the ending of the game.

That's not the unusual part.

The unusual part is how the story is told. Maxine has the ability to rewind time like that guy in Braid. This means that she can re-do certain conversations or actions and potentially take the story in different ways. If you've got buyer's remorse over a choice, you can take it back.

There are some limits to this time travel, of course. You can't rewind past checkpoints. This means you can't be certain whether your new choices are really the right ones. They might turn out great in the immediate future but actually be disastrous in the long run. That's bound to mess with players' heads a bit. The upside, though, is that it means you'll have reason to replay the game once you're finished.

Telltale proved with The Walking Dead and Wolf Among Us that there are plenty of gamers interested in story-driven games that opt for dialogue over action. I'm curious how Life is Strange will fare, though, considering it doesn't have an established license to fall back on. The fact that Life doesn't have the outward appearance of an action game - there are no zombies or monsters in the screenshots to grab your eye - might also make it hard to attract attention. A lot of publishers seemed to think that the game was too risky an investment, thanks in part to the female protagonists.

"Square is basically the only publisher who didn’t want to change anything about the game," said creative director Jean-Maxime Moris in a developer diary. "We had other publishers telling us to make it a male lead character, and Square didn’t even question that once."

I don't doubt that "teenage girls solving mysteries" is a tough premise to sell to some gamers. Still, if the story turns out to be well-written and the time travel mechanic is executed smartly, I'd like to think that even those skeptics would give it a shot. We'll have to wait and see how players respond.

Life is Strange's story will be told over five episodes released about six weeks apart. Episode One will hit PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 on Friday.

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.