Game Reviews

Remastered Too Soon? | “Life is Strange Remastered Collection” (2022) Game Review

Last week on InReview, the subject of old and newer games receiving remakes or remasters was discussed. This week, we dive deeper into one of those games: Life is Strange, specifically the recent remastering of the original game and the prequel “Before the Storm”.

The developing team of the series, DONTNOD, noted that the intent behind remastering these games was mainly to graphically refurbish them. Predictably, the storyline and general gameplay of both games remained completely untouched.

Today’s piece will do two things: Provide a general review of the two games, then talk about if they were actually worth remastering. After all, if you already had the original, is it really worth the time (and money) buying their remastered forms?

Let’s begin with a general review of both games. Starting off will be the pros, followed up by the cons.

Casts of characters are both interesting and relatable

Chloe Price of Before the Storm is a troubled high school girl, caught amidst a sea of drug problems, issues with her stepdad and an aversion to school and putting forth an effort into her education. Max Caulfield is the same age as Chloe, and though her problems at home aren’t as bad as Chloe’s and she doesn’t battle drug addiction, she isn’t too far from the average teenager. She’s fairly introverted, is a relatively average student and is regularly involved with school friends and extracurriculars. Oh, and, she can warp the fabric of time as know it. Just like anyone her age!

The supporting cast is pretty solid too. In Before the Storm, Chloe’s relationship with her stepfather is very negative, but is malleable via character development and is interesting to follow. Max’s relationship with Chloe in the original game is also quite interesting and is a recurring major theme of the game. Beyond that, interesting background characters such as the gangster Damon Merrick, Rachel Amber, Mr. Jefferson, David and the Prescott family give both games a nice variety of characters to invest emotionally in.

Player decision truly matters

As previously mentioned, Chloe’s relationship with her stepdad, David, is largely determined by player choice; she can distance herself greatly from him and cause a great deal of problems for the two at home, she can eventually warm up to him, or bits and pieces of both. Chloe’s relationship with Rachel Amber can be as friends or lovers. That same idea can be found between her and Max in the original game as well. Fates of various side characters are also in the player’s hands. Chloe can give specific relationship advice to a couple of her friends that can change how their character development plays out. How she decides to handle large sums of cash in a few different scenes can also have large consequences at various points of the game. In general, both games with a slight emphasis on Before the Storm present sandboxes to the player, where they can mold the world around Chloe or Max significantly.

Antagonists in both games are quite well-designed

In Before the Storm, David seems to be the game’s first real antagonist, and he is incredibly hateable. Later, the gangster Damon Merrick as well as Rachel’s dad, James, take the spotlight in trying to demonize Chloe and Rachel. For the original game, following the breadcrumb trail of a mysterious serial killer turns into quite the entertaining plot twist. In either game, there’s always a ‘big bad’ of sorts who gives the game an edge that it needed.

These games weren’t perfect. Let’s talk about what they missed on.

Before the Storm has a horrible ending to it

Right before the final cinematic of the game that precedes rolling the credits, the player is prompted to make an incredibly powerful decision which basically serves as a ‘final exam’ of sorts — the game builds the player up and slowly tests their moral worldviews. A large cutscene shortly before this one acts as some kind of ‘sneak peek’ of sorts, setting the stage for them to end the game off with one final powerful decision to finalize how the game will end. The player then goes one way or the other with this decision. The scene then plays out silently, as the characters around Chloe emotionally react to what the player decided to do. This lasts for roughly 30 seconds before fading to black and ending the game off then and there. This is the problem — the ending is unfairly abrupt and only vaguely portrays how the player’s ultimate decision pans out. It almost seems as if it was one of those really old movies where the director ran out of film and had to make some extremely messy cuts to fit the content in to the end. It was really disappointing, and the game would’ve had a far, far better ending if the final cutscene had some dialogue and actual sound for even just two minutes before finally fading to black. This was a wholly unsatisfying way to end what was otherwise a well-designed story.

That’s about it, really.

Overall, I’d give both games simple grades of a B+ each. Neither of them won any national awards with good reason, but they’re both fun, captivating experiences that mostly anyone could enjoy.

Now, the question is: Should these games have received remasters as they did?

The answer is absolutely not. Never mind the timeframe in which the remasters occurred, but consider what the remasters actually brought to the table that the originals of both games lacked. What exactly did the remasters do?

For $40, this is what you got:

For $40, did you get better gameplay? Faster loading times? Added content? No, you got refurbished character graphics to the characters and a couple different rooms. Everything else, even subtitles, look the exact same as the original. Sure, said refurbishing looks pretty good. However, as proven last week, you can get the original Life is Strange games on EBay or Amazon for less than $20. Unless you’ve fallen in love with the characters, or you’re a trophy hunter eager to take advantage of the franchise’s notoriously easy achievements, it’s not really worth the extra $25 that this game currently costs. As such, though the games are well-made, I cannot actually recommend that anyone purchase these games unless the previous points apply to you. For more information, see last week’s column on remastered games.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: