Gamers love Life Is Strange. They do not just in a well-mannered way well known it — they love it. At Square Enix’s E3 information convention, I heard people cheer just as loudly for Life Is Strange as they did for Final Fantasy. Reviewers typically reward every new episode, while the net runneth over with fanfiction, fanart and countless discussions approximately the sport’s issues, characters, and gameplay. Something approximately the games without a doubt grips human beings.
And it’s no longer the combat, due to the fact there isn’t always any.
While I’m now not a diehard Life Is Strange fan myself, one factor I find charming approximately the collection is that it manages to create gripping gameplay without the use of combat as a relevant mechanic. Just approximately every hit game — no matter how stupid, extreme or heartfelt — generally falls returned on combating. But Life Is Strange managed to hook up with a large target market in manner that nonviolent adventure games often war to do. At PAX West 2019, I got to sit down down with Michel Koch, the franchise’s creative director, and discover why.
Remembering Remember Me
Longtime fanatics of Dontnod, Life Is Strange’s developer, may additionally recollect that the studio’s first game, Remember Me, was quite one of a kind than the studio’s extra latest output.
“When we worked on the primary Life Is Strange, we had no concept if it might resonate or now not with gamers,” Koch said. “We had completed our first recreation, Remember Me, which became an active recreation.”
Although Remember Me had a formidable story, critics referred to that the combat felt a little rote, and in the end wrote pretty combined reviews for the game. (Our own evaluate on TechNewsDaily, a predecessor to Tom’s Guide, has been lost to the vicissitude of internet caching, but we gave the game a middling rating for comparable reasons.) Koch and the Dontnod crew realized that they wanted their subsequent game to have the identical attention on storytelling and characters, however without the livid pacing of an fight-centric recreation.
We started out to suppose that we, in reality, desired to take stories first and main,” Koch said. “Stories targeted on man or woman improvement, where the player should take time to look around on the scenery, study the surroundings, get the tale of the characters first. Remember Me, you didn’t have plenty of time to take a look at the environmental storytelling.
“We idea, ‘Let’s pass for a heavy story-based journey game — take our time and tell a tale and communicate about the characters. We ended up with a tale about Max and Chloe and time travel and coming-of-age. This concept that at a point in your life, you have to be given your picks and go ahead.”
To create a sport that rivets gamers without combat, then, the first step is to craft a fascinating tale and a memorable solid of characters. To achieve this, Koch and his crew determined to address actual-global troubles, along with LGBT illustration and racism, head-on.
The method worked. People who had in no way visible themselves represented in a video game before eventually observed relatable characters in the Life Is Strange solid.
“We tried to create characters that felt actual, and that had been a reflection of our actual existence with social troubles,” Koch said. “Looking at the gamers’ reception — the letters we received for the first game and the second one sport — it is something that certainly works well. They identify themselves in a number of the minorities, or a number of the troubles we are talking approximately in the sport. This regularly tells us that they don’t see themselves a good deal in other games … We give a voice to characters that are not given a voice regularly in video games.”
Good characters and a great story are essential, but a sport that isn’t amusing to play might not attract many fans in the long run. I asked Koch how Life Is Strange, and video games in widespread, can preserve gamers glued to their displays without the visceral satisfaction of fight.
“I play a lot of video video games, a few violent ones, but some nonviolent,” he spoke back. “I genuinely think that players can be engaged with the aid of different matters than just violence. They can be engaged by way of an awesome tale, by individual development. For myself, at the least, with the aid of complex speak, interactive communicate, dialogue choice, if it is properly-designed and the characters are responding efficaciously.
“It’s now not for each person, for positive, and I virtually apprehend. Action games with twitchy gameplay where you want to be right with the console is engaging, however it’s not the only way … In our kind of recreation, I suppose it’s certainly about engaging the participant in living the story.”