Life Is Strange: Episode 1 - Chrysalis

aka: What If
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Chrysalis is the first episode of the five-part Life Is Strange adventure series. The entire game takes place in the course of a week in October 2013. The story is told from the point of view of Maxine Caulfield, a 12th grade student who wants to make a career in photography and gets a scholarship for the fictional Blackwell Academy in Arcadia Bay, Oregon (USA). She grew up in Arcadia Bay and spent most of her childhood there until she had to move with her parents to Seattle, leaving behind her best friend Chloe. This first episode starts with a strange vision near a lighthouse, showing a tornado, and then moves on to a photography class, taught by Mark Jefferson, at the academy. This episode largely serves to establish Max as a character and to introduce the people in her class and dorm and their relationships. There are however several events and relevations that already force Max to take some tough decisions.

Rather than a puzzle based adventure game, it is more of an interactive drama similar to the contemporary Telltale games. Max can explore the full 3D environment freely and the focus is on interaction with other characters to shape the story and character arc. There is a free camera during exploration and cinematic camera angles during cut-scenes. While walking around characters or items of interest are highlighted in white with their name shown. By clicking relevant words or actions are shown and those can be selected. Early on in the game Max discovers she has a strange ability that allows her to rewind time at will. With a strong focus on choice and consequence, and providing or withholding information, Max often has to choose sides. She can use this ability, which is a part of the game world and not just a game mechanic, to rewind time and watch the outcome of different choices before deciding how to move on. She can also use information for different choices at the initial starting point, for instance to warn people or to anticipate actions or questions or to steal an object and then rewind them to prevent people from noticing. There is a limit to the length of rewinding as the game uses internal checkpoints at certain points, but almost any scene can be rewound, weighing the consequences as the game encourages the player to experience the butterfly effect. Similar to the Telltale games the player is warned when characters will remember Max' actions, when there are consequences or when new conversation options are available if time is rewound.

Rewinding time is shown as a spiral in the top left corner of the screen with dots for important decisions. Most of the progress is based on exploration and conversations, but there are a few minor environment based puzzles, often based on the rewind function, information from conversations, observations or using a single item that is stored automatically and does not require inventory management. There are often small, optional parts in the game, encouraging exploration to take pictures of specific situations. These are stored in a separate screen and are rewarded with achievements or trophies. Max keeps track of the events in her diary. Important documents are stored in a separate screen and there is also an overview of all the characters she meets along with a bio. Max can sit down in various locations and she will then ponder the game's events. The game has a texting system Max uses to receive messages from other characters in the game. Unlike many Telltale games there are no timed conversation options with neutral choices where you do not choose anything at all, or quick time events. At the end of each episode an overview of all the major and minor choices is shown, with percentages for all players worldwide.

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Credits (Windows version)

376 People (310 developers, 66 thanks) · View all

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Subject By Date
Now free on Steam Freeman (62403) Jul 23rd, 2016



  • Steam Awards
    • 2016 — The 'I’m Not Crying, There’s Something In My Eye' Award — Nominated

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Sciere.

Macintosh, Linux added by Arejarn. Android added by t-rex91.

Additional contributors: Havoc Crow (formerly JudgeDeadd), Evolyzer.

Game added June 22nd, 2015. Last modified July 16th, 2023.