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Game Review

If you could rewind any given 60 seconds of your life and make things different, would you? For that matter, should you? Is it really true that all of our choices have some kind of ripple effect on everything else around us?

These are the kinds of questions the video game Life is Strange asks through its multi-chaptered, time-rewinding tale.

And they're the kind of questions that stick with you.

Be Kind, Rewind

Gamers play as a high school girl named Max Caulfield who's recently returned to her hometown of Arcadia Bay to attend prestigious Blackwell Academy. Like many of her peers there, Max hopes someday to make her mark on the art world. She's a shy-but-serious student who also has some serious photography skills. She loves carting around her old Polaroid camera capturing instant snapshots of life, little freeze-frame memorials to certain things in a certain place at a certain time.

Max' soon learns, however, that her true skill is her inexplicable ability to rewind time around her.

Almost by accident, the quiet teen saves another girl's life. Without even knowing she can do it, Max turns the clock back on a deadly moment and rescues a blue-haired Blackwell dropout named Chloe, who was Max's BFF some five years earlier. The two had fallen out of touch after Chloe's dad was killed in a car accident and Max moved away. Now they are reunited, their friendship rekindled by Max's emerging superpowers.

But what if that time-respooling ability could stretch beyond the most recent moments? What if, just by looking at a snapshot from the past, Max could go back and inhabit that day, that instant, that place? What wrongs might be set right? What wounds could be healed? Could the many current troubles of Arcadia Bay be fixed by a teen girl named Max?

A Deep Dive Into the Teen Condition

Science tells us that the teen brain is awash in a flood of powerful, mood-morphing hormones and neurotransmitters that can make decision-making for these adolescents difficult. Even if they're somewhat aware that they're about to make a big mistake, they still can't quite keep themselves from impulsive, reckless choices at times.

Accordingly, some of the teenagers in Max' world are horrid bullies. They get wrapped up in drugs, drinking and sexual acting out. They agonize through insecurities and emote feelings of love, betrayal and rage. They flail against overbearing parents and rebel because of absent ones. But the game states, via Max's rewinds, that wiser choices, gentler words and kinder actions can make an incredible difference in those lives. And everyone else's, too.

Rather than wishing that terrible things from your past had been different, Life Is Strange teaches, you can change your surroundings and situation by examining your choices right now. It suggests that a different step in the past might have actually made today worse, but a considered step today can pave the way for a better tomorrow.

The Moments We Can't Rewind

However, that's not all this game has lined up Max's viewfinder. Through in-game choices you'll witness drunken teen parties and a public suicide. You'll be part of a drug-induced torture and murder and participate in a so-called "mercy killing." You'll watch as a friend is crushed by a train, witness a town being demolished by a hurricane and find the decomposing corpse of a dead teen girl.

The painful torments and sometimes perverse encounters are many and messy in this M-rated game. And no matter how you choose or rewind, this is a world where teens brandish the crude vocabulary of a longshoreman. Blackwell is a school where "Go f--- your selfie" is as common as "Hi."

That pervasive nastiness ultimately taints this game's earnest words of wisdom regarding the choices we make. Because in this real world of ours, the things we consume do indeed make a difference. And, unlike Max, we can't rewind and unsee them.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

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Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews




Readability Age Range









Record Label


PlayStation 4, PC


Square Enix


January 19, 2016

On Video

Year Published



Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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