Review: ‘Life is Strange Remastered Collection’ feels unnecessary
You know when you were younger and you thought Ocarina of Time had really great-looking graphics? And now when you see new releases with incredibly high-resolution, detailed textures, older games look like a child’s drawing by comparison? That phenomenon is so strange to me, but it helps me understand why I don’t really get remasters for recent games like the Life is Strange Remastered Collection.
When I played Life is Strange for the first time, I thought it looked pretty good. It’s got a nice, pleasant art style that gives it an almost painted quality — fitting, seeing as how the main characters attend art school. If I look back at the original now, I can tell the models and animations are a little off, but at the time it never really bothered me. I guess what I’m saying is that when I played Life is Strange Remastered Collection, I didn’t immediately notice a huge difference. This isn’t a complete and total remake with all new assets like the Resident Evil 2 remake, it’s just a barely noticeable remaster with some different lighting, more detailed textures, and some new animations. And even then, there’s still some weirdness to the movement and animations, and there are quite a few bugs as well.
So as I played through this remaster I was left to wonder… why? Why did we need this? The short answer is we didn’t, but let’s dive in.
The collection comes with remastered versions of both Life is Strange and its prequel companion, Life is Strange: Before the Storm. Life is Strange took the indie gaming sphere by storm (pun intended) in 2015, and introduced a lot of gamers to story-driven experiences with minimal gameplay. You play as Max, an art student with the ability to turn back time. Gameplay revolves around this power, presenting you with puzzles and dialogue choices that require you to try multiple solutions. If you make a mistake, you can just rewind and try again — a power we all wish we had. In Before the Storm, you play as Chloe, who, admittedly, doesn’t have any cool supernatural powers. Instead, you do combat by words. Her power is arguing and insulting people, so the gameplay is all about doing sick takedowns on losers who try to get in Chloe’s way.
These games were certainly good for the mid-2010s, but to be honest, I’m not sure either of them really holds up to today’s standards. The writing is a little stilted, and at times downright cringeworthy. I’m sure there are games coming out today that we will say the same thing about in five years, but it definitely feels like a product of its time. I also don’t typically see the need to replay a lot of story-driven games. If the story is the main focal point, and you’ve already experienced it, I’m not sure what more you can get out of the game after the credits roll. There are different choices to make and multiple endings to experience, but due to the nature of the gameplay, you can typically do that in one playthrough anyway.
For those who have played through these before, I just don’t think there’s enough new content here to justify repurchasing them. The graphical updates aren’t immediately noticeable, there are still plenty of bugs, and one bonus episode at the end doesn’t seem like enough for the average consumer. Die-hard fans of the series might be content with the minuscule amount of new content and a slightly better-looking experience, and the younger generation can experience these titles for the first time, but I’m not sure who else this remaster is even for. There may be a more noticeable difference between the remastered versions and originals on consoles, but on PC, the Life is Strange Remastered Collection just doesn’t make sense.
These two Life is Strange games are worth experiencing, and I do still think they have fantastic stories that are worth experiencing. I’m glad I played through them the first time, but I didn’t really need a second playthrough, and the little new content and upgrades there are didn’t make up for that. If this remastered collection allows a newer generation of gamers to experience a type of game they aren’t used to, then I’m glad. But for anyone else, the Life is Strange Remastered Collection just seems entirely unnecessary.
This review is based on the PC version of the game. A copy was provided to us by Square Enix.
Though it's a good entry point for series newcomers, Life is Strange Remastered Collection seems entirely unnecessary for anyone else.