Review: Life is Strange is Both Beautiful and Tedious on Mobile

Life is Strange has been called all sorts of headline-making buzzwords, but with a move to iOS, it [...]

(Photo: Dontnod Entertainment)

Life is Strange has been called all sorts of headline-making buzzwords, but with a move to iOS, it becomes more than its enthusiastic following may have ever imagined. Okay: admittedly, not much has changed about the narrative, but experiencing games with long narratives on mobile is still a pretty foreign concept to many. Following the heroine, Max, as she uncovers secrets about the people around her and herself, Life is Strange tells the same story it did before, in a package meant for a much, much larger audience. For someone who often must endure the hellish experiences of public transit in Los Angeles, having an immersive game tucked away for play in my bag can be a saving grace. Life is Strange served that purpose well, with only a few hiccups.

Reformatted for mobile, the graphics play well on most iOS screen sizes, though parts of the game's cut scenes did clip and reveal a few too many jagged edges for this writer not to notice. Despite that, it runs fast and smooth on the iPhone 6s as well as the 8, and is likely an even better cinematic experience on the iPad. Sound, with headphones in, is crisp and gorgeous, capturing the game-changing voice acting of cast members like Ashly Burch. Life is Strange, on all of its available platforms, is an engaging story that you have to listen to (or read the subtitles carefully) in order to achieve the best end.

That, unfortunately, is hindered by controls that mean well, but aren't complex enough for what needs to be done on screen. Navigating the player, Max, around can be a bit of a challenge (or just a little slow, really) due to the fact that you must guide her along by tapping different parts of the screen, or items you'd like her to explore, then waiting for her to get there. This movement control isn't new to mobile platforms, but when certain scenes require Max to run or navigate and narrow path, it can be a serious hindrance.

Regardless, the game has value on iOS specifically because nothing else was sacrificed for the port. Episodes are available separately at $2.99, but once you've got them all, playing through can be seamless. It might honestly play better on tablets than phone, especially because of the sheer amount of tapping that needs to be done in order to accomplish a single goal, but it's worth the time for players who either haven't tried the game due to limited access, or those of us who have loved the series since its debut and want to have it in our pockets for replays.

Life is Strange is now available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, and iOS.