Life is Strange – Game Review

On the penultimate eve of what is swiftly becoming the geek event of the year – PAX AU – I thought I would celebrate the approaching nerdgasm with a review of a game that I have been playing on and off for the past few weeks.

I would have done a review sooner but I’ve basically been in post-game remorse since I finished it a couple days ago.

Life Is Strange

It certainly is. If you want a game that induces all the feels… EVERY. SINGLE. ONE… then you need to play this one.

Let me chuck in a disclaimer here, though. If you prefer a lot of activity in your gaming experience (think “activity” in First Person Shooter terms – button mashing and racing around shooting/hitting things), then you will not like this game. If you enjoy a character and plot-driven game that runs more like a choose-your-own-adventure book, then you will love it.

Life is Strange is about choices.

Cause and effect.

Chaos Theory.

It’s a game in five parts (or episodes) where you play the part of Max, a budding photographer who discovers she has the power to turn back time and rewrite the past, sometimes to the betterment and sometimes to the detriment of any given situation.

The game starts with saving the life of Max’s long-lost best friend, the blue-haired Chloe, and from there you follow the girls through their adventures. It’s a little Sweet Valley High mixed with Pretty Little Liars mixed with Twin Peaks mixed with Walking Dead.

But without the zombies.

Chloe and Max
Chloe and Max

For me, it was totally immersive. I became invested in both the characters and the storyline. It brought me to tears in a few parts – but maybe I’m just a sook… Though having watched a few people on Youtube playing the game, their reactions have been much the same.

The real star of the show is the beautiful soundtrack. A good musical score can make or break a film and the same can be said for a game like Life is Strange. The music is mellow and haunting and lovely. Paired up with the fantastic art and animation throughout, it’s a real treat. I’ve noticed a handful of folks criticising the voice acting and script but once you just get into it, you simply don’t notice the ridiculousness of it. (“You hella saved my life!”)

The game play itself is very simple, you look at everything, talk to everyone and choose an appropriate response. In some places you have problems to solve like finding number codes or remembering and repeating a sequence of events. And as I mentioned, every thing you do or don’t do or choose to say affects future scenes and decision – this idea of cause and effect is what the game is built around.

Unfortunately (and this seems to be a common and very loud complaint) is that the game will lead you to make one of two choices to finish. There are no alternative endings at all. So regardless of whatever choices you make throughout the game and how you change the journey within the storyline, you will always come back to one specific decision at the end. And that kinda sucks because unless you’re the type of person who likes to unlock every achievement possible and get the best stats, you’re not likely to want to replay. I have no problems with either of the endings but just felt bummed that regardless of how I chose throughout the game, it didn’t really matter. But that was a very small gripe in what was ultimately a very enjoyable experience.

Getting down to the technical nitty-gritty, the mechanics of the game are a little clunky. I do have to say that the drag-click thing with the mouse is annoying but if you happen to be playing this on a console, you have the option of hitting buttons which is obviously easier. (I was playing on the PC version.) Other than that, you move Max around with the typical WASD keys and steer with the mouse.

Life is Strange is available through Steam. You can buy the first episode, “Chrysalis”, for a fiver and if you like it you can buy the rest for $17USD. I finished the whole thing in about 15 hours of game play. Not bad for a little indie game. Not bad at all.

A solid 8/10.

Important note: The game has been found to be triggering for some people as it deals with illness, drugs and suicide. If you’re particularly sensitive to these concepts, steer clear. The game is also rated M for obvious reasons.

Stan. Apparently the Biggest Deal in Entertainment.

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a sponsored post.

If you’re driving along any major roads at the moment, you’re bound to come across this billboard:

Renlish.com - Stan. Review
The fabulous Rebel Wilson on the Stan billboard.

Yep. Welcome to Stan, the new Australian subscription video-on-demand service which is apparently our answer to the very popular Netflix and similar services that are so popular in the States (and around the world).

Now, it’s well known that Australians are the world dominating force when it comes to pirated films and TV shows. We’ve all done it. We all have our reasons. Whether we are tight-arses and tip rats who don’t want to pay for DVDs, movie tickets or the rip-off that is Foxtel (our only “cable” TV service) or we’re just so damned sick of having our commercials interrupted by a few silvers of popular television every couple of minutes – that shit is just not on.

Ideally, Stan is the answer to this problem. A cheap, easily accessible on-demand system that doesn’t lock you into any contracts and doesn’t cost an absolute bomb. At the moment they’re even giving folks who sign up a 30 day free trial and to be honest, for $10.00 AUD a month, I can’t say that’s it’s not a bargain deal. A tenner a month is (generally) easy for most folks. So by that fact alone, this should be a winner.

So why am I so underwhelmed?

Currently, Stan has the exclusive airing rights to the follow up to Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul. It also has the epic Aussie serial, Gallipoli. It’s using these two shows as it’s main draw card at the moment.

Unfortunately, I am not one of the masses who has enjoyed Breaking Bad… and I haven’t bothered with Gallipoli because well, I’m Australian. I KNOW that story.

What I think is bugging me about Stan is that there’s no real new content and there’s not a lot of what’s there. Most of what I have found is years old already with the exception of a few series and films like the Hobbit movies but as I said, most of it is old and, infuriatingly with some of the television series I am interested in seeing again are incomplete. I really am hoping that things like the original CSI will be made available in it’s entirety as opposed to starting from series 11.

ELEVEN!

Fuck’s sake.

Having said that, they do have a couple of old school favourite TV series like Drop Dead Diva and The Nanny  as well as gems like Star Trek (yes, ALL OF THE STAR TREKS) and there are a few cracking movies like Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing and Wolf of Wall Street available.

Anyway… the other thing that irritates me about Stan is the site itself. I hate the layout. I absolutely detest that I cannot access a simple list of all the movies and shows available, firstly because I don’t like relying on what other people believe certain things should be categorised under (um, Basic Instinct is NOT a romance…) and secondly, the current system doesn’t show all the films on the site or it re-tiles things I’ve already scrolled through. Films that are clearly in the collection aren’t showing up when I’m browsing and frankly, I hate being told what other people think I should be watching.

Anyway, that’s my whiny-arsed review of Stan.

To sum up…

Pros:

  • Cheap – free for 30 days then $10.00 AUD a month (via credit card subscription).
  • No contract and pay monthly as you use – you don’t have to buy a block of time.
  • Fast even on a regular ADSL connection.
  • Accessible on multiple devices – Yes, you can get Stan on computers, tablets and smartphones. (Apparently, I haven’t tested this because my smartphone is not compatible with the Stan app.) This system also allows up to three different users on the same account on three different devices.  While it might be hell on your data usage, it might contribute to domestic harmony.
  • Unlimited access and streaming – you can stream as much as your ISP data plan allows.
  • HD streaming is available.

Cons:

  • Limited content at the moment – most of what is there is VERY old.
  • You have to download software (Microsoft Silverlight on Windows machines) to stream media as it doesn’t stream with native software.
  • Very clunky menu/browsing system.
  • Stream only, you don’t get to download any content…. well… officially. We Aussies are good about getting around that sort of thing.

Revlon Colorburst – Holy Grail of Matte Red Lipstick!

I found it!

OMG! I found it and it’s perfect.

I finally found the Holy Grail of matte red lippy to suite my skin tone and not make my teeth look yellow. It’s the perfect hue of red with pinkish blue undertones that compliment my odd warm-cold colouring. Thank you, Revlon for your Colorburst Balm collection! It’s so perfect that I spent the afternoon road-testing lipstick instead of getting screenshots for my latest “Saturday Sims” build yesterday. (I’ll do that later in the week.)

I stumbled upon the Revlon Colorburst range a couple of weeks ago at Priceline (our Australian equivalent to CVS in America) and saw the display with all the pretty colours. I am naturally drawn to those sorts of “your lips but better” shades, so I aimed for a pretty mauve-ish-pink-ish-red-ish-brown-ish tone. Yesterday I just happened to be in Chemist Warehouse and saw that they had a full stock of colours on the shelf, so I grabbed two more that had caught my eye; two matte balms and one balm stain.

I love balms – I wear Lucas Pawpaw ointment on my lips all the time and I have Burt’s Bees balms coming out the wahzoo. I prefer tinted balms over lipsticks much of the time because I do get dry lips very often. Balms also tend to be more forgiving in a rushed application and you generally don’t need a lip liner or brush to apply. You get the benefit of colour and conditioned lips at the same time. But sometimes… Sometimes you just want “HELLO! COLOUR!” on your face. Tinted balms are pretty but they really don’t have that intensity.

Not Revlon Colorburst. I was pleased when I did the swatch test but I was a girly-squeal mess when I tried the colours on mah face. The colours were perfect and the texture of the product is silky smooth and light and not at all sticky like lipsticks and lip glosses can be. In fact, I pretty much forgot they were there.

The balm stains aren’t a true “stain”. They do not set on your lips as a stain as they’re sort of an odd mix of balm and gloss. That being said, they do wear very well. The matte balms colour pay-off is brilliant, even coverage and not at all drying! Having said that, I’d recommend conditioning your lips anyway just to avoid any flakies. Both formulas are not sticky at all. They go on so silky smooth and are a pleasure to wear. There’s an oh-so-slight hint of a minty perfume to them and a slight cooling sensation for a few minutes which surprised me but was nice once I got used to it.

Renlish.com - Revlon Colorburst Balms
Revlon Colorburst Balm Stain in “Adore” (550).

“Adore” (550) was the balm stain that I bought. In the bullet it looks like it would be way too dark. The balm has a dark red-brown hue which actually comes off as a deep orange due to the gold shimmer in the formula. It goes on very sheer. The photo shows a thick coat that’s been blotted and reapplied. Unfortunately the photo I took picks up very little of the goldish shimmer. It’s not overpowering and adds real warmth to the colour. Staying power of the balm stain is pretty good but worked much like any balm or gloss. It didn’t survive one meal though I did not expect it to.

Renlish.com - Revlon Colorburst Balms
Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm in “Sultry” (225)
Please excuse the wonky toothedness.

“Sultry” (225) is the mauve-ish-red-ish-pink-ish-brown-ish colour that is probably very close to the Pantone Colour of the Year, “Marsala” (which is much nicer than that freakin’ purple rubbish that “Radian Orchid” was) and wore a little darker on my lips than I thought it would when I swatched it in the shop. Either way, I still love it. It’s rich without being “in your face” colourful which makes it a very wearable shade even if you’re very fair like me.

And here ’tis… my Holy Grail…
Renlish.com - Revlon Colorburst Balms
Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm in “Standout” (250)

No words to describe how happy I am with this shade. It’s perfect. It’s HELLO RED! without making my lips look like a bee-stung mess. As I said at the beginning of this post, it’s that tone which is just right to not have teeth that look really yellow. This is “Standout” (250). I wore this shade for a good five hours straight. The colour did wear away a little bit at the corners of my mouth and faded slightly with wear but it does stay put. You’d need to reapply after a meal as it’s not a stain or similar to Revlon’s 12-hour lipsticks.

I love these to death and want more. I am clearly going to have to start wearing makeup to work so I can justify buying them.

You can get the Colorburst range for between $15.99 and $17.99 from Chemist Warehouse and Priceline.

See the full range on the Revlon website. Tell me which ones to buy next!

**Images taken indoors near a window, no flash.