Developer: Dontnod Entertainment, Publisher: Square Enix
Released: July 18th, 2018
Tested on: Razer Phone, Android 7.0
It’s always exciting to see a fully-fledged game release available on your mobile device’s marketplace, especially if it is a port of the game you’ve enjoyed on PC throughout the last couple of years. There’s something remarkable about being able to play a PC release in the palm of your hand, even more so if there was no downgrade in the process. Life is Strange marks one of these rare cases where the mobile port is so good, I may never go back to the PC version, as the platform is more adept to play action-heavy games on. If I want to relax and game on my phone, Life is Strange offers a compelling story-rich experience that will be engaging throughout long stretches of time. With fluid controls, excellent graphics and rewarding story content, Life is Strange arrives on Android in shining colors, and delivers the quality few mobile titles can match. And the fact that it’s one of the best episodic adventure games on the PC and consoles makes it even even more sweet.
Note: this is not a full-feature review but my impressions with the Android port of the game, which released a few months ago.
Life is Strange is an episodic adventure featuring teen drama, time powers and many intense story moments that will have you gripping the phone in your hands to keep up with them. The first episode is available to download entirely for free, after which in the game’s episode selection screen you can acquire additional story bits. Or you can purchase the entire season pass for $12 and unlock all episodes at once, which is usually the best course of action. This is the full-feature version of the game, and having the first episode free just like with the PC version gives new players an opportunity to try the title out. And you certainly wouldn’t be disappointed, as Life is Strange received much critical acclaim since its release.
So how does the Android version hold up? Surprisingly, better than I expected, considering the game runs on Unreal Engine 4 here. You’d want to have some serious hardware though to get the most of it, although a moderate system will suffice as well. Square Enix lists minimum requirements of Android 6.0 and Open GL 3.1. For hardware, you need to pack an ARM64 processor and at least 2GB of RAM. System requirements are not unreasonable by any means, but the game definitely benefits most from higher end handsets. Screenshots provided were captured on Razer Phone, which is one of the flagship handsets you’d want to see Life is Strange at its best.
I came away from playing the port very impressed, and from the very start, Life is Strange set high expectations to hold the experience to. There’s a certain novelty in expecting a mobile port to underperform, and thankfully I didn’t have that here once I’ve first seen it. Life is Strange looks spectacular on a phone screen, and despite limited screen estate, the detail shows in everything. It is easily one of the best looking games to currently see on Android, and offers a triple A gaming experience on the go. Fluid transitions between cutscenes and gameplay, smooth framerate and detailed visuals showcase the effort gone into the mobile port, and make it feel exactly like the bigger versions. Life is Strange showcases the visual capabilities of mobile handsets and establishes itself among the most visually striking games on the system.
The controls have been adapted well to touchscreen devices, featuring multiple layouts to aid players in customizing individual experience. Simple tap controls allow to submerge deeper into the storytelling, and only require minor action from the player. For more involved gamers, a joystick layout gives a familiar setup with two virtual sticks for movement and camera located in each corner of the screen. Regardless of your preferred control method, the game’s slow pacing integrates well into the touchscreen controls, avoiding frustrating controls of some 3D action games. Every object you can interact with can be tapped on, after which a choice of action will be displayed in front of the item. It is an intuitive system and doesn’t complicate controls any further, which is a considerable plus. I personally preferred the joystick layout for tactility and smooth response, but the game is enjoyable either way.
Life is Strange can be a bit of a storage hog, taking up almost a full 5GB. This isn’t much for modern flagship phones, and you get the best game experience at the same time. Full cutscenes have been ported over, backed by superb sound and voiceover. Square Enix hasn’t skimmed on bringing Life is Strange to the Android platform, and to some extent, I feel like I’m playing a better version of the game than I did on PC. It showcases how far mobile devices have come, where you can now enjoy console-like experience with no visual downgrade. Given that up until now Android users have mostly been treated to ports of much older PC games, the fairly recent Life is Strange brings a wow factor to the audience. You do want a sizeable screen (5.5” and above) and decent hardware to run it, but you wouldn’t be disappointed in the slightest by what you’re getting.
There are few complaints to level at Life is Strange, as it is a solid Android port through and through, however close inspection revealed a few things to discuss. Paying close attention to cutscenes, there is a considerable amount of lip synching issues going on and notable delay in character dialogue transitioning to animation. It isn’t significant in the overall picture unless you’re specifically looking for it, and otherwise cutscenes hold up exceptionally. Camera doesn’t control the smoothest, and while can be adjusted for sensitivity in the game’s settings, still doesn’t scroll as smoothly as I’d like. This comes as a general drawback of touchscreen controls, but here I felt it was overall the slowest. Other than that, Life is Strange is an exceptional port, and shows great potential for the platform to receive full PC ports in the future.
With developing power of mobile APIs, gamers have been treated to many high quality ports of PC games available on iOS and Android marketplaces. Life is Strange showcases one of the best PC releases making its way to have an Android version, and gives casual players an opportunity to experience one of the best story-based adventures. It brings everything the bigger versions have with no downgrade, and looks fantastic visually. The slow pacing of Life is Strange makes it a perfect game to kick back and relax to with your phone, and it’s sizeable runtime will leave players with plenty of time to kill. Life is Strange is one of the best episodic adventures on PC and consoles, and it’s emotional story is well worth experiencing. For those not sure about buying it, the first episode is available to download at no cost, but with multiple awards and high praise, the game itself is a must have.
Any game that makes me relive any aspect of high school has to try hard to make me like it. I kept thinking I might check out Life is Strange at some point, but I never get around to it, probably for this reason. Still, nice to see PC games getting Android ports.