A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Themes of friendship, sympathy, and loyalty run through the teen-focused story, as well as a general sense that if you can help someone in dire need, you probably should, sometimes even if it means getting in trouble yourself. Consequences accompany key decisions, forcing players to think about the choices they make. A student suicide illustrates how bullying can ruin lives.
Positive Role Models
Max is a good kid who wants to do right by other students, especially her friends. She takes risks, but typically only to help others. Many teen characters are depicted making bad decisions, from smoking and drinking to bullying and committing acts of violence.
The majority of characters are light skinned, though there are a couple of East Asian kids and a pair of Black faculty members. One of the main characters is gay.
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Ease of Play
Controls for movement and interacting with objects/talking to people are straightforward and often accompanied by on-screen prompts. Puzzles are relatively simple, and a simple rewind mechanic allows players to undo certain decisions.
Violence & Scariness
Players spend most of their time in dialogue with various characters, but a handful of key narrative scenes involve harsh violence, including characters being shot or stabbed (blood seeps from wounds) and a girl committing suicide by jumping from a roof. Some female characters are shown drugged and tied up. Sexual assault is implied but not shown.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters engage in frank discussions about sex, talking about teens sleeping with other teens as well as adults, with words like "banging," "boobs," and "porn." One character is brutally bullied for kissing several students at a party. Sexual assault is implied but not shown.
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Dialogue -- both spoken and text -- contains lots of profanity, including the words "f--k" and "s--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters -- mostly teens -- are depicted drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. Drug dealers are important characters, and a girl is forcibly given heroin.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know Life is Strange: Arcadia Bay Collection is an adventure game for Nintendo Switch comprised of the remastered editions of Life is Strange and Life is Strange: Before the Storm. These two games follow the stories of students caught up in events that involve bullying, drug dealers, sexual assault, suicide, and murder. Players take on the roles of teen girls who dig into mysteries surrounding the disappearance of a fellow student and a family secret. The girls interact with other characters -- students, faculty, family members, criminals -- and make dialogue decisions that impact the story, with key decisions that alter relationships, events, and even the conclusion. Strong themes of friendship, sympathy, and loyalty run through the plot as the girls attempt to help characters get through personal ordeals and survive violence. Some scenes may prove triggering for teen players, including a school shooting, a suicide due to bullying, and family loss. Sexual assault is implied through conversations and photographs, but not shown. Scenes of violence include fistfights and stabbing, often with a good deal of blood. Characters are depicted drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis, and one character is injected with heroin against her will. Teens talk frankly about other teens having sex -- including students with adults -- using words like "banging" and "t--s." Expect plenty of additional strong language, including "f--k."
Is It Any Good?
Acclaimed by critics and loved by players when first launched, these two games illustrate how effective interactive entertainment can be as a storytelling medium. Life is Strange: Arcadia Bay Collection weaves a pair of deftly written and twisty tales that would make for a great movie or television series. But as a game, the audience is bound to feel even more connected with the protagonists as players make decisions for them, living with the consequences, be they good, bad, or sometimes somewhere in-between. Not all choices are permanent, since Max can rewind time and Chloe is quick-witted enough to change tack mid-conversation, but once a choice is locked in and the game advances, players will be forced to bear the emotional toll of their final decisions. And many of these choices are none too easy, forcing players to consider whether someone deserves to get in trouble, whether circumstances merit committing a crime, whether the good of the one can outweigh the good of the many, and in some cases, even choose who may live or die.
There are also some fairly straightforward puzzles that need to be navigated in both games (much fewer in the second, thankfully), but the real draw here are the trials and tribulations of the people in the story, who feel genuine and relatable. Video game characters are all too often caricatures and stereotypes, but in these games they feel like they've been plucked directly from the halls of a school. Life is Strange: Arcadia Bay Collection will be tough for some kids to play since it deals with tough and traumatic issues that may strike close to home, but there's no denying its authenticity.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.