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.