Simple, thoughtful and delicate. That’s how I would describe the score to Life is Strange, composed by Johnathan Morali.
One of the game mechanics that I love that features wonderfully throughout the game is to just sit down and listen to Max’s inner thoughts. It really helps deepen the character and narrative of the game to give the player a moment of calm, whilst dealing with some of the heavier subjects of the game. Whilst sitting and reflecting on Max’s thoughts, the subtle and soft acoustic score really brings to life the emotions that she is going through.
The music works to portray who she is as a person; She’s a soft spoken and introverted whilst always trying to the right thing, Max is a kind and gentle soul. The stripped back and minimal instrumentation the pieces have provide the right amount of tone and emotion that doesn’t overcrowd the thoughts of Max. It creates a lovely balance of tone and that connects to the personality of Max.
These sequences appear all around the game. They can bring so much more emotional depth to the story, which many games can sometimes lack. It increases the immersion of the player into the emotion of the game to bring us closer to Max.
The music featured in the game is not completely reliant on the original score. It has an array of songs played over cutscenes and game sequences. The use of diegetic music to add depth to the characters grounds them in reality. It helps us connect with them as people we may know in our own lives. As our main characters listen to music, we as the player can get a feel for who they are from their taste. Chloe as the punk with rebellious rock music. Whilst Max as the hipster with deep thinking indie music.
Strong tracks played are Obstacles by Syd Matters and Mountains by Message to Bears. The actions you take through-out the game have consequences. Where each choice can affect the people around you. Each episode ends with an emotional montage showing the consequences of your actions. We only hear songs during these clips and their lyrics tie into the game to help hammer home their core themes. Growing up and dealing with what the world is throwing at us. This is a major theme of the game as Max and Chloe reunite and grow closer together again. The meaning of the song ‘Obstacles’ relates to the game a lot and helps hit home the emotion that little bit more.
One of the ending choices of the game, players will hear ‘Spanish Sahara’ by Foals in the emotional climax. When we see the story come full circle it becomes more and more emotional, the long crescendo of the song adds a lot. The long duration of the build up and tone of the song is perfect for the scene. With the story ending to this and my grown affection for the characters with all the choices I made. This has become one of my favourite song placements in a game.