Because Life Is Strange is, essentially, Girlhood. With the added twist of having the one super power every adult wishes they had after the fact. With the push of a button, you can take back stupid decisions.
Oh, and, of course, save her town from getting destroyed by pants-pissingly scary tornado. But, that's a digression.
The difference between Life Is Strange and the other games in its genre is that with exceptions pertaining to the overarching plot of why Max has time powers and what is it she's seeing when she blanks out, her decisions feel universal and real insteead of contextual and specific. The little moments and memories that make up a teenager's crux year now feel malleable and fluid in the way life could never allow, and games really don't explore often enough.
It all starts with the opening credits, a narrated walk down a crowded high school hallway between periods, where you can hear Max's thoughts on everyone. She's just started at this place, and has only really gotten close to two-ish people, though a few casual acquaintances are around. Max is painfully awkward and shy, but she is observant. Helpful, since she wants to be a photographer. So, this walk down the hall is a litany of names and attributes and possibilities. This is our window into her world. It's something of a genius way to learn everything we need to know about Max's school and Max herself, without wasting a second. It's also an instant way to know who to nudge Max towards, the regrets she'll have, the influences and urges she should probably avoid. The game hasn't paid them off yet, but then, we've only just started.
We do get some development, though, and my favorite one here is shortly after the class rich bitch, Juliet, ends up covered in paint in an effort to get her and her brainless posse out of blocking Max's way into her own dorm. Now, you COULD be a total dick to her and run away screaming. The option is given, however, to simply not. You don't make an instant friend out of her. You simply kill with kindness, the simple idea that she and Max got off on the wrong foot. And the option to rewind and replay that scenario as needed if your hindsight is 20/20. It's a friendship that could be, the kind of friendship you end up kicking yourself in the ass for not creating down the road. Who knows if we see Max later in life, and who she's still friends with, but the typical long-reach decision making of this genre still gives us plenty of opportunity to play around with these relationships.
Which brings us to the real main event, which is Max's relationship with her best friend Chloe. Life Is Strange as an arc truly starts the second Max latches onto the fact that this girl, who we save early on in the episode from a rich asshole's bullet, is Max's best friend, and she didn't even recognize her, thanks to a new blue dye job, and an alternative punky outlook on life. There's no rewinding the fact that Max hadn't spoken to this girl in years, and there's no way to keep Chloe from being bitter about that. What matters is how you intend on fixing it, and the game allows Max to play Gone Home a little bit here, catching up on missing years when she's allowed to explore Chloe's house. Gone Home's same feeling of familiarity with complete strangers is here. Max has a plethora of memories of this place, of being with Chloe as preteens, and now, it almost feels like an alien place to her. There's a perfectly handled bit where Max sits on the family couch, and thinks back on a memory of her and Chloe spilling wine on the carpet, and the mocap of someone so comfortable and yet so out of sorts is more affecting than ever. Again, just like Gone Home, the game feels universal; it's a safe bet the experience of sitting someplace you grew up in, and feeling completely uncomfortable is somewhere in everyone's mind, and the game handles it perfectly.
There's plot going on as well. Some drama involving Chloe's drug deal/blackmail gone wrong, a rich kid's stranglehold on the town, and Max's burgeoning powers needing an answer. But right now, that feels like something far off, something to disrupt the everyday problems that are about to get worse. Right now, I want to keep hanging out with Max. I want to make sure 18 doesn't suck for her. And after only about 2 hours of gameplay, that's an impressive feat.