As we wrote in the interview with Katy Bentz and Mallory Littleton, Stephanie "Steph" Gingrich turned out to be an interesting secondary character in Life is Strange, to the point of becoming a thicker supporting character in Life is Strange: True Colors. This, evidently, was not enough for Deck Nine, who also wanted to dedicate the Wavelengths DLC to her, set a year before the main events and which leads us to discover Steph's slow acclimatization in the small community of Haven Springs.
Hers is a character that has allowed the developers to wander on different themes: she is a lesbian, so she allows Deck Nine to touch on an always delicate theme; she is a lover of tabletop role-playing games, which gives that nerdy touch that is never out of place; more importantly, he lived in Arcadia Bay before and especially during the events of the original Life is Strange. If there is anyone who can act as a leitmotif, offering us another point of view on events and characters, it is her.
Is it successful? We can say yes, without reservations. Wavelengths is a story that starts slowly and grows progressively, just like Steph's life in Haven Springs: it has to acclimatise and therefore proceeds gradually, with small and often uncertain steps until it finds its space and closes the circle, reconnecting with the first meeting with Alex during the True Colors events. The most particular aspect of this DLC is that everything is set inside the record shop: you never get out of there, yet the exploration is always profitable, offering us new details on the various characters of True Colors, returned to us through another lens that is, however, in a certain sense, common to that of Alex. Inhabitants and citizens are filtered through the eyes of a stranger, just like Gabe's sister.
The end result is a pleasant introspection that mixes with the daily work as a DJ and record shop clerk, a combination in which Steph's nerdest part can once again find space: if you are wondering how it is possible to adapt the role play within the confined space of a shop, you just have to keep reading.
Before getting to the heart of this review di Life is Strange: Wavelengths, a tip: the narrative is appreciated much more if you have played the original Life is Strange, since the references are not lacking, regardless of the final choice. Playing this DLC without having experienced Arcadia Bay will certainly not convey the same emotions as those who know previous events.
New life in Haven Springs
Picking up from the previous paragraphs, Wavelengths opens with Steph ready for her new job in Haven Springs: DJ and shop assistant that belonged to a woman now retired for some time. Over the span of a year, which will be covered through some highlights, Steph will have to familiarize himself with his role and settle into a community ready to welcome her with open arms. We, on the other hand, will discover what the words of Katy Bentz and Mallory Littleton have already suggested, namely that behind his dazzling smile and always "cool" air, Steph's emptiness is much larger than it is. can believe.
We would like to talk about it in detail, but we would end up ruining the experience: we limit ourselves to saying that, in particular in its bond with the original Life is Strange, Wavelengths once again manages to hit where the adventures of Max and Chloe have impressed the most. We personally made a precise choice, at the time, which we never regretted nor did we think of reloading to see what would have happened otherwise: already with Before the Storm, Deck Nine has outlined characters who made that decision a bit heavier, but it is with Wavelengths that it definitely sinks.
Steph lived through those moments and we can say that he suffers from PTSD, something that we would not have expected from his character. Yet it is there, ready to re-emerge when least expected, opening a series of scenarios and conversations that in their introspection give even more depth to the choice made at the time.
The beauty of Wavelengths is just that: the conversations. Throughout the course of the DLC, Steph will never be seen with anyone and all his interactions will take place via smartphone messages, computer and calls during DJ sessions. It is as if the record store detaches itself from reality while continuing to be part of it: no one enters, no one leaves, although it is obvious that behind the scenes this happens - Steph certainly does not sleep in the store and records do not sell for nothing. Step by step, his character is deepened and we players are invited in his daily life, between the repetitive DJ tasks and the unpredictability of a D20: we told you, Deck Nine has found a way to implement D&D here too, partly with a regular session to prepare for remote play but, above all, thanks to Steph's role as fortune teller. Following her first call, she is jokingly (or perhaps not) deemed capable of predicting the future and from that moment on, spectators will call her to have predictions made: the answer will first be established by the launch of the D20, following the which will open up two possibilities to follow, which Steph will narrate letting the imagination run wild, but remaining within the context of the situation undergone.
As funny as it is on the one hand, this DJ / spectator dialogue always touches serious themes for good or bad: on the day of Pride, one of the characteristic moments of this DLC, we will listen for example to a sorry father who talks about the evening when his son has come out; on another occasion there will be talk of potential harassment at work; again, a grandson who does not know how to react to the all too important gift given to him by his grandmother. The situations are different and, little by little, we understand how that little corner born for fun has become a staple for many people, who call to look for a comparison and perhaps some comfort in our words. However, this will be up to us, because the die gives a direction but one extreme or the other will still be up to us to decide.
Beyond the DJ duties, there are personal notes to follow within the DLC, which contribute to further shaping Steph and her relationship with the other characters, but also with herself. There is the component dating sim, where you have to scroll through potential interesting people via a dating app and from there decide whether or not they are the right ones for us. Considering that with each new context they change, the number of candidates is considerable and we do not know how many have an effective response with us (all of them certainly not, the possibilities obviously increase with the interests in common): if there were, you can start a conversation which, depending on when you start it, can extend to the end of the DLC.
We underlined it in the interview and we repeat it here, Deck Nine's approach to the theme ofhomosexuality - and not only that, in the LGBTQ + environment - it is natural, fluid, no forcing is perceived. Steph is a lesbian and does not hide it but this aspect is not exacerbated: even the choice to introduce Pride as a key moment among those of the DLC is not a wink as an end in itself, but offers further insight into Steph and his past relationships, while giving the opportunity to introduce situations (see that of the father mentioned above) without making them appear convenient. Not that certain speeches must necessarily be addressed during Pride, but precisely because it wants to be a celebratory occasion, it makes sense to make it become the sounding board for some conversations in the game.
Overall, Wavelengths has a staid pace, is much more narrative than the main game and rightly so because it has been specially developed around a character to make him better known. Although it is set only inside the record store, the repetitiveness never comes to us because the gap between one period and another, with the consequent changes, always pushes us to look around to see how, little by little, the shop is becoming what we met in Life is Strange: True Colors. It's a slow one closing of the circle, which starts from Arcadia Bay and ends with the arrival of Alex in Haven Springs, dictating the progressive evolution of Steph and his awareness towards certain situations. Once again, even more than in the basic game, music is king: we are the DJs and we always choose the rhythm of the day, as well as composing our own very personal song that we can enjoy in the final stages of the game. The only thing that is a bit out of place is the short transition between entering and leaving the DJ room: the black cut and above all the interruption of the music create a small, but felt disconnect from what otherwise transforms almost immediately. in a pleasant everyday life.
CommentTested version PlayStation 5 Digital Delivery Steam, PlayStation Store, Xbox Store Resources4Gaming.com
Analyzed for what it is, that is a purely narrative additional content that still manages to introduce small elements of gameplay, Life is Strange: Wavelengths proves to be an excellent DLC. The character of Steph is deepened in several aspects, even the most tragic that are linked to Arcadia Bay, and at the same time allows the developers to address different themes. Among the characters presented in Life is Strange: True Colors, she was the only one so all-encompassing and the end result is a slower game, more restricted in the setting (limited to the record store) but no less pleasant. Deck Nine draws a circle that starts from the original Life is Strange and closes with it, reconnecting to the adventures of Chloe and Max better than Life is Strange 2 did and offering us a glimpse of those moments that mark the consequences even more deeply. of a particular choice. If leaving and entering the DJ room had been uninterrupted it would have been even better, however the small disconnect that is created does not disturb the game too much.
- A thorough insight into Steph's character
- Can handle the absence of face-to-face interactions well
- The gameplay is stripped down but in its small way it's enjoyable
- Shame about the interruption when entering and exiting the DJ room
- His very staid pace may not be appreciated by everyone