Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Review Context: I love Interactive adventure games. I have played Beyond: Two Souls, The Wolf Among Us, The Walking Dead, and Heavy Rain.
Date of Playthrough: November 3, 2015
The previous episode of Life Is Strange hit many high notes and ended with a shocking cliffhanger, which left me eagerly anticipating the next installment. Right off the heels of the events surrounding the last episode, Max Caulfied is left to deal with the dire consequences of her actions. Using her newly gained time travel powers, she chose to travel back in time to prevent a tragic event from taking place, in hopes of acquiring a more preferable future. While she was successful in preventing the unforeseen accident, another tragedy befell one of her closest friends as a result, which finds her immediately regretting her decision. Pressure is mounting and emotions are at an all time high, as our protagonist not only has to find a way to undo her time travel fiasco, but she also has to find out who is behind the terrible wrongdoings surrounding her school, and figure out the best way to warn everyone of the eventual climate disaster heading straight to her city. So did this episode build on the solid one before it, or is this an unfortunate misstep?
This episode chose to forgo tense gameplay segments in favor of personal situations and drama heavy moments, and for the most part, it worked remarkably well. The writing is the best it’s ever been; I found myself hanging on to every word, and amazed at how thought-provoking some of the dialogue choices were. While you can rewind time to redo your choices, the effects are not always immediately made clear, so I found myself carefully exploring my options in hopes of avoiding an unfavorable situation. While the problematic lip syncing still rears it’s ugly head, the presentation is solid. While the graphics are not exactly next gen, I love the the mixture of color palettes and 3-D models used for the characters and environments. I found that they really gave the game a distinct look and feel. Also I appreciated the variety in environments I got to explore; not only did I get to explore an abandoned barn, I also got to peek around a secret torture room, and interact with students in a school party. As always, the sounds in the game do not disappoint. I sometimes found myself humming to a tune Max was listening to, and the perfect placement of sounds during the more critical moments never ceased to amaze me. While they both have inherent flaws, both the presentation and soundtrack get the job done.
If you have played the previous episodes in this series, you know what to expect gameplay wise. The activities you partake in consist of engaging in dialogue, looking for clues, using your time powers, and making important decisions. My favorite segment in this episode involved putting gathered clues together in hopes of solving the Blackwell Academy scandal. This section was very intuitive and although it did not make my brain explode, I appreciated the ounce of brain power I had to utilize to put these clues together. Another segment worth speaking on involved exploring an abandoned barn. You get to use your time alternating powers in a very creative way here, which was pretty clever and also some shocking revelations are made, which I will not speak on to avoid spoilers. Although I enjoyed the gameplay overall, the pacing was a little slow for my taste. I found myself craving more excitement. Some edgy or exciting action sequences could have gone a long way here.
All in all, the fourth episode of Life Is Strange was a solid one. I would have liked more exciting situations and more interesting secondary characters, but the overall execution was strong enough to overlook these flaws. The culprit behind the scandal is finally revealed in the most unexpected way, which leads to arguably the most controversial and jaw dropping ending thus far. There is only one episode left and I cannot wait to see how this tale concludes.
Similar Games Liked:
Heavy Rain (PS3)
The Wolf Among Us (PS3)
The Walking Dead Game (PS3)
Beyond:Two Souls (PS3)
Tales From The Borderlands (PS4)