Life is Strange Episode 5 Review (PS4)

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Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix

Main Review

Review Context: I’m no stranger to interactive adventure style games. I have played the likes of Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, The Wolf Among Us, Tales From The Borderlands, and The Walking Dead.
Date of Playthrough: January 18, 2016

The final episode of the Life is Strange picks up just moments after the eye opening conclusion of the previous episode in which we find our protagonist, Max Caulfield, in her most dangerous and vulnerable position yet. The now revealed culprit is about to put the finishing touches to his sinister plans, and it’s up to her to travel back in time to not only undo the damage that’s already dealt, but to also put this culprit where he/she truly belongs, behind bars. This is her most tasking challenge yet, since failure could mean not only her death, but also the death of countless others if this killer roams free.There’s also the forthcoming climate disaster approaching Arcadia Bay; What’s causing this weird phenomenon? Will she be able to warn everyone and get them to safety? The stakes are extremely high, and our hero has quite a few burdens to carry.

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I was honestly surprised with how much this episode actually got right. For one, the dialogue is easily the best I have seen this time around; it’s very well written and consistently entertaining. Speaking of dialogue, there are two very game changing dialogue choices to be made in this episode without the option of rewinding back time to undo them, so choose wisely. Even the voice acting slightly improved; some of the most forgettable characters such as the school principal and Nathan did a decent job this time around. Maybe it was due to the fact that everyone wanted to up their game due to this being the final chapter, but I really felt more emotion and more character behind mostly everyone’s voice and I truly appreciated that. The sounds in the game are what I’ve come to expect; they are competent and they complement most situations pretty well. Also there are some very soothing, relaxing songs that play towards the end that I enjoyed. And like I always say, I highly recommend playing this game with a good pair of headphones.

The visuals are really nothing to write home about, but I have grown accustomed to them and I actually think they have some sort of uniqueness to them. If you have played the previous episodes, there is really nothing new to see here. Though I will say that there is this one night time segment involving lots of rain, fire, and destruction. I found that ironically mesmerizing, considering the despair and danger surrounding it. So yeah, these are definitely not next gen graphics, but they are not terrible by any means. The gameplay in this episode can be broken into three parts: making dialogue choices, using your time powers, and on foot segments. About sixty percent of this episode consists of sitting through dialogue, but I did not mind it one bit, since the writing was quite clever and I felt really involved as I made decisions. As far as time powers go, you are really utilizing two alterations: rewinding back time and time travel. When rewinding back time, Max can only go back to several minutes beforehand. For example, if she is in a life or death situation, she can rewind back to say about 5 minutes before, and perhaps use something in her surrounding to help her out of her current predicament. I really appreciate these moments because it shows how resourceful her powers can be in a pinch.

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Max Caulfield is only able to travel back in time by looking and focusing on pictures from her past. While this is quite impressive, it does have its limits. For one, she can only stay in that time period for several minutes before she’s thwarted back to her future. Meaning, she has to accomplish her task in that time period very quickly or nothing will change. Also, once she travels back in time, she is only able to explore the confined space seen in the picture. Say for example, the picture is in a bedroom, she would not be able to step outside said bedroom, as indicated by the colored barriers that pretty much block out anything outside that time space. I really enjoyed this dynamic and it was pretty awesome to see her change negative events to positive ones. There were not many on foot segments, but what was there really stood out. One of my favorite moments in this episode involved looking at art in, you guessed it, an art museum. There were more than a dozen to look through, and I got to say, some were pretty intriguing. Also we get to see Max’s finished project framed up as well, which was a nice finishing touch. Another standout moment involved a stealth segment in which you sneak past people while trying to reach your destination. This was a nice change of pace and lasted for just about the right amount of time before it became mundane and tedious.

There were some minor flaws here and there, and most of these issues have been plaguing this game from the start, and chances are if you’ve been keeping up with this game to this point, you probably look past them. The lip syncing is still god awful, and the awkward facial expressions during dialogue still pop up occasionally. There was even an awkward moment when a character was supposed to be talking, but their mouth would not move. This only lasted for a brief moment, only happened once, but it was still a little baffling.

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In the end, episode five was a solid conclusion to the imperfect, but still great Life Is Strange story. I really appreciated the lack of predictability with what took place; characters you thought you knew surprised you, there were  a couple twists and turns you did not see coming, and the reasoning behind the forthcoming climate disaster is mind-blowing and makes perfect sense. Minus the origin of her powers, everything was explained and came full circle, which I really applaud. Some of the choices you made had a huge impact, and one even leads to two potential endings to the game. Only one of these choices is morally right, and if you choose the other, you have no soul. While I would not say that this game is quite up to par with the games from Telltale Games as of yet, I still think it deserves to be played for the unique experience and storytelling it provides.

Similar Games Liked:
Until Dawn (PS4)
The Wolf Among Us (PS4)
Heavy Rain(PS3)
Beyond: Two Souls(PS3)
The Walking Dead: Season 1 (PS3)

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