Life Is Strange (Episode 4: The Dark Room) – PC
Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: July 28, 2015
Nerd Rating: 10 out of 10
Not since the Mass Effect trilogy has a game had such an emotional impact on me. Once again, I find myself at the mercy of DONTNOD’s irresistible narrative experience, Life Is Strange. Story-wise, there’s just no contest. I always find it difficult to start discussing the story because I’m blindsided by how richly intense everything is. There’s so much to talk about when it comes to this game. It started off innocent enough, but as the episodes are being released, the plot descends into darker territories of story-telling. DONTNOD has stated before that they spent a majority of their budget of writing and character development, and good golly does it show.
The Dark Room starts off exactly where Chaos Theory ended. Max Caulfield is finding out in harsh way just exactly how her powers can significantly change the course of other people’s destinies as well as her own. Max and her partner in blue hair, Chloe, are closer than ever to solving the mystery that shrouds Blackwell Academy: Rachel Amber’s disappearance, Kate Marsh’s reasons for attempted suicide, and whatever Nathan Prescott is hiding are all addressed in this extremely emotional and well-written episode. I won’t spoil anything here, but the end results are disturbing, shocking, and very thought-provoking. I’m actually quite jealous; I wish I could come up with a story this creative and original.
Life Is Strange continues to do an exquisite job of capturing autumn in the Pacific Northwest in all of its atmospheric splendor. This game is just gorgeous. And speaking of gorgeous, Max and Chloe look fantastic, and lip syncing has improved since the last episodes. Some of the minor characters still suffer from “dead-eyed syndrome,” where the character’s eyes resemble that of a lifeless carp, but because they’re only minor characters, I don’t care too much.
In previous reviews, I know that I have mentioned bugs. In past episodes there have been problems with held items being suspended in the air while Max uses her rewind power, or even one time she was stuck in the ground until I restarted the game over. With The Dark Room, however, I’ve had zero gameplay issues.
Life Is Strange calls for your patience in order to progress the plot effectively and get the best outcome. You have to say the right things to some people, for example, there’s a very intense scene where Max and Chloe ask the local drug dealer, Frank, for a list of his clients to help them solve a part of the mystery. Depending on how things go down, no one will get hurt, Frank gets a knife stuck in his leg, or Chloe will accidentally shoot and kill Frank along with his dog. I spent a long time on this section because different sequences of dialogue will either set Frank off or will sound reasonable to him. Actions in the previous episodes can also hinder or help your chances of success in this scene.
After thinking about this episode and the game in general over the past couple of weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that Life Is Strange is the most important game of the year. And that doesn’t mean that I’m saying it’s necessarily the best one or the most fun, I’m saying it’s the most important one because of what it delivers story-wise, and its commentary on life. What would we change if we could rewind time? What do we consider to be real art? What drives people to do the bad or good things that they do?
Everyone needs to play Life Is Strange at least once, because it has something to say for everyone. The Dark Room has set the bar extremely high and I have all the confidence that episode five will deliver when it finally arrives sometime in September.
Share This Post