(Warning, massive spoilers, discussions on euthanasia and suicide)
Life is Strange just keeps throwing different emotions at us with each episode!
After the experiences from Episode 2 and 3 I didn’t expect anything like Episode 4. We’re introduced to a paralyzed Chloe (whose completely different from the one we know) who ends up wheelchair-bound all because of the changes we made to save her fathers life. Within minutes the player ends up being faced with a choice that has had many people I know close to tears, to euthanize and overdose your friend so she can die happy before the condition can worsen. This has to be one of the darkest choices i’ve ever made within a game and I love and hate DontNod for giving us such a choice in a game for a character we’ve come to know and love for the personality and enjoyment she’s brought to the series.
This gives the protagonist Max plenty of ugly choices right from the beginning of the episode and takes us through a roller-coaster of events. The entire episode ends up going back and forth a lot, with the players choices not suiting the character as a whole and not making a lot of difference to the entire story. It felt more like a set-up for the final episode (which I’m not entirely against or for) as it made the episode feel a bit pointless in itself. While Episode 2 was filled with emotional trauma and gave Max so much character backstory as well as making her more emotionally lovable, and Episode 3 showing the closeness between two friends and the love for one another as well as the bond between Chloe and Max if they’d been able to spend more time together.
Episode 4 brings forth a darker and more grim sense of things not just at the school, but all around Max’s town! It explores all the issues from the previous episodes, what’s happened to many girls and not just Rachel and Kate in the local area, in addition to the corrupt family which seems to be pulling all the strings. Everything is very cleverly connected, but is messed up by another poorly-explained picture puzzle. When you connect the evidence together it’s time consuming, tedious and frankly annoying, Especially when you can’t even see the pictures correctly.
The ending of the episode came to a great finale that left me wanting more again, I was confused at the events which had occurred and constantly questioning why everything was happening and if there really is any way that this game can end on a positive note. The game itself has become one of the most unsettling i’ve ever played where all the enjoy-ability and fun from the first episode appears to have been sucked out and replaced with a panicked, scared protagonist who is just as confused as us to what’s going on.
I am still finding the game a positive player experience that’s experimenting with players emotions and trying to find the right balance of what players want within a videogame where their choices are apparent. Yet DontNod still struggle to find the correct way to portray and show off the character in the correct light and this episode proved they still have a lot to learn with their character design.
This episode had an incredibly strong start that made the player feel downright terrible for their choices throughout the game and become an emotional trainwreck, unfortunately this didn’t spill into the rest of the episode which became more tedious through its puzzles and poor episode preparation. The game is beginning to feel a bit drawn out, yet the sense of intrigue is still there with a few interesting segments through the episode which kept you on your toes, as well as the haunting ending which left my jaw wide open. I can’t wait to finish this series!
6.5 – 7 / 10