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Life is Strange: Episode 4 (Xbox One) Review

 
Life-Is-Strange-episode-4-review
Life-Is-Strange-episode-4-review
Life-Is-Strange-episode-4-review

 
At A Glance...
 

Formats: PC, PS4 & Xbox One
 
Genre:
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer:
 
Final Score
8.0
8/ 10


User Rating
1 total rating

 

We Liked?


  • Some moral and ethical subjects handled in a surprisingly adult way that transcend the genre
  • Well woven and interesting story with characters that are finally becoming 'human'
  • Still a great look that suffers from a few technical issues here and there
  • More than most games in this interactive narrative genre, decisions hold series weight
  • Much faster pace to this episode after the lengthy episode before

Not So Much?


  • Not the longest of episode thanks to the faster pace - this is a consequence rather than a real negative
  • Couple of technical glitches here and there and I'd appreciate texture pop-in to no longer be a thing in 2015
  • Few frustrating moments of random clicking in the middle portion of the game and a rubbish keypad puzzle that feels like it's only purpose is padding


Final Fiendish Feelings?

Adult themes, mature choices and possibly the best episode of the series to date!

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Posted September 1, 2015 by

 
Final Fiendish Feelings?
 
 

Life is Strange has been a real slow burner for me. The initial episode in DontNod’s teen-based drama serial left me a little jaded and cold. Sure I gave it a moderate to good score and said it had potential as long as the developers cleaned up the generic teenage angst storyline and stopped using the word ‘hella’. It just never fully engaged me on a personal level.

As the series has slowly progressed DontNod have managed to take on the criticisms that swam around the first episode or two. What they have now is a surprisingly well crafted and adult themed story driven adventure title. Can they continue to push this series as we take a look at the penultimate episode in this outing for Max Caulfield?

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What DontNod have managed to create with this episode, entitled Dark Room, is creating a swirl of intrigue not only in the life of Max and her unusual powers, but what happens to the world when Max plays with time and consequence. You actually take an interest in her social conversations, you want to know how the characters are moving on from the last time we met with them. It’s not just teenagers moaning about rules and life being unfair anymore.

Max is faced with some truly weighty decisions in this episode. More than a few times I had to drop my control to my lap and consider what I wanted to achieve – what Max would actually do and how I actually might react in some of these horrific situations Max finds herself in.

As well as Max’s powers and her best friend Chloe’s current predicament (no spoilers here) you are trying to get to the bottom of the mysterious and distasteful Vortex Club and it’s hand in what happen to Kate. Layered on top of this again is what might have happened to local girl Rachel Amber…. all these things come to a head in this episode.

The title handles the pacing much better this time out. Episode 3 felt a little bloated and dragged out in places but Dark Room rattles through at a tremendous pace. This may possibly be the shortest episode on the series so far though so the wonderful pacing has come at some cost.

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The game still looks great, if a little stylized and muddy in places. Animation is still a little stiff, yet still beyond the action-figure motions of the Telltale series. There’s a reasonable amount of texture pop-in and I had the odd geometry hitch and one system lock-up during play.

Voice work has improved greatly over the series as well with some rich characters starting to emerge. That said there’s still work to be done making some of the voice work more natural. A large hitch in previous titles has been the stilted and less than realistic portrayal of teenage life and parlance in the script. There’s a few nods to this early in the episode and a vast improvement has taken place making some of the cringeworthy lines of the past a distant memory.

Screenshot5

Final Thoughts

Life is Strange: Dark Room is possibly the best episode to date in this blossoming series. In some ways it’s going to be a shame when the series comes to a close in a month or so. DontNod seem to be really hitting their stride as the months progress. With luck Square Enix will see the value in a second season.

As for Dark Room it’s full of well paced sequences that are still very light on the actual adventure.puzzle elements. What you’re left with is a well told entwined story that would likely be at home on a TV channel but far less effective and engaging. The beauty of this medium is that you can inhabit the world along with your character and the world that Max and her friends find themselves in right now is very interesting indeed.

Everything is perfectly positioned for a nail-biting conclusion in the very next episode. The cliffhanger ending from Dark Room is possibly the only thing I’d list as a downpoint but that’s more to do with me recognising the signs very early on rather than an actual fault with the episode itself.

If you’ve yet to pick-up Life is Strange then Dark Room is NOT the place for you to start. Do yourself a massive favour and grab the entire season – you owe it to yourself to see how the series grows and settles into the rhythm it currently enjoys. If you’ve already been following the series the Life is Strange: Dark Room should be on your ‘to-buy’ list asap!


Zeth

 
Zeth is our EU ninja and Editor in Chief. He's been writing about video games since 2008 when he started on BrutalGamer. He's pretty old and has been a gamer since he played Space Invaders as a young boy in the 80's. His genre tastes lean towards platformers, point-and-click adventure, action-adventure and shooters but he'll turn his hand to anything.