As I dived into the penultimate episode of Life is Strange, I was reminded of how the narrative drove me to the very bizarre and jaw dropping ending from the previous episode. The episode starts off right away and for about twenty minutes you just feel absolutely terrible seeing the consequences of the actions that the game made you take- and when you’re not busy feeling like an emotional wreck, the game brings in heavy helpings of tension.
As previously mentioned in my time with the third episode, the game felt like it was pushing me towards a certain narrative point more so than guiding me, making my choices feel like they didn’t matter as much as they had previously. Episode 4 feels that it gives some of that control back to the player while at the same time, driving the narrative even harder as the story ramps up towards its conclusion. I know that may sound contradictory, but I feel like the choices you can make in episode 4 are bigger than episode 3 and part of that is probably due to the nature and tone of the episode.
In this installment, Max and Chloe play detective and get even closer to finding out what happened to Rachel Amber. In fact, there is even a section that lets you piece together clues you’ve found, making you need to link them together to find out how everything is connected. It took me a bit of time, but the more I looked at all of the pieces of the puzzle to work towards its solution, the more I felt I understood the whole picture of not just the mystery of Rachel Amber, but the world in which the game is set.
Episode 4, titled “Dark Room” is fitting for a few reasons, but mostly because of how much darker the tone of the story feels now. After sorting out all of the clues I mentioned above, you start to really get the hard facts about what has been happening in Arcadia Bay and until the end of the episode, all of the characters became quite tense. Hell, I was even tense going through the Vortex Club party, finally having a feeling of what I needed to do, and feeling like a bad-ass on a mission. Even everyone that I interacted with at the party was saying “Hey Max… wow you look like you’re on a mission”. Damn right!
Of course, it wouldn’t be Life is Strange without a shocking ending, and sure enough, DONTNOD delivered again. The endings for each episode have gotten more cryptic and jaw dropping with each installment and Dark Room’s ending is going to make the wait for the final episode all the more difficult to tolerate.
The next write up for Life is Strange will be a full season one review so make sure to check back after the final episode drops!