REVIEW – October 21, 7 PM. My thoughts are still all flying all around in my head. I know that this game might have become revolutionary. I also know that while the finale comes with loose storylines (effectively leaving some of them unfinished), Dontnod still has become a great developer. I still don’t know how to write down my opinion though…
October 20, 7:30 AM. Hey, Polarized is available. I started to play at 8:30 AM or so and wow. After the fourth episode, I expected another time travelling segment, but oh god no… photo focus minigames again, at least four times! Thankfully, these seem to have become easier for the finale… but let’s start at the beginning.
You were a prisoner, you are a prisoner
So Max gets to the Dark Room, and depending on our decisions, we might also see Victoria there, or not. The photographer has pumped another dose of drugs into us, so we don’t remember anything. Hey, look, a photo of our drugged self on the trolley. Photo focus. Story exposition! Time jump. Another image drops in front of us – blame the lead editor for not really allowing me to be a bit more exact on… subjects, oh, what a pun -, another photo focus. Crack, we’re at the start of the week.
You will be a prisoner
The base concept turns into a false illusion, a painful trip. We change the present in the past, but despite knocking the antagonist out of the picture (literally?), the biggest problem, namely, the tornado is still hitting Arcadia Bay, while Max is in San Francisco, and since this is an unacceptable scenario, we will have to change time yet again. (So this is the third focusing part, and we’re about 40% in the episode I think.) However, we will become prisoners again.
This is where I think the story detailing might turn a bit hard to follow, but we will be in the past again, an unexpected character will drop in, and then an unfinished storyline follows in the storm. Why wasn’t Dontnod able to tie this up properly? I know, it’s an apocalypse – for Arcadia Bay, at least -, but they should have given more attention to this. And this is where I was right: there is going to be a good use to the photo from earlier (photo focus part four, folks!).
We’re trying to change the outcome of an event AGAIN, and then suddnely, a hairpin turn happens. Max, if you are reading this, you are DEAD. It’s about time somebody finally killed Chloe. Welcome to the limbo, your own personal hell. It’s your fault. Yours. YOURS. Endless corridors await.
.esrever ni gnitirw ylneddus m’I ?!levartemiT
Another thing jumps in, which should have been slightly more elaborated in my opinion. It should have been given more than two or three minutes early in the game, although it might just be my own personal stupidity and thus I don’t understand the appearance at this point.
And this is the point where the entire game picks up a new line. We are now in a cat-mouse game, while those certain photos of subjects are framed on the walls. This is where the game is playing with us, with our minds, while we are looking for the way out. We are dead. Are we dead? We are in our own hell. Maxine Caulfield is dead. The game starts to throw all of our sins into our face. All of them. Without an exception. This segment of Life is Strange is designed extraordinarily nicely. How do we get out? Don’t kill us, Max? Which Max? Another twist in the entire event. While we are in a limbo, we have face OURSELVES. Meanwhile, the game is playing with our minds like a piano…
Road to nowhere
And if this wasn’t all enough, you have to walk one last time, while you get a recap of your decisions and storylines you have been in. All of a sudden, blam, we will have to make one final decision. While there was already a decision to make earlier at one occasion (or two, in fact), but this one is going to be the most painful. I’m going to be brutally honest. Both decisions and their outcomes made me cry. First I cried while Max was driving to Two Whales in the storm with that painfully fantastic song. Moments like this make a game a unique experience. So, one decision…
Two decisions, two results. I think one of them was hastily slapped together. Okay, I understand that some characters cannot be seen in this ending, but seriously, it should have been given a bit more elaboration. There should have been an epilogue. (And the music will be familiar from a previous episode, it’s still fantastic.)
The other ending wasn’t fully fleshed out either. This cannot be masked away with another absolutely teardropping song – even thinking of it makes me tearing up – , and sadly, these things kick down the game from a very near to perfect rating.
I’m the fury in your head
Yeah, let’s just say that I took a different approach to this review. About the graphics, I should say that the subtitles aren’t timed perfectly to the audio at several occasions, and about the sound, I have to point out that while it was very good up to now, it has risen to perfection here. There aren’t many songs, but they all kick ass. This can also be said of Tales from the Borderlands, but I don’t want to go into detail here, because I will review that game as well. Controls are fine, but some decisions don’t seem to have a big effect overall.
For example, Kate‘s faith (yes, intentional pun) seems to have absolutely NO bigger change on the story. While I saved her, and she was very grateful for helping her at almost every given occasion, in the guilt segment of Polarized, she was still extremely critical towards me, eventually seeing her fall to her… doom? Also, Nathan, he pretty much disappears here. So these also took the rating a bit lower.
It should be on the shelf for every gamer
I have read that the ending of Life is Strange is rushed together. I agree with that, but my rating in the end of the review is for the ENTIRE GAME in a subjective manner. I also read that it was labeled as a hipster game by some, and while I also agree with it, I myself am a strange person to an extent, although I’m not a hipster. It fits the game though. The butterfly effect comes home, from the trash can to the coffin.
This game should be on your shelves, especially if you can throw your bias towards episodic games away. In this genre, Dontnod has created something new. They defeated the monopoly of Telltale. Walking Dead’s throne is now used by the duo of Max and Chloe. Although we see Fiona and Rhys running towards it, the end result will have to be seen until I’m done with the Tales from the Borderlands review. I am glad to say that Life is Strange a brilliant game. An excellent product that has a slow start, but it wins by a landslide in the end.
Nous avons un nouveau roi dans la ville…
+ It plays with us like a damn fiddle with some psychological terror twists
+ Several alternate timelines, with one purpose
+ Remarkable audio all around
– Some loose storylines!
– The endings feel a bit rushed
– Some decisions seem to have almost zero effect…
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Genre: Episodic game
Relase date: October 20, 2015 (PS4, PS3)