It’s hard to believe we’re only just reaching the penultimate episode of Life Is Strange, given that this journey began back in January. DONTNOD Entertainment has well and truly gotten their claws into me to the point where I instantly want more after each episode. Now it’s time to get stuck into “Dark Room” and see if it can keep up the great storytelling but also maybe add a few decent puzzles to make it more tasking for the average gamer.
Let me dial it back at bit, to the end of “Chaos Theory”. Wow, that was an ending no one saw coming right? It was unimaginable at the time, that saving the life of one person in the past could lead to Chloe effectively having her world turned upside down, seeing her left wheelchair bound. We all want to know, how on earth did it happen? And more importantly, what can Max do next to make things better, if anything?
It was a bold opening to episode four, with the gamer expected to take in a whole lot of story throughout the first half hour or so. There weren’t any real objectives except to listen and if you wished to, make additional observations of your own about Chloe and her family’s situation based on the little pieces on information dotted around. It’s testament to the developers that they kept my interest with pure, heart wrenching, storytelling and made me feel for the characters. I had to keep reminding myself it wasn’t real!
As for the rest of the tale, it adds to multiple subplots and many of the questions it has brought to the fore of your mind are beginning to get answers. Especially when it comes to figuring out what the Dark Room is and what role the local rich kid gone wild, Nathan, has in the strange goings on in Arcadia Bay. After personally getting to see some of the potential outcomes and repercussions from decisions earlier on in the series, it’s reassuring that the majority of choices do mean something.
One of the only real drawbacks I’ve found regularly in Life Is Strange is the short supply of puzzling moments. That is until now. Max and Chloe channel their inner Holmes and Watson in an attempt to figure things out, linking together vital pieces of evidence that’s you’ve gathered. It’s really testing to work out what goes with what but all the clues are there and using a bit of logic, it all makes sense eventually. There’s even a place for the almost forgotten rewind ability to be used in this episode, in order to progress in an area.
There aren’t really many new people to see, however, when it comes to places that you’ll find Max in, there are a couple of first time visits. The best of all was actually a re-visit to the swimming pool which got a makeover for a specific event. It was barely recognisable and the mood was created well by the great soundtrack choice.
Life Is Strange Episode 4 “Dark Room” takes the term emotional rollercoaster to a whole new level; I’m not sure any other game has hit me with so much feeling as this has in all my years of playing. I wasn’t entirely convinced about the opening requiring little to no input, but you’ve got to have faith in the developers. It had to be done to tackle a subject that is rarely seen in gaming and the struggles it brings. Having no distractions during this point made sure it hit home. And when it comes to the unique ability that Max has, it doesn’t even feel necessary, so I hope it has a bigger role to play in the finale.
Prepare for your opinions to change on certain people and for there to be shocks aplenty. Just when you think you’ve got the answers… they change the questions.