Life is Strange by DONTNOD Entertainment (2015)
Episode 4 – Dark Room (July)
Read – Episode 1: Chrysalis
Read – Episode 2: Out of Time
Read – Episode 3: Chaos Theory
After the sucker-punch ending of Chaos Theory, Dark Room advances with a more serious tone than ever before. The rabbit hole that is Arcadia Bay goes deeper and deeper leading to some surprising twists that only the most keen players will have guessed. While the visuals and soundtrack stay relatively below par, Dark Room makes up for it in big ways when it comes to story. The mysteries that plague our two heroes finally get put together, quite literally, revealing several key answers that we’ve long been waiting for. True to the Life is Strange tradition, the ending comes with a swift kick to the gut, introducing the final questions of the series.
As we near the end, the question of ‘How much do my actions really affect the future?’ becomes even more relevant as characters make it a point to remind you of past interactions with them. While the broad overarching plot will most likely stay the same, the devil is in the details when past grievances affect how others treat you. In my playthrough, I tried my best to help anyone I could, leaving Max with some particularly strange bedfellows. For me, this invokes a slight sense of disbelief that Max, the smooth talker that she is, can literally befriend just about anyone by saying what they want to hear. While this may be my fault for being just so darn nice to fictional characters, it’s certainly hard to believe that this could happen in a real high school setting.
With gameplay staying more or less the same, plot progression takes precedence over decision making with the finish line in sight. Playing almost like a movie, Dark Room keeps distractions, like exploration and puzzle solving, to a minimum to allow the story to run at a natural pace. Two of the puzzles gave me some trouble, but with my nifty rewind powers and a quick google search, they weren’t much of a hindrance.
By this point, not finishing this series would be like stopping a book mid-way, and Dark Room certainly keeps the momentum going. After all of these supernatural occurrences and confusing timelines, I am doubtful that there will be a satisfying ending waiting for me. To be able to wrap everything up in a neat bow at this point would be almost impossible save for fantastical reasoning. This being said, I am wholly prepared for an emotional roller coaster in Episode 5: Polarized that I hope will finish this series as creatively and as beautifully as it started.
Life is Strange is also available on both PlayStation and Xbox.
A BIRD’S EYE VIEW