Representing the final chapter of Life is Strange , episode five has an awful lot to live up to. I’ve been friends with Max since January and now, some ten months later, I was on tenterhooks to see how her remarkable story finishes.
Lets face facts, at this stage in the game its going to be hard for me to avoid spoilers, and although I will try to do so in my review, I’ve given you ample warning. I’m also not going to be bothered with telling you how the game actually plays, as if you’ve come this far chances are you know what to expect. Suffice it to say this is a story driven game where you get control over the choices made.
Episode 4 could be seen as finishing the main Rachel Amber thread, as you found out what happened to her. Episode 5 therefore has to keep things interesting as it picks up directly after the events of episode 4. Things start pretty dark, get darker pretty quickly, and by the end of the game the choices you face are harrowing. As an example in sustaining a story Life is Strange is second to none, constantly throwing you curve balls and using slight of hand to keep you on your toes. Episode five brings startling new gameplay elements to the fore and plays with your expectations in a myriad of unexpected ways. That the final instalment in this game can still feel so fresh and exhilarating is remarkable and a credit to the developers DONTNOD.
Throughout its run this game has pulled some great tricks which really have you considering the consequences of the choices you’ve been making. In this final episode things start to get more complicated and a later nightmare section has you literally facing up to the choices you made.
I grew to love Life is Strange in part due to interesting gameplay mechanics but mainly due to the way it was able to pull at my emotions. Through the use of a recognisable setting, to the frequent and surprising references to geek culture, Life is Strange is an expert manipulator. Each episode has layered on the emotion, ratcheting it up and never letting it go. This final episode broke me. It’s rare that games affect me in quite the way this did, but by halfway through the final episode, I had a terrible, terrible, feeling that this game was going to take my heart and tear it up. After the final choice I was in bits. Sometimes there is no right answer.
As a single entity the complete season of Life is Strange is exemplary. It has revitalised a genre which until now had been typified through a lack of interaction, shitty quick time events, and choices which can be easily second guessed. Offering a refreshingly contemporary take on the story driven genre Life is Strange is an essential purchase and will be the bar to which future story driven games are judged by.