A hipster’s case of tragedy, betrayal, and high school drama.
Going into Dark Room, the penultimate episode of Life is Strange, I knew this was going to suffer from what I like to call “The Telltale Effect”, which is where the fourth episode is just an excuse to dump emotion and revelations onto the player, who is behind the steering wheel, only to throw away that in the first ten minutes of the fifth, which Telltale’s recent Game of Thrones has mostly alleviated through its use of an extra episode.
Even though the name of the episode is Dark Room, this episode focuses on several smaller instances leading up to the final 30 minutes, which, as stated before, is just a shamble of an info dump.
You start the episode immediately after the conclusion of the third episode, Chaos Theory, and spends so much time here, it feels like overkill, given the fact that, yes, the outcome of the decision at the end of the previous episode is nullified within the first thirty minutes. It’s disgusting to have such a story-based game throw away my time like that, especially one where I care about the characters so much.
Chloe & Max, for the first time in a while, actually felt like actual teenagers from modern Washington instead of these hipster stereotypes that the previous episodes indicated that they were. There’s no goofing off in this episode.
There is one puzzle in this episode that is going to piss you off. You have to bring together clues from Frank, David and Nathan to finally figure out the location of where Nathan’s been going after school. This puzzle is so damn tedious, though. You can select clues in any order, but the game doesn’t give you any hints or anything. It just says “here, why don’t you do it?” Now that would be very fine and dandy, but I had no idea what I was looking for, and when I did, I could barely make out the ultra low-res textures the game boasts as a stylistic choice.
There’s also a platforming puzzle, but at least this puzzle is interesting. You need to break a padlock and the only tools that you need seem to be above you. So, you do a sort of co-op mechanic here with Chloe, asking her to boost you or attach a hook to something. This puzzle smartly decides to avoid the aspect of rewinding time almost entirely. If DONTNOD ever wants to make a platformer with this mechanic, I’m all in.
You ultimately decide who lives or dies, but even with the vastly improved script, I just am so confused about what DONTNOD (the developer, of Remember Me fame) wants to do with Life is Strange. Do they just want to “fix” what was wrong with Remember Me, or are they actually trying to be the new Telltale? I honestly don’t know anymore.
The story, as I’ve discussed with my peers, is just “off”. Life is Strange, as a whole, was marketed as two girls, Max & Chloe in a fictional town of Arcadia Bay, investigating the disappearance of a local named Rachael Amber, who is somehow related to Chloe. Life is Strange has gone bonkers with this whole rewinding time mechanic and end of the world stigma that I think, honestly, it’d be better to just scrap all this other auxiliary crap and just move on.
Even with all of its problems, Dark Room is still miles better than the previous episode, and deserves the old college try, especially if you are even casually interested in where the season’s narrative is going.
If you want to check out my other Life is Strange episode reviews, click the links below: