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Xbox One Game Review

Life is Strange
Episode 4
Dark Room


Format: Xbox One
Publisher: Square Enix
RRP: £3.99
Click here to buy from Xbox Marketplace
Age Restrictions: 16+
Release Date: 28 July 2015

Max realises that changing the past can lead to painful consequences and that time is not a great healer. Her investigation into the disappearance of Rachel Amber begins to reach a thrilling conclusion as she finds the Dark Room. Will the answers lie within? Or will there just be trouble...?

Life is Strange is a five part episodic game that sets out to revolutionise story based choice and consequence games by allowing the player to rewind time and affect the past, present and future. It's a refreshing change of pace for those who usually get their kicks by playing fast paced FPS.

Review imageAt £3.99 an episode (or £16 for the season pass that contains all the episodes) this is a steal. It's a no brainer. This is a fun and intense game. While some may argue that there's not very much to the actual game play, it's not really about that. This game is all about watching the story unfold and making numerous decisions that will flip the story on another path.

Episode three, as we've come to expect, ended on a cliff-hanger and I was really looking forward to finding out what happened next... However, I was disappointed to learn that this, at first, appeared to be mere padding. There's many a lengthy cut sequences, before we have to make one monumentally hard choice (only hard in the respect that we've come to love these characters and so when making a decision I try to make the choices as though the characters are flesh and blood and the consequences just as real). And then, once you've finally made that decision, you take several steps back and this event might as well have never happened.

This was my initial feeling, and as I plodded through the rest of this chapter I was starting to get a little worried that a game I was really loving was dipping so low. There were hardly any choices and the cut sequences were becoming long and tedious. Worry not, for this is the serious calm before one of the sh*ttiest sh*t storms you'll have ever experienced inside a game before. On reflection, I realised that this is part of the joy of this game - getting to experience different timelines. It doesn't matter that you're back to where you were with all consequences being wiped out, because you get to experience another angle of the characters personalities.

Review imageThe game picks up the pace a little and then I thought we were nearing the end - and that the attending of the Vortex Club party would be this episodes cut off point. However... there was still some way to go before the truly spine chilling ending.

There are some mini side quest missions to complete. If you saved the bird in Chloe's house in previous episodes, then you now get the chance to set it free, back into the wild.

The episode also has one of the oddest, and more confusing puzzles. After collecting clues you have to match several items to make a more coherent picture of who the suspect/s are. I have to admit I didn't really know what I was doing, but Max calls out helpful advice and it shouldn't take you too long to fathom out.

Like in an earlier chapter, where you had to interact with Kate on the rooftop, this episode sees you having to get information out of Frank. Like the earlier Kate sequence, there is only one way to do this correctly if you don't want either the authorities or Frank on your back. So a lot of rewinding time is essential if you want to make life as uncomplicated as possible.

Review imageOn the whole, though there appeared to be less areas of this chapter where you can rewind time to complete a task. This episode focuses more on the search for missing Rachel Amber and what happened to her; who drugged Kate and who is their next potential victim. This episode, more than the others, is like a very limited interactive movie.

As I always do, I played this episode through several time. The first go through I played on instinct, making the decisions I think I'd make in real life. On the second play through, with knowledge of the rest of the episode, I chose the path that involved always making the morally good decisions and on the third play through I deliberately made the wrong/bad decisions.

As I've mentioned in previous reviews, at the end of the day it doesn't really matter what you choose, as the main narrative still pans out the same. However, you do run the risk of missing, if you're not paying attention, some of the side quests: like the aforementioned freeing the bird in Chloe's house (if you managed to keep it alive in a previous episode). At the end of the game you are shown all of the decisions along with percentages of the choices that the rest of the gaming community chose. In addition you might spot some things that you totally missed which you can then go back and tackle on subsequent play through's.

Review imageThere are also the photo opportunities to find. In your journal you have a page with clues of photos to take. If you find them and manage to snap the shot, the clues turn into actual photos. But worry not if you can't find them all as you can replay each segment of the game, without changing your storyline decisions, to ensure that you get them all.

It's an emotional roller coaster of a game, with an interesting storyline. It's certainly worth adding to your collection. £16 for all five episodes is a bargain you can't afford to miss out on. I don't think I've played a game like this before where I'm really invested in the characters.

With the next episode being the final one, the quest to find out what happened to Rachel Amber is finally about to be revealed.


Nick Smithson

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