Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: Life is Strange Episode 5

Life is Strange episode 5 is the final episode in the game series. It’s in a word, disappointing. While not as big of a fan as many people, I’ve still considered the game good overall. My impression for each episode have been on the higher side, so I went into this episode hoping for a lot. I did not get it.

A WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS

Plot Summary:

At this point most people know the plot of Life is Strange. Episode 5 doesn’t really add to it. You find out the killer at the end of episode 4 and work from there. 5 is less about developing the overall story and more about Max dealing with the consequences of messing with the time line so much. The lack of overall developing story is part of why this episode was rather disappointing.

Impressions:

Gameplay is pretty much what you’d expect. The puzzles and situations that Max is put in are a lot more challenging. This is the one thing I think this episode does right, and I kind of wish that the others had. In one sequence I did roughly 8 different things all resulting in death or failure. It’s very refreshing to see the game challenge you to use the little time you have to get Max to find the right steps. It can be frustrating, but it’s overall enjoyable and nice to actually do more.

However you will have to deal with a number of game breaking glitches in order to actually play the game. Max can walk through areas she is not supposed to access, the level will completely drop, and interactions aren’t always able to happen. So when you can play it’s fun, you just can’t always play.

The story is not bad but very absent. Most of what happens is meaningless or doesn’t add anything to the experience. The character development has been pretty good overall, but the way things play out has felt iffy to me. Max jumps through time way too often in this game, it leaves the story disjointed and the pacing really off. There is a nightmare sequence which is interesting, though ultimately doesn’t really reveal much. In the end a lot of things felt more like filler than actual story and character development.

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The big thing to me is that Chloe finally seems to have her break through. She finally actually admits her selfishness, and that she has been a pretty awful friend to Max. It’s refreshing though clearly done just to make the final choice harder. That choice is not surprising, the game has clearly been building to Max having to choose between Chloe and basically everybody else. It’s sad but expected. It’s also the end of an episode that feels like it’s dragged on which kills the impact a little. If the rest of the episode had been better it would have had more of an impact, instead I was just so happy to be done that I didn’t care as much.

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Across the board each episode really looked beautiful. No matter what else I liked or disliked I could say at the end “the game looks great”. The game doesn’t look great. After four such beautiful episodes it’s a complete let down how far this episode dropped. The general art style took a few steps back. Aside from the fact that it doesn’t look as polished the game is very clunky. The movements are no longer smooth and the lips are completely out of sync with the audio. Moments are actually painful to watch because it’s just so choppy and out of sync. You can actually see noticeable differences in art from area to area. In fairness I get that parts are supposed to be a little less detailed because Max is jumping through time so much, but not all of the poor art can be blamed on that. In addition to gameplay glitches there are also graphic ones. Backgrounds will completely drop out, details disappear, and be prepared for the random pop ins.

The audio also takes a pretty large jump backwards. There is less music, the voice acting is a bit more sloppy, and there is just no longer that feeling of being immersed in the game.

Bottomline:

This is just such a huge let down for a game that has given people so much. While personally I had problems with the game, objectively I could acknowledge that it was really good, and see why so many people love it. Maybe those high expectations are part of the reason I am being so harsh, but they set it up. To do so much with 4 episodes and then just jump backwards with the final one is kind of a slap in the face. I wanted the experience to end on a better note, but I couldn’t even be swept up in the emotion of it all because of the glaring flaws.

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