Lucien’s Review: Life is Strange: Episode 5

Life is Strange: Episode 5So this is it.  After all these months of building, this is the episode that finishes this game off.  Unless, of course, Dontnod decides that they are going to continue the series.  Please don’t.  I honestly can’t think of a way that this could be improved.  It can only be made worse.  Because the truth is that I have mixed feelings about all of this.  If I had been doing reviews around the time that Mass Effect 3 had come out, I would have ripped that game a new asshole for how bad the ending was.  This game has an ending that is not very good, but there’s something stopping me from tearing it apart.  Maybe it’s a sense of disappointment, more than anger.  Because there was so much emotional lead-up to it, then it all just crumbled and didn’t go anyway that felt even remotely cathartic.  At least in Mass Effect 3, it is implied that everyone lives at the shitty endings.  Here, it’s either all or nothing.  Which sucks, because I have so many unanswered questions, and now I feel…less for the experience.  Let’s talk about it.

I’m about to go into spoiler territory, so you’ve been warned.  After the events of the previous Episode, Max has found out the truth.  Now she’s stuck in Mr. Jefferson’s Dark Room.  Everything that the game was building to leads here.  You have to figure out a way out of the room, then to get save Chloe, and finally, to face the storm that, as you find out, is on you.  Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I actually called it on that one.  What the tornado is, I mean.  What you find when you get to that end point is…the end.  I have to explain more.

There is one major problem that I have with this episode.  It has some really cathartic moments, and it has some moments that aren’t actively terrible, they are just so hollow that I am left feeling empty.  There was a weird mix in this episode of plot and character drive to the story, and it just feels…strange.  I can’t talk about my problems with this episode without getting into spoilers, because my Final Verdict is truly dependent on how I feel about this.  I guess you’ve all been warned, because here we go.

I said in my previous review on Episode 4 that if this game pulled a Mass Effect 3, I would rip it a new asshole.  And in a lot of ways, it did.  There is no other way that this could have turned out.  Your choices affect the conversation options that happen, but as far as I’ve seen, there is no way for it to turn out differently.  Unless I just set up a game so well that I got everything done right.  I don’t know.  In any case, the end of this game takes all the agency away from your choices.  There is some truly phenomenal build-up here!  Like I said, some of what happens is cathartic.  Like when you finally make amends with Warren.  Or when you save Chloe’s life and you get to hash things out. Though that is one of the problems I have with the episode.  Nowhere do Max and Chloe admit how they feel.  I guess it’s all supposed to be in subtext, but there are times that that got to me in a big way.  Like, can we just please acknowledge out loud how you two feel?!  When I got to the ending, there was no way to tell how either of them felt.  Like, is Chloe mad that chose her instead of the entire fucking town?  Let her mom and everyone die?

Which is another thing – the final choice in this game is bullshit!  Total bullshit!  Either you let Chloe die, or every other person in Arcadia Bay dies.  What the fuck kind of choice is that?!  Though, I guess you don’t actually know if they all died, since there is NO epilogue.  Part of me thinks that this is sequel-baiting.  If so, I am going to be SO pissed.  There was no reason why they couldn’t have brought some closure to this.  Some indication that maybe someone survived.  I refuse to believe that not one person was able to make it out alive.  Guess not, since the entire town is leveled at the end.

That reminds me – what the fuck is this power that Max had?  Episode 4 really wrapped up the vast majority of the plot.  I figured that this episode would finally answer that question – what is Max’s power?  Where does it come from?  Why did it choose her?  I was half-expecting there to be some kind of meet-up with her and Rachel Amber.  Like the whole idea that it was her that brought this all about was actually onto something.  Maybe Rachel had found a way to give that power to Max, to get revenge for what happened to her.  This power has no rhyme or reason, even within the context of its own universe, so how the hell did it all come about?

Okay, back to Max and Chloe, what the fuck?!  This game even plays with you if you worked to develop that relationship.  Could we have at least gotten them to admit that they love each other?  I don’t get this!  Ugh!  It’s cool to fuck with the player, and then have no payoff?!

That’s how this episode feels, on the whole.  So much build-up, with no payoff.  That’s not to say that it didn’t have moments.  Like when you get trapped in time.  That part was excellent!  Exploring the recesses of both Max’s psyche and the timelines that she messed with.  For that entire bit, I felt my nerves both on fire and my mind all over the place.  It was visually cool as well.  This was the first episode that released and was glitch-free!  I gotta give Dontnod credit for that.  Then there was finally the conversation between Max and Chloe about what happened with her in the alternate timeline.  That was wonderful!  Everything I could have asked for and more.  Still, I left this episode feeling hollow.  It built and built, then never came together.  It was just the two girls riding off into the sunset.  I don’t hate this episode.  I just…feel let down.  Now that’s how I feel about the entire series.

In my last review, I said that I would review the game as a whole, once this episode came out.  So here it is – so much build-up, with little payoff.  Mass Effect 3 enraged me.  This hurt me.  I mean, come on!  Just three little words and at least I would finally know if what I built up to led to something!  I put time and effort into building these two’s relationship!  Three little words and I wouldn’t be nearly as mad.  Especially before making the last choice!  Talk about a way to really give the situation weight!  For Max to tell Chloe that she loves her.  Did that occur to NO ONE in your writing staff?!  Or maybe make that last drive out where the two admit how they feel.  If that is sequel-bait, Dontnod, I am going to rip you a new one.  Do NOT play with me like that!  And that’s all I can say about this.  Sorry to not be more objective with the review, but this is my site, and I just don’t have anything objectively to say.

*Update* So, it seems that I was wrong about how the relationship between Max and Chloe ends!  They do admit how they feel, but only if you let Chloe die.  That is bullshit!  Why?  Because I guess the developers thought it was “insensitive” to have them show love when they are watching Arcadia Bay get leveled.  Fuck that!  I did everything right, and I fail anyway because of a development choice!  Fuck Dontnod!  You bastards!  Fuck you up your assholes!  Now I feel like I wasted my time.

Final Verdict
5 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

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