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Xbox One Game Review
Max and Chloe’s investigation into Rachel Amber’s disappearance lead them to break into Blackwell Academy after dark, searching for answers. It’s here they discover that Rachel kept many secrets and was not the person Chloe thought she knew. Max meanwhile discovers she has a new power that brings with it some devastating consequences...
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.
At £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.
This episode made me realise that in reality it doesn't matter what path you chose, as the main narrative doesn't alter too much. For example, without spoiling too much, part two ended with a major event happening for one of the characters... but it was an event you could, if you'd made the right choices prior to that point, avoid. In fact, even if you'd messed up prior to that point, you could still help them... it was just much harder.
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 mentioned before, 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, are some of the side quests: like saving one of your class mates from getting splashed by a vehicle speeding through a puddle or killing off your plant by under or over watering it. 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 (for example, changing your friends exam score).
And there are 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. This chapter seemed to be a little harder than previous installments and, as yet, I've still not managed to complete all the photo challenges (even though I know where they all are). It's hitting that sweet spot that allows you to choose the "take photo" option that is a little tricky.
The story moves ever forward and in this chapter you and Chloe break into the school at night to find out what clues the principal is keeping locked up (if anything at all) in his office. You're convinced that there must be some clues to the mysterious disappearance of Rachel Amber. Once you've finished there, you're tasked with breaking into Frank Bowers's RV and then you discover that you have a new power... which opens up the story a little more.
There are no surprises that it ends on quite an impressive cliff-hanger, one that yet again will hit an emotional nerve.
I couldn't help thinking that this episode seemed a little shorter. I think it was something the developers were also conscious of as they've implemented a couple of segments where you need to walk around the environment and pick up a collection of items in order to progress. But don't worry, it's nothing too tasking, although collecting the ingredients so that Joyce could make breakfast seemed a little too much like padding.
What we have here is a cut sequence heavy story with choices that shape some of the interactions with characters in the game. There is some fun to be had rewinding time and preventing accidents, or causing them, but if you want to get the most out of the story, then you're going to have to spend most of the time wandering around the environment and interacting with every object you come across.
If I had one slight complaint, it was that the cut sequences in the swimming pool looked incomplete; as though the developers had released a rough version because they had run out of time to finalise the graphics and hadn't managed to smooth out some of the rough segments.
I can't remember a game where the music has played such an integral part of the atmosphere. For those that are enjoying the music, you can also listen to the official album for free via Spotify and YouTube.
It's a beautiful looking 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. You do start to care about them...
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