Life is Strange: Episode 4 - Dark Room (PlayStation 4) Review

By David Lovato 03.08.2015 1

Review for Life is Strange: Episode 4 - Dark Room on PlayStation 4

After a bit lengthier break between releases, Dontnod Entertainment delivers the penultimate episode of Life is Strange. It's been several days since Max Caulfield woke from a terrifying daydream to discover she can rewind time. This ability has proven useful time and again, but Max is coming to realise that her actions have consequences, and tampering with time can have dire results. Episode 3 found Max changing a major event in her life, only to drastically change the world around her. Dark Room picks up right where the story left off.

Episode 4 dives right into the emotional, cinematic experience Dontnod has delivered throughout the series so far. Precise camera angles bring lovely sceneries—and mysterious natural (or perhaps supernatural) phenomena—to life. Something is wrong in Arcadia Bay, and it's not just the dead birds or random eclipses. Childhood friends Max and Chloe resume their search for missing teen Rachel Amber, using Max's ability to rewind time to their advantage.

It's not immediately clear why this episode took a little longer than the others to produce. What is immediately clear are random dialogue pauses. Some of the dialogue is stilted, with characters making arbitrary stops or putting emphasis in strange places. Dialogue issues have been a problem from the start, but they're a little more noticeable than in previous entries. The writing itself is at the series' best: sometimes clunky and cheesy, but mostly in order.

Screenshot for Life is Strange: Episode 4 - Dark Room on PlayStation 4

The photo op mini-game, where Max must find objects in the world to take pictures of, is easier than it was last time, with a few of the ops being more difficult to find. This episode also brings new environments, one of which players will only see if their Episode 2 playthrough ended a certain way. It's good to see decisions matter, and not just cosmetically. Characters can live or die based on choices, and events can change future episodes, sometimes greatly.

Dark Room features a new mini-game in which the camera enters first-person view, and Max must piece together clues from all of the information gathered across the season so far. It's a fun segment, and ends just as it starts to become tedious, resulting in an overall pleasant experience. The rest of the puzzles are quite clever, and solutions aren't always immediately obvious, though characters will usually chime in if it's taking too long to figure things out.

Music once again plays a pivotal role. The upbeat "In My Mind" by Amanda Palmer marks one of the happier, more relaxing scenes found in the series, while Message to Bears' "Mountains" guides the audience through a tense, quickly escalating moment sure to be a highlight of the season. All of this leads to the oft-mentioned Vortex Club party alluded to throughout the series, after which Dontnod once again utterly outdoes themselves with a cliff-hanger ending, leaving fans on the edge of their seats for another few weeks.

Screenshot for Life is Strange: Episode 4 - Dark Room on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

From the gate it was clear that Life is Strange was a title to keep an eye on. It's now evolved into an experience over a million players are constantly on the edge of their seats to continue, and is poised to become one they'll likely never forget. Even a seemingly shorter, more linear episode like this one shines in all the right places; it's a visual novel with a choose-your-own-adventure twist in which choices matter, and consequences are finally catching up like the dark cyclone ever hurdling toward Arcadia Bay. The wait between releases has become less of a nuisance and more a part of the experience, with fans theorising and replaying the game, searching every inch for clues. Max Caulfield's story comes to an end next episode, and there won't be a better time to catch up.

Developer

Dontnod Entertainment

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I can't get over this game. I'm in love with it, but god damnit, I'm now having a breakdown waiting for Episode 5.

Major ep 4 ending spoilers:

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