Wot I Thought: Life Is Strange Episode 4

The Life Is Strange [official site] Episode 4 thoughts have been a long time coming for one reason and another, but I wanted to get something down on digital paper about it before episode 5 turns up and [presumably] ties some kind of a bow on proceedings. There will be spoilers, pretty much as soon as you click through and then constantly until the end of the article so, y’know, bear that in mind.

Okay, so my thoughts are still rather disjointed because I’m trying to reserve judgement on some of what happened until the final episode, but I’ve had a bit of time to pick at the episode. Life Is Strange is still a strong candidate for my game of the year but this episode raised a bunch of problems. With that in mind, perhaps it’s best to lay out thoughts in bullet points. They’re not all criticisms, by the way, but I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what’s unsettled me or what didn’t quite work here so I think it veers towards the negative.

I’ll recap the plot in case it’s been a while since you played, but some of the specifics might be different if you made different choices:

We start off with Chloe in the timeline where her dad wasn’t killed. Instead, he is still very much alive and with Joyce as the pair try to make ends meet paying healthcare bills after Chloe has been injured in a car accident and needs round-the-clock care. After you make a choice about helping Chloe end her own like you get taken back to the original timeline, no longer preventing William’s death. Detective work ensues as you try to get to the bottom of what happened to Kate (a student who, in my timeline, is still alive after threatening to jump from a roof) at a Vortex Club party. This leads to the discovery of a creepy concealed dark room and what [presumably] happened to Rachel Amber. The episode ends with Victoria (the suspected next victim) winning a trip to a photography competition with teacher Mr Jefferson and Mr Jefferson apparently shooting Chloe and drugging Max.

All of the “suspecteds” and “probablys” and “apparentlys” are because, look, there is a lot of time jiggery pokery and I don’t know how much of this is going to be retconned or turn out to be something other than you assume.

1. The Rachel reveal

I feel weird picking this as a highlight because it’s horrible and sad, but it’s also a rare moment when a game delivers a real gut punch like this. Chloe and Max race to the junkyard and Chloe starts frantically digging in the spot she has recognised from a picture in the darkroom. There’s horror and devastation and the grim reality of a bluei-ish bag in the ground where you’d been wandering just a few days earlier, looking for bottles in Chloe and Rachel’s special hideout just a few feet away.

I think perhaps the best way of explaining why it worked so well for me is that Rachel already being dead carries with is a sense of betrayal. In game terms it’s because you have the power to alter time. Rachel can’t be dead because you have a super power and you were going to fix everything. This body bag in the ground and Chloe’s retching are able to – as Alice put it while we were chatting – utterly deflate that idea. The betrayal of that assumed contract between player and storyteller is a kind of small-scale mimicry of the powerlessness I associate with death in the real world.

It was horrible. Really horrible and really powerful.

2. The pacing

The pacing of this episode felt really off. It’s most obvious towards the end where Max and Chloe head to the Vortex Club party in the school pool area after discovering Rachel Amber’s dead body. The discovery of the body was really well-handled, as I’ve said, and it left me feeling really upset and wanting to take a few minutes to absorb what had happened, but then it was all drunk Warren and party music and faffing about. It felt like the key scene was never given enough space because the game devs were so keen to get to the next twist. Episode 4 was really long but I’m thinking that an extra scene between the junkyard and the party would have helped a huge amount in terms of the impact of that scene being felt rather than being rushed or glossed.

Another way the pacing issue manifests is within the Vortex Club scene. There’s no change from the game’s usual meandering pace. Max doesn’t move any faster and, sure her questions are more focused around Nathan’s whereabouts, but there’s still plenty of time for chit chat and wibble and taking an interest in other people’s love lives. When Kate was threatening to jump off the dorm roof Life Is Strange took away your time rewind power meaning you didn’t get a do-over if you fucked everything up. There was tension and stress to that conversation. Here is the polar opposite. I feel like the game should have done a better job of underpinning the urgency of the situation, restricting dialogue options, having Max move faster, speak more urgently and so on.

3. Friendship

In the first section – the one with the alternate timeline and William still alive but the family struggling to pay Chloe’s medical bills after a car crash – there was a repetition of “you’re my best friend” in conversation to the point where it started to be abrasive in its meaninglessness. After a while thinking about it I’d say that’s a fair use – when you’re on uncertain ground it can be helpful to say what you wish was true or what used to be easily true even if it’s been allowed to slip over the years. Fair use but uncomfy to hear – a sort of nails-down-a-chalkboard effect as I played.

This is an observation that sounds like a criticism but I think the discomfort is important and is possibly the most interesting way it manifests, followed closely by the attempts at teasing by both Max and Chloe. That said, that scene is so saturated in guilt and dramatic sadness and hammering the tragedy of the situation home that I spent a lot of it feeling bludgeoned by hopelessness. I’m fortunate enough not to have experienced anything close to the reality of that alternate timeline so I don’t know if my words are coming from a place of total naivete or inexperience. I guess all I know is that from the point of privilege from which I’m playing it felt like being railroaded into agreeing that the game should switch back to the original timeline even if that meant not saving Chloe’s dad.

4. The William’s alive timeline

Actually, I was watching my partner play this episode yesterday and it underscored to me how differently he and I play. When I was in Chloe’s room I felt uncomfy rooting around in her things as she watched. I also felt uncomfy having a long conversation with her dad while she was waiting for pain relief so I didn’t actually explore everything that was available, just made brief chat and then a beeline for the bathroom. I never even met Joyce in that timeline because I’ve always considered Joyce and her husband’s bedroom to be off limits no matter which scene it is or which episode and so I’d never even opened the door. Max wasn’t supposed to be in there as far as I was concerned so it was weird watching someone else’s Max rooting around in bedside tables and checking out photos.

But overall it was a peculiarly weightless section of the game for all the guilt and sighing and the focus on financial struggle as a result of healthcare costs. I think I was similar to a lot of other people in feeling like this timeline couldn’t be the one you stick with for long because otherwise too many of your previous choices would be meaningless. With that perspective the assisted suicide choice at the end seemed weightless too. I’m guessing it might be something you revisit in the final episode – perhaps you have to adopt that timeline for some reason and thus you are forced to make that choice again but with actual consequences to the scene this time?

This is one of the things that I’m still waiting to see how it plays out – was her accident and subsequent need of expensive and extensive medical care a shock tactic or a brief sojourn into moral thought experiment land? Life is Strange has earned enough trust that I’m still waiting for Episode 5 to see where they were going with it but I do still have reservations.

5. Tonal weirdness in conversation with Victoria

The conversation I had with Victoria at the Vortex Club party felt all over the place tonally. Games that hinge around player choice do tend to have those because you get key moments where a conversation takes into account multiple actions – you did this positive thing so you get this friendly line of dialogue but then the next part of the conversation deals with the repercussions of a bit where you were less nice and so suddenly the other person becomes cross. The conversation with Victoria played out like that – vulnerability and crankiness alternating in weird ways – and I really just couldn’t get a handle on it.

I saw a similar thing in my partner’s conversation with Kate on the rooftop too (although not my own). Kate was ready to be helped down and seemed pretty calm but then she switched back to frantic and freaked out while he had to resolve one last part of the conversation tree.

6. Mr Jefferson and Nathan

I’d been saying Mr Jefferson was a wrong-un since the start (to the point where I have “I told you so” rights in conversation with several friends at this point). He’s skeevy as all hell and he was a douche towards Kate. In fact he was the one I picked to accuse when we were in the principal’s office after Kate’s suicide attempt. Nathan seemed like an obvious candidate but a) I thought he would wiggle out of any charges because of his dad’s influence and b) when kids like Nathan pop up in this type of fiction I’m used to them being red herrings – acting out in response to terrible parents or something. They’re generally bellends but ultimately not the real villains of the piece*. The real villains tend to be the slightly-too-cool adults on the periphery who abuse positions of trust. HI MR JEFFERSON.

Also anyone who trots out that “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans” Lennon quote to impress students can do one. Screw you, Mr Jefferson.

Obviously there could still be some other twist and, I dunno, a time ghost could still have done it, or Nathan’s dad might be blackmailing Mr Jefferson because Nathan’s dad loves a spot of blackmail but Mr Jefferson is clearly a wrong-un at this juncture.

7. In the dark room

God, that dark room and those binders full of women and the photos of Kate and Rachel were creepy. Properly gross and creepy.

8. The future

At this juncture it’s logical that people would be trying to work out how it all ties together – the property deals, the tornados, the mystical/magical elements, the abductions/druggings/suspected murderings, the role of time travel, whether Max can save Chloe in this timeline because it looks PRETTY FREAKING BLEAK RIGHT NOW… I have done a little of that myself but I’m trying not to, partly because I’m not too fond of the theories I do have and I’m hoping I’m wrong.

Something I have been pondering since the start of the game is that polaroid of Max looking at her own photo wall. I think she describes it as a selfie at one point but it’s taken from a few feet behind her own head. With that in mind I’ve spent these four episodes wondering whether at some point she will get some sort of super souped up version of her time powers and be able to be turn up in her own timeline, manipulating herself and rewriting history in a broader way than she currently does.

What about you? Did you play? Did you feel very differently?

*See also: Frank. He’s not the villain here because he was too obviously the villain.

52 Comments

  1. Aelric says:

    I dunno. I’m kinda thinking it’ll be the hobo behind the dinner ending. I won’t say more than that, those that want potential spoilers can look up that theory on their own.

  2. Lakshmi says:

    But will it explain the ghost deer thing?

    With you on the pacing of the party. There really was zero urgency to it.

    • battles_atlas says:

      Absolutely, to be confronted with a seemingly endless line of heartfelt “you’re such a wonderful person” conversations, straight after the dark room and the body, was an awful misstep.

      The thing I really struggled with in this episode that isn’t covered here is made all the worse but those conversations. I’m talking about what Max’s motivations are supposed to be in seeking out Nathan. Max at least as I played her would not indulge in a spot of vigilante murdering, regardless of circumstance, and the game never discusses what her intentions are, but given she’s keeping step with Chloe and her gun you can only assume Max is planning cold blooded murder. Doesn’t fit though. And even if you played Max as awfully as possible, I’m still not convinced its in keeping with what has gone before.

      • somnolentsurfer says:

        Yeah, I’ve played Max as trying to separate Chloe from the gun at every opportunity. So don’t think of her as setting out to try and kill him though, just confront him and stop him.

        The protagonist continuing when they clearly should have stopped and called the police is pretty much a necessary trope for the genre to work. I guess given we already know that Nathan’s dad has a police office basically paid to babysit him, it’s arguable there’s a good reason for not going to them.

        • Lakshmi says:

          Yup, I’m also seeing it as her trying to be there to help control some of Chloe’s more spontaneous bursts of anger. I really can’t see Max as wanting to shoot anyone.

        • ribby says:

          Dude they found a body

          a dead body. So the police might be corrupt- but there’d have to not be a shred of morality among them for them to ignore that.

          • RabbitIslandHermit says:

            There have absolutely been worse instances of police ignoring crimes and acting immorally.

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      gritz says:

      I don’t think that really needs explanation. Each character seems to be strongly associated with a certain animal- the ghost deer is just being more explicit about Max’s.

      • somnolentsurfer says:

        I thought the dear was Rachel? Isn’t it on the site where her body turns up?

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          gritz says:

          The deer is more closely associated with Max, imo. She wears a shirt with a deer on it. Chloe kept a snowglobe with a deer in it when Max moved away. One kid tells Max he thinks the deer is her spirit animal. Stuff like that.

          But I see where you’re coming from.

          • Lakshmi says:

            It’s also at the lighthouse place when she first sees the big vortex thing too.

    • Darth Grabass says:

      The ghost deer was explained in episode 4. It’s Rachel.

      • Lakshmi says:

        I thought there was more to the symbolism than that, but I guess we’ll see in the last ep.

  3. uranium8 says:

    Great summary and you articulate really well my own feelings toward this episode. Especially the jarring nature of the Vortex Club scenes so soon on the heels of finding Rachel. Nevertheless, I’ve really enjoyed the game as a whole – I like that it takes on ‘non-game’ subject matter and look forward to the concluding episode.

  4. Premium User Badge

    basilisk says:

    I enjoyed the bit with the crocodile and the scene where Max takes a picture and then everything is perfectly fine and nothing bad happens, ever. (Right. That should take care of the accidental spoilers.)

    I agree that the Chloe decision, even though done very well and genuinely blankly-stare-at-the-monitor-for-a-full-minute difficult, was swept under the rug far too quickly, but by now I think Dontnod know where they’re going with this. In fact, that’s one of the things I really like – where Telltale’s TWDs2 often felt like it was improvising most of the time, Life is Strange seems to be planned from the start in more than just broad strokes. I’m reasonably sure this decision is going to come back, and it’s likely to be awful.

    And yes, pacing was a bit off and the change of tone in conversations can get jarring sometimes, not just in this episode. But this is probably something this (sub)genre is never going to get quite right, because it’s extremely hard.

    And regarding the last point, the other day, I was thinking about the game in the shower and come up with a perfect theory that tied the whole thing together and neatly explained everything. Then I turned off the water and immediately forgot absolutely everything about it. But selfies definitely were involved; I feel they’re ultimately going to be more than just a motif.

    Either way, I can’t say I care about the whole magic tornado thing at all. But I do care about Max and Chloe far more than I thought I would.

  5. somnolentsurfer says:

    I’ve properly loved Life is Strange so far. Easily my game of the year.

    That said, I was very worried going into this episode. The potential for a massive ableist fuck up making life in a wheelchair out to be a fate worse than death just seemed to strong to overcome.

    So, overall, I was pleased and relieved. The time that Chloe and Max spend together in the alternate timeline is well handled and doesn’t degrade Chloe as a person because of her circumstance. It’s all rendered a bit meaningless by Max never having to take any of the consequences for the big decision, but Chloe dying anyway is clearly in there out of gameplay necessity to get back to the main story. Story-wise the whole section is kind of pointless, but I think I’m with those who suspect it was introducing the photo-rewind power so Max will be able to go back to the photo Warren took at the party.

    And I thought the ending was amazing. For it to move so deftly from the quirky sci-fi tale to that dark place, and to do it without being horrifically exploitative, is something very few stories manage, in any medium. In major publisher videogames, it’s exceptional.

    Before episode four, I had serious worries about Dontnod’s ability to finish this well. Before episode five I have much more faith.

    Oh, and the music’s still great.

    Oh, and I’ve been waiting to write a comment on this article for so long. Thank you!

    • ProctorEldritch says:

      Agreed, Life is Strange is my GOTY as well.

      I also agree with you on how the decisions in the alternate timeline are rendered meaningless by basically undoing everything. I, more or less, went into the alternate timeline with the assumption that everything was going to return to normal after Max discovers that this timeline is in some way “worse” than the normal timeline. With that said, the medical bills and Chloe asking for Max to help her end her life, really just felt heavy handed. I’ve been very emotionally involved in the rest of the game, but I got disconnected in the alternate timeline. I, unfortunately, had a sense of what they were up to, and it just felt like really cheap emotional manipulation.

      Still, it’s only a slight blemish on a game I’ve very much enjoyed so far.

  6. TheBigBookOfTerror says:

    Since I saved Kate, I’m curious as tonwhat happens instead of going to see her in the hospital? Is this just skipped or is there a memorial or wake scene, something like that?

    • rmsgrey says:

      I believe it’s just skipped – the hospital scene is a bonus for doing well at that key point earlier.

  7. seanas says:

    Honestly, I thought this episode was total shark jumping, even though I’d really enjoyed the series until now.

    Bad: the Rachel reveal. Or rather, that our heroines discover that their macguffin is dead and do nothing about it. They’ve been chasing her for several episodes, they discover, shockingly, that she’s dead (in the same place where Chloe hung out all the time without somehow noticing the newly dug grave), but when they find her dead, do they go to the police? No, they go to a party…

    The moon: there’s a double moon in the sky. People say ‘wow, pretty, I’d better take a photo’, not ‘WTF?!?!’

    The shooting of Chloe: it’s either going to be retconned – in which case it’s cheap manipulation – or they’ve casually dismissed the narrative centre of the story. I’m not sure which is worse.

    I liked the alternate reality with William, I liked the conversations with Victoria (although I’d been kind to her the whole way), and I liked – although hadn’t seen coming – the Mr. Jefferson angle (although for Twin Peaks purposes, it really needed to be Rachel’s dad). But the other points I thought were so weak, and so in complete contrast to the rest of the game up until now, that I’m honestly not looking forward to the rest of the season.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      The shooting of Chloe: it’s either going to be retconned – in which case it’s cheap manipulation – or they’ve casually dismissed the narrative centre of the story. I’m not sure which is worse.

      I don’t think there’s any way Chloe survives the whole story at this point. She’s avoided death in every episode so far. I don’t think that means she’s been “causally” dismissed though. People die, and you can’t change that. I think that’s the point.
      Like I said above though, I think there’ll be an attempt to bring her back using Warren’s photo first, ’cause otherwise what was the alternate timeline for?

    • demicanadian says:

      DONTNOD are masters of retconning the last scene :D

    • Brigand says:

      Didn’t they go to the party because Chole wanted to find and kill Nathan? That’s surely reacting to finding Rachel dead.

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      gritz says:

      I mean, “retcon” in this story doesn’t really mean the same thing as it does in others.

  8. zapatapon says:

    How it all ties in together at the end. Given the amount of shit to be resolved, I have been wondering about that like everyone else and I am seriously expecting that it won’t, and that the ending will be a letdown. What I’d really like is at least the Max/Chloe thread to get a satisfying closure, but I won’t bet my money on it. Given the looming end-of-the-world theme, we probably won’t escape a would-be dramatic showdown where it is pondered about the meaning of life, time and identity before all narrative arcs suddenly being reset to some “normal/stable” state without further explanation. Or some bullshit explanation. Possibly Max must disappear to achieve this (Donnie Darko ending). Crossing my fingers that at least there won’t be a totally ridiculous twist ending — only David Lynch can pull one off without falling flat on his arse (Mulholland Drive).

    Note to self: apologize publicly after last Episode if proved totally wrong.

    Oh, what the hell. Like I wrote in a previous comment, I actually don’t care so much about the plot, I simply love that game for its style and enjoy the ride.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      I hope there won’t be any kind of attempt at explaining the apocalyptic. It doesn’t need it. My prediction at this point is that it will all clear up if Max can accept that Chloe is dead and move on. Which will be great if they can leave it to speak for itself. If they feel the need to put it in words it’ll ruin it.

      • zapatapon says:

        Ok. Now I’m almost convinced by your argument that the ultimate point of the story might be to finally accept the death of Chloe. It makes sense given the other episodes (although, remind me how Max saves Chloe from certain doom in Episode 3?), it would be satisfying for the game to finally reveal to be about this, and could provide good closure.

        I am just somewhat concerned that they’ll want to fold all other threads into this one by attempting a Mulholland Drive ending (in the vein: the whole story is a grief-induced fantasy symbolically re-imagining actual events, Rachel is Chloe, or whatnot). For the record, Mulholland Drive is one of my favorite movies and I find its conclusion absolutely mind-blowing and memorable (one of very few movies with a twist ending where I can say so), but as I wrote above, only someone of the caliber of Lynch (who is, by the way, amply referenced in the game) can pull this off successfully. Fingers crossed.

        • somnolentsurfer says:

          You’re right, sorry. For some reason I thought the train and the accidentally shooting herself were in different episodes.

          I should really watch Mullholand Drive again. Haven’t seen it since it first came out, when I remember debating the meaning for days.

          • zapatapon says:

            One of the strengths of Mulholland Drive is that the ending is very elliptic, with a fairly clear and satisfying overall main explanation (the first part is a guilt-induced fantasy/dream) but a lot details left intentionally ambiguous for viewer interpretation.

            I only realize now that the very first and cryptic comment in this thread probably also points towards this kind of ending (“the hobo behind the diner” is a Mulholland Drive scene – one more additional strong Lynch reference in LiS)

            It’s crazy. I used not to care about the plot and now thanks to your comment I feel as a damn internet fanboy believing rock hard in his crackpot theory. “It all makes sense now!. Final call: the whole story is a fantasy. Chloe is dead. Max does not really exist, she is a representation of the inner self of a grief-overcome Rachel looking to find back her identity (missing Rachel, selfies, also explains why Max is so transparent and asexual and why the doe is a representation of both Max and Rachel). Jefferson is Rachel’s psychiatrist, both a guiding figure trying to get her to “express herself by submitting a photo” and a the same time perceived as a threat to the whole fantasy. The dark room is his practice and the photo files are files of his patients having suffered various form of trauma. Ok I’ll stop now or else I will start to explain who actually represents the Christ.

  9. plugav says:

    Max tore up the photo of helself looking at the wall back in episode one, I think. The polaroid I believe will come into play in the finale is the one drunken Warren took before we got to the party.

    And yeah, Mr. Jefferson seemed like an insincere jerk from the start, but DAMN, that reveal really made me sick. I was expecting murder, sure, but serial sexual abuse by someone who positions himself as a mentor to impressionable youth is a bit darker and realer than I was prepared for.

    That said, I liked the episode a lot, with all its flaws. Part of it might be because I played the alt timeline thing on one day and the rest of the episode on another, so the pacing was not that big of an issue for me. My only real problem is the girls leaving the dark room and Rachel’s body as they found them, without taking any evidence or calling the police – it was too obviously a setup for things going wrong at the end.

    • monkeytommo says:

      Also… Can’t remember which episode it is, but Mr. Jefferson’s photographs are plastered around campus! Might be all the episodes! Super creepy looking back!!

      That bit when Max was injected, at that moment I said to myself “It’s Mr. Jefferson” haha. Made me feel sick to my stomach! That’s some great writing.

      • somnolentsurfer says:

        I’ve been watching a stream on YouTube since reading this, and the phone conversation Jefferson has right before Kate’s suicide attempt is pretty effin’ creepy. Who was he talking to, given that Nathan’s in the classroom?

  10. Bradamantium says:

    Dontnod sort of lost me with this episode. The party has such a sense of Point of No Return that it’s just bizarre, there’s no indication that Max and Chloe are going to Certain Death but Max keeps talking as if she’ll never see anyone again…which either a) she won’t and the developer was too eager to provide closure or b) she will and that entire scene will have been pointlessly sentimental.

    As far as the Jefferson reveal, it doesn’t sit particularly well with me. Unless something comes around in the last episode and it All Makes Sense In Retrospect, it seems like a baseless twist. I too thought he was a skeevy fella, but there wasn’t anything to support that outside of my own intuition, so it feels a bit half-baked.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      “I could frame any one of you in a dark corner, and capture you in a moment of desperation.”

      • plugav says:

        Yikes, nice foreshadowing.

        Also, you can apparently listen in on his conversation with Kate before her suicide attempt, and here’s what he has to say: link to lifeisstrange-theories.tumblr.com Aside from being an arsehole, he’s clearly trying to find out if she remembers him from the night she was drugged (in which case he’d make her disappear too, one assumes).

  11. Laurentius says:

    These games are ultimate cake for games writers and critics. They can write long essays about them for months. Don’t get me wrong I actually like reading articles like this, one even if I have no interest of playing that game ( watching LP of Ep1 was enough for me ). Still it’s kind of interesting that 85 % of 50 most played games on Steam right now, has absolutelty no chance to recieve even friction of such attention and dedication, the biggest thing possible, apart from simple news reporting is some short, jokey, tounge in the cheek articel every couple of weeks.

  12. TheAngriestHobo says:

    Yay! Finally! LiS headthinks!

    …of course now I’ve completely forgotten the details of the episode apart from those summarized in this article. I thought it was pretty good, I think? Clearly not as strong as the first couple of episodes, but that’s not unusual for the penultimate chapter of a story. There are a lot of threads to connect before the denouement can play out, and a limited timeframe (and budget) with which to accomplish that. I’d attribute the odd pacing – I noticed it too – to that fact. Dontnod have proven they can write their way out of just about anything, but I think they were constrained by limitations imposed before production even began.

  13. Monggerel says:

    Actual leaked script of Ep. 5:

    *Dontnod logo. a V8 thunders to life*
    My name is Max.
    My world is fire and blood.

    • SMGreer says:

      Would be a lot better than the other Mad Max game for sure.

  14. ThomasHL says:

    I agree with a lot of the criticisms, but overall this was my favourite episode. Which is really how Life is Strange has been from me, moment to moment I see all the flaws and mistakes and places they could have been smarter, but none of that matters because I just can’t get the game out of my head and I love all the characters and just want to walk around the world more.

    The criticism I’ll disagree with is time resetting Chloe’s euthanasia decision. Making that decision wrecked me, I had to just sit there thinking for a long time before I made it and it had a lot of weight. But if time hadn’t reset it would have just been too much. I already found it quite difficult to get through, and I think I might had to have just stopped playing if it was done for keeps.

    In general, I’m fine with the whole William alive section _providing the photo power turns up in episode 5_. If it does, then this was a worthy introduction, and it created a powerful moment for Max as well as establishing why something would have to be a big deal for her to ever risk changing time that way. She must already be nearly crushed with having to live through what she saw and not tell anyone – to risk doing something like that again will mean everything is on the line for Max.

    What I like about the Nathan/Jefferson reveal so far, is it doesn’t look like Nathan is off the hook. He was a participant, just not the instigator. After what he did to Chloe it would be too much to say that he’s a completely nice guy in the end.

  15. ribby says:

    I enjoyed the last episode- but not this one. The dialogue still gets to me (it’s especially strange the way it’ll be normal and then suddenly throw in a ton of very awkward references)

    What worries me most is the fact that the last episode ended with a twist that really made it for me. Then this episode removed it completely. (Apparently everyone else knew this was going to happen, but I guess I missed it). Then this episode also ends in a twist- Chloe dies.

    I don’t understand how the story can continue without Chloe. Max is such a passionless character that I can’t picture her driving the story alone. Chloe, whilst I think she’s a total asshole, at least has lots of emotion driving her.

    So now it’s a lose-lose situation. Either they revive her and become cheap, or they don’t and the story struggles. I don’t see a way out of this.

    Overall I’m slightly disappointed in the attention this is getting in comparison to the absolutely wonderful Tales from the Borderlands, which I believe equals the first Walking Dead. I don’t think this game deserves to overshadow it so much.

    • plugav says:

      I don’t think people are talking about Life is Strange rather than Tales because they think it’s the better game. At least I picked LiS up for the same reason I’d picked up Walking Dead – because it was different. Sci-fi comedy’s been done in games, high school drama – not so much. Also, after a somewhat disappointing Fables game, it was interesting to see how someone else would do the Telltale formula.

  16. bonuswavepilot says:

    One day I’ll give this a proper go – until then, I will be here on the sidelines, pedantically correcting your typos:

    “…helping Chloe end her own like you get taken…”
    – Think you’re after ‘life’ rather than ‘like’ here.

    “…the grim reality of a bluei-ish bag in the ground…”
    – Extra ‘i’.

    “…Rachel already being dead carries with is a sense…”
    – ‘Is’ for ‘it’.

    “…the discomfort is important and is possibly the most interesting way it manifests…”
    – Think there’s a ‘this’ missing in there somewhere.

  17. Kala says:

    Gonna be a penis and point out a typo :p “Chloe end her own like” < meant to be life there.

    Re: the idea of Rachel's death feeling like a betrayal and puncturing the idea of a super power that can fix everything, I already felt that in Episode 2 (?) as Kate died on my one. I was trying my hardest to talk her down, but I fluffed it, and she jumped. That really stayed with me and was an incredibly effective emotional punch as every bad decision until then I could just rewind. Now I was stuck with fucking up dramatically when it really counted.

    I also didn't find the assisted suicide choice weightless at all. In fact, my answer initially was "I don't know" and then she made her argument and (after staring at the wall for a while) I had to concede it was the right choice. And it was me making that decision (as much as Max) for a friend. Sure, you can say in a narrative sense, one time line as been abandoned for another, but it was still a choice and it still happened.

    I've been wondering if Life is Strange is playing around with Many Worlds theory – i.e Max isn't really rewinding one time line, she's essentially forking off into another dimension with every choice, but is able to switch between them. So in one of those worlds, a Chloe certainly died. Switching back to a different position hasn't made that not happen, it just didn't happen *here*.

    (…I'm not really sure how that fits with all the butterfly effect stuff, mind :S So maybe not. But either way it happened to me and it happened to Max, so there's consequence in that way :p)

  18. Natanji says:

    I thought it was implied that Nathan’s dad was actually Mr. Jefferson. There is a document/mail somewhere in which Nathan gets scolded by his father for calling him his father at work (I think it was either in the dark room, or in Nathan’s room on his computer). Why would this be a problem, except if “at work” nobody knows Nathan is his son? And why would this have to be a secret, unless Jefferson is working at a place Nathan is connected to – namely, Blackwell Academy?

    Note that at no point there is any indication that Nathan’s dad actually meets up with anyone. He sends letters and threats, but we haven’t seen even a single image of him, and nobody ever claims that they’ve met him.

    • plugav says:

      I’m pretty sure Nathan’s dad exists – it would be a rather absurd twist if that wasn’t the case. I think that Max just mistakenly assumed the message in the dark room was from Mr. Prescott – it wasn’t signed, and yes, it was probably from Jefferson instead.

      Mark was most probably using Nathan to kidnap the girls, so naturally he didn’t want people to think him and the boy were connected – the violent, mentally ill Nathan would be a convenient scapegoat if anything went wrong.

      Or maybe Jefferson is just a pseudonym and the guy is secretly another Prescott?

    • plugav says:

      Oh, and there was at least one image of Sean Prescott in the game: link to i.imgur.com

  19. rmsgrey says:

    As with several other commenters, I found the euthanasia decision to still be a real dilemma despite knowing that the game was very likely to revert to the prime time-line any moment. In fact, that just lent additional weight to the dilemma for me – it takes it from “which decision gives the better game benefits?” to “which decision do I make, knowing that there will never be any consequences to it?” – the whole “who we are in the dark” thing.

    The low point of the episode for me was the conversational maze with Frank – if you insist on getting the best outcome there, then you end up sitting through a lot of the same dialogue to get to the later branch-points after a poor choice. I know there’s supposed to be a fast-forward/skip option when repeating previously seen dialogue, but it seems to make the game unstable on my machine.

    Predictions for Episode 5:

    – The easy one first: Max is going to escape somehow.
    – Mr Jefferson is going to remain a villain.
    – If it turns out the (un)natural disasters are all a result of Max’s constant saving of Chloe’s life, then the decision between saving Chloe and stopping the tornado will be up to the player.
    – Rachel Amber still has some secrets to reveal.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      It was a horrible decision to make, but when it came down to it the actual choice was quite easy. Even if it were an issue about which I felt enough moral certainty to go ahead with it, I could never do it right there and then, without some time to consider, and especially knowing how it would effect her parents. I guess the inability to express how I would actually feel made it seem more shallow.