Last night I finished up Life is Strange and am incredibly sad that I won’t be able to look forward to exploring Arcadia Bay anymore. I can easily say that Life is Strange is one of the best story driven games that I’ve ever played. There were so many memorable moments and characters, and the game affected me emotionally more than any game ever has. I feel like my life has been improved by the experience, and it never felt like mindless entertainment. I’d like to comment more specifically on the game, so I’ll be getting into some spoilers from here on out. If you haven’t played Life is Strange, I highly recommend you stop reading now, because even if you don’t think you’ll ever play it, the experience will be much better if you go into it unaware of what is about to unfold.
Spoilers follow below
Life is Strange took a pretty dramatic turn starting in the third episode and it kept getting stranger and stranger (and also darker) from there on out. One of the things I enjoyed most about the earlier episodes was that so much of the game revolved around everyday life. There were images of the storm to come, but it was mostly a human story early on. Once things first started to get dark (leading to the discovery of the dark room) the game shifted in a way that I’m not quite sure I liked. It was exhilarating to try and figure out what exactly was going on, but as the game got closer to its conclusion I feel like it got just a little too crazy. Part of me wished it would have been just a little more predictable, or a little more grounded, but at the same time at the end of it all it felt like everything fit into place.
One thing I really liked is that in the end you’re faced with two horrible choices. There will be no happy ending no matter what Max chooses, and I like the gravity that this adds to the final choice in the game. There’s no obvious choice, as both will inflict a great deal of sadness on Max and many others. Ultimately I chose to keep Chloe alive as I feel like this was the right choice for Max. It’s no secret that she’s quite selfish in the way that she uses her power, and considering how much of the game centers around trying to help and save Chloe, it seemed like despite the horrible implications for Arcadia Bay, that’s the choice Max would actually make.
I really liked the way the end unfolded after deciding to sacrifice Arcadia Bay, in that Max and Chloe drive off “into the sunset” in a sense, and leave Arcadia Bay behind without looking back. At the same time I feel like it’s a little unbelievable that they seem to show little emotion for what just happened, and it’s not clear that they even bother to check up on any friends or family on the way out of town. Maybe because Max had already seen the scene of destruction play out so many times she was a little numb to it all, and it’s true that she’s already been through such an emotional rollercoaster, I just sort of wished for something more.
One last minor complaint I have is that the optional photo achievement system is still in place during the final two episodes. There was such a gravity and urgency to the situation that I didn’t feel that Max would be interested in taking pictures at all toward the end. I ended up missing most of the final achievements as I wanted to play the game with a sense of urgency, which is somewhat annoying but it only felt right.