NOTE: This review will contain mild spoilers and then will break into major spoilers after the main review. I will make a break in the article to note where the major spoilers start.
I was admittedly worried in the weeks leading up to the release date of Kingdom Hearts III. I mean I’ve been burned several times in the last five years alone from games making a major comeback. The most obvious one for me was Mass Effect: Andromeda, a game that I was 100% positive at the time, that it couldn’t fail. Not only did it fail, it crashed and burned to the point that I’m not sure I can trust BioWare ever again. So with Kingdom Hearts III being not only a similar situation, but one with an even larger gap in time between the last game I played from that series and the game I was about to play.
So when I finally held the copy of the game in my hands, there was a hint of doubt along with the massive amount of joy I was feeling. Then I plopped in that disc, hit ‘New Game’ and the train started a’rollin’!
From the moment the intro cutscene started playing, hearing that orchestrated version of Utada Hikaru’s “Don’t Think Twice”, I felt every bit of nostalgic emotion flooding back into me. I may not remember exactly how I felt playing the original PS2 games, but I felt all the memories of those two games returning back to me. It truly was a “shiver up my spine” level moment and served to pump me up for the 50+ hour journey I would go on.
To put it simply, Kingdom Hearts III for me was a 14-year long wait that was well worth the patience I somehow mustered. With the main story completed and I’d estimate around 75% of the entire game completed in terms of content, I have no problem saying that this game not only was worth the wait, but lived up to any and all expectations I had for the game. That’s not to say it’ll live up to your expectations or anyone else’s mind you, but for me as someone who has learned not to over-hype myself, the game does a damn good job in every single way.
I didn’t play any of the side games really in between KH2 and KH3. I gave Birth By Sleep a try, but I’ve always had a problem getting into handheld games, so I struggled to stay interested on the PSP. Had the game been available later on through the PS TV (if it was, it’s only digital and I didn’t buy a single digital title for that device), I might have given it a shot, same with 358/2 Days, but the interest wasn’t there. So I’m looking at the differences in the series from the PS2-era games and this one. And boy oh boy does the game improve on so many things.
First of, MY GOD THE GAME IS GORGEOUS!!! Timing it perfectly, the game came out just before I moved out to my new apartment, so I started the game on a small 24″ 720p TV and moved to a 53″ 1080p TV, so I’ve seen both levels, aside from 4K, cause good lord that’s still expensive for my budget and at this point there’s no reason to be upgrading to a PS4 Pro anyways. Regardless, as I set before, HOLY FREAKING HELL THIS GAME LOOKS AMAZING!!!
This really hits home in the Disney worlds. Working on the Unreal 4 engine, I can’t imagine playing the older games ever again after seeing how the various worlds look today. Out of all of them though, I couldn’t have been more awestruck than in the Toy Story world, specifically the first time you leave Andy’s house and see the world outside. It really hits home that this is what a current-gen Kingdom Hearts game looks like, after countless games on handheld and mobile devices.
In most cases though, the game transitions between all these worlds seamlessly, mostly retaining the core look of the game, while altering slightly for most worlds, except for the Pirates of the Caribbean world, which has a much more realistic look, aside from Sora and company, of course. That world is also a marvel to look at. Speaking of which…
Since I’m going to talk about the gameplay, might as well start with the bit I’m going to remember the most. The Pirates of the Caribbean world really shows how much the series has evolved. No longer just world after world of smacking around endless respawning waves of Heartless (not that I ever had a problem with that), with small rooms that needed separation through short loading screens. This world alone is massive for what you’re used to in Kingdom Hearts, akin to a fraction of the entire world in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, which the world is basically quite reminiscent of. Ship battles, islands to explore, that world has become in my opinion the most memorable world in the series thus far through its gameplay. And it’s not the only unique one, the Tangled world has some interesting ideas with exploration, though I wish they’d done a little more, the Toy Story world has mechs you can pilot in the world once you enter the toy store that functions as the main dungeon there, hell even the Monsters Inc. world, that I figured I’d just want to breeze through, it ended up being a lot of fun with its various little quirks, like gliding across rails and various doors to go from place to place.
But anyways, enough world gushing, now to gush about the gameplay. In terms of traversing the worlds, not much has changed in that regard. You still walk, run, jump and eventually through leveling up, gain the ability to glide. Oh and I guess there’s the ability TO RUN UP WALLS! It’s the lone notable change in movement and yet it adds so much to each world. Rooftops are easily accessible (see the Big Hero 6 for the primary example of that), battles can actually be waged completely above ground and the overall verticality makes each world feel a lot bigger than the worlds of old, where at best you can jump up to a second floor. Now you run as high up as skyscrapers. I guess there’s also improved underwater fighting, as you see in the Pirates of the Caribbean world, and it is certainly better, but after a small usage of it in the final boss battle, I kinda wish they’d just erased it. Underwater + Kingdom Hearts has always been a bit of a struggle.
The battle system overall however, is no struggle at all. In fact, I’m amazed just how improved everything is. Aside from the absolute fluency through the entire game (never noticed any major framerate drops), the chaotic fighting is very much still around and better than ever. More moves, more abilities, more available options, more strategy (that I don’t use), more fun. Smaller changes of note include three sets of 4 shortcuts, making it easy to organize spells, summons and items without having to go digging through the menu during the heat of battle. You can also cast spells in the air, which is especially helpful during your constant need to heal. MP is also a little different, as battle spells use portions of MP, while a Cure spell or summon takes the entire bar and puts it in a cooldown mode until it refreshes your bar to the full amount. Which means if you can stay out of trouble, you won’t be chastising yourself for not buying one more Ether or Elixir. They’re all nice touches, helping things along while other improvements do the heavy lifting.
For example, Keyblades actually have meaning throughout the entire game. With the ability to upgrade each and every Keyblade, every weapon is viable if you want it to be. Though the Ultima Weapon is back and is still far ahead of the rest, all the other Keyblades are worth something, depending on your style of play. They all also come with special transformations, kind of like the various Forms from Kingdom Hearts II. For example, my favourite Keyblade, the “Favorite Deputy” has three forms, the first being the default Keyblade, the second being a hammer and the third being a drill. I also enjoyed the Pirates of the Caribbean “Wheel of Fate”, especially for its second form, the spear-wielding “Highwind”, naturally intentionally named after Final Fantasy VII party member, Cid Highwind. I didn’t try every Keyblade mind you, specifically the ones geared for magic users, but they all have their quirks. Hell, even the Winnie the Pooh Keyblade has a form that you can use to attack while using the Dodge Roll ability. It’s awesome!
The lone complaint I have is in the extra attacks you can have during battle. Through Goofy, Donald and the Disney party member you get in each world, there’s bonus attacks you can activate, and they’re all fine. It’s a different bonus attack that causes a bit of an issue with me, that being the “Attractions”, which are essentially summons you gain from landing an attack on a specified enemy, which summons a Disney park attraction such as the tea cups, or the pendulum-swinging Pirate Ship. At first, they’re absolutely fine and fun, and in a way they still are, but the problem is that they’re very easy to get and break the flow of battle. I played on Easy mode as well and man oh man are they overpowered. You can’t turn them off either, so the only way to not use them, is to simply ignore them and let the timer run out, which is an eyesore having to stare at that timer for a good 30+ seconds. It’s certainly not a deal breaker, but they could’ve either reduced the amount of times you can pick them up, or at the very least take them out of boss battles. They feel out of place there.
Lastly, the story. Without major spoilers (which I’ll have further below after I end the main review), the story is about what you remember from Kingdom Hearts games. They’re a total mess, you get lost over and over again, and yet you’ll still love the majority of it. The Disney worlds are large in part either re-tellings of the subject material or in Big Hero 6’s case, an original story, post-film. They’re perfectly fine, though the Toy Story and Frozen worlds each miss a great opportunity that could’ve really set them apart from the rest, which again I’ll get into in the spoilers section later on.
The main story however, is certainly a challenge, especially to those not familiar with every bit of lore the series has had. Even after watching videos that tell every ounce of detail I missed in games outside of the PS2-era games, I found myself lost and confused a number of times. Though admittedly, I can’t distinguish between the times I was lost because I didn’t know the material, and the times I was lost because the villains always spoke in riddles. However in the end I did find myself catching up and by the final world of the game I understood everything I had been working towards and thus there were two scenes back-to-back that nearly brought me to tears.
This game closes a lot of stories, ties up a lot of loose ends. This is the end to the “Dark Seeker Saga” with Master Xehanort and Organization XIII, but certainly not the end of the series. There are two major cutscenes at the end that show that we are far from anything being over. Sora’s journey may have only just begun. In the end, I felt satisfied with the ending, a little underwhelmed by the final boss battle, but not to detract from anything. I was left just wanting a tiny bit more.
Like I said at the top, this game was well worth the wait. Massive improvements, a gorgeous looking game, though a few bumps in the story. Which quite honestly, is exactly what Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 were. They were never perfect and I didn’t expect KH3 to be either. What I wanted was a game that I felt was at par with KH2 and I feel I got just that. I honestly can’t tell you which is better, I feel both games offered the same level of emotional value, the difference is the kind of emotions. At age 17 and now 31, I treated the two games differently, KH2 was a wonderful achievement, while KH3 was a massive flood of nostalgia. Neither feel better than the other, they just offered different feelings for me.
The important thing is that both are worth your time, so if you’re a veteran to the series, this game isn’t a disappointment in any regard. And if you’re new, I think this game is still worth looking at. I’d tell you to take a look at the re-packaged older games that are being offered, but if you don’t want to go through 100+ hours of content before playing this game, I think there’s still plenty to enjoy. Just watch a video about the story up to this game so you don’t get too lost and you’ll be fine.
I waited more than a decade for this game and now that it’s over and done with, I cannot wait to see what’s next for one of my favourite series in gaming.
***MAJOR SPOILERS INCOMING!!!***
All right! Let’s get into all the juicy stuff, shall we?!
Who called this son of a bitch being Luxu?! I mean if there’s anything that shocked me right off the bat, it was finding out that Xigbar is the apprentice that the Master of Masters gave that giant black plot device, I mean box to.
By the way, let me make this perfectly clear, I have a vague understanding still of the lore that will be making this new storyline with the Master of Masters in the future games. I know little about him, the six apprentices and other pieces of information relating to that part of the series’ lore. So this first scene was a bit of a wash for me, as I admittedly didn’t get most of what they were saying, though I imagine most of it is the game’s love of speaking nonsense and riddles. Though I’ve seen various hints to what’s to come, like for example the seven pieces that Eraqus put on Xehanort’s side of that game board containing the seven symbols of the aforementioned Master of Masters and his six apprentices, meaning those seven may be our villains in the next game or set of games, depending on how deep this goes.
The secret ending, or the “Yozora” ending is what really intrigues me. I mean, that world is either a The World Ends With You World that would likely mean a DLC sidestory, in my opinion…OR THE NEW GAME WILL HAVE US PLAYING IN OUR OWN WORLD!!! Either way, I’m stoked to see where this goes, but I have to imagine there must be a connection with the Verum Rex game that we see in the Toy Story world and/or The World Ends With You, so I’m more inclined to think this will be either DLC or a small side game.
I mentioned I nearly cried twice during the time I spent playing this game. This beautiful girl is one of the two things that made me well up a bit. The first was Terra’s return, just seeing the three of them together again and especially seeing Aqua truly happy again for what was more than a decade for her, that meant a lot, even if I didn’t know much of the story.
But Xion coming back, being revealed as one of Xehanort’s new Real Organization XIII members, that was a big moment. And then once Roxas made his triumphant return, that was it for me. Watching Xion absolutely break down as not only did she finally see Roxas and company again, but people remembered her, she was no longer a forgotten shadow. Those two moments were awesome and especially being back-to-back like that.
Lastly, I wanted to talk about a few missed opportunities the game had. Right off the bat, HOW DID THEY FUCK UP A POTENTIAL BOSS BATTLE WITH A DARK BUZZ LIGHTYEAR?!!! How awesome would that have been, especially considering this game really went out of its way to not have you fighting Disney villains aside from the Titans in Olympus? It seemed all but set in stone that you were going to have to face Buzz after he got possessed and yet they just made it so that you brought him back to the good side and then faced another big Heartless boss. It was still a good boss fight, but man oh man could’ve a Buzz Lightyear boss battle have been awesome!
Secondly, the Frozen world really fucked up by not having Elsa being your party member. I thought after showing that she could defeat Heartless with her magic, she was a shoe-in to be your party member in the world. Instead, you get shafted with the snow golem she creates to guard her castle and his bonus attack is meh at best. Massive missed opportunity there.
Finally, let’s address there being no Final Fantasy characters at all during the entire game. Unless there’s going to be some DLC arena that includes another ass-kicking from Sephiroth, while I don’t mind there not being a Final Fantasy presence in the story, it really does feel like we’re being cheated out of content with no one being around. Leon, Aerith, Yuffie, Tifa, Cloud, Sephiroth, even Yuna, Rikku and Paige, how are none of them in there after being around for so long?! And come on, it would’ve made so much sense for Cindy to be your Gummi ship mechanic!!!
So that’s everything from me here, folks! If you’ve got anything to say about the game, or if I missed something really important, leave a comment below!
It only took me a fortnight, but I finally got the chance to go into the theater last night and watch the newest Spider-Man film, the first under the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After seeing the new young Peter Parker in action during Captain America: Civil War, I felt safe in Marvel now having their own official Spider-Man film, one that should’ve fixed all the problems the previous films from Spider-Man 3 onwards had caused.
In a way they’ve done this by producing a very fun and comical film, but they still fail to avoid a couple of key mistakes, not to mention creating one major mistake on their own.
Right off the bat, I will admit that with a new Peter Parker, it was quite weird for them to not even briefly show the spider bite and the discovery of his powers. I completely agree with the notion that we didn’t need an entire origin story again, but let’s be honest folks, if this is a younger viewer’s first Spider-Man film, wouldn’t it be a little confusing as to how this high school kid has superpowers? At most, just take a couple minutes to flashback to the beginnings, don’t bother with an Uncle Ben story or anything like that, just show the bite, show his first trial runs with the suit and boom, you’re done.
The actual movie starts off really cool, with a Blair Witch, Cloverfield style view of Peter’s first real mission in the fight against Captain America and others during the events of the Civil War film. It looks cool and gets you nostalgia and ready to go again for a brand new film. From there on, we get a bit of a high school story featuring bullying, the pursuit of romance and…science trivia? I was weirded out a bit by how much time the film actually spends on this Academic Decathlon to be honest.
Admittedly, the film also gets a little weird trying to go in the romance pursuit as they have Laura Harrier who plays Peter’s love interest of the film, Liz. She’s 27 in real life, but we’re to believe at most, Liz is 16 or 17 in the film and yet she’s walking with a bit of cleavage, short skirts and even gets a brief swimsuit scene, albeit it’s a one-piece. It certainly fits in the story of a young Peter Parker who’s growing up and adapting to his newfound powers and pathway through life, but at times I felt like it broke my immersion in the film. I never really felt an attachment to Liz, so when she’s in danger later in the film, I felt zero emotional attachment to anyone except the best friend, Ned, who is a riot throughout the film.
What really irked me throughout the film was the constant beating you over the head with a blunt object about the fact that Peter Parker is a kid. Over and over again, we’re given the “You’re just a kid!” shtick and while it’s done at a key moment and works, it’s also done in extremely minor and pointless moments and just comes off terribly and breaks your immersion in the film every single time, at least it did for me. Yes, we know Spider-Man is technically Spider-Young Man in this current iteration, we didn’t need to be told a hundred times throughout the film.
My last negative comment overall is the new suit. I’m not sure how I feel about Spider-Man now being Spider-Man with Iron Man technology. Sure, they keep the same look to the suit, but adding all these gadgets, camera recording, voice recognition, an AI that Peter names Karen, making this AI his equivalency to Tony Stark’s Jarvis, the new suit to me is too much, too fast. I’ve always remembered Spider-Man as being a superhuman in a suit, whereas in this film, one could argue it’s the suit that makes him superhuman. Yes, the primary ability he has comes from his own body through the radioactive spider bite, but all these other additions now kind of completely changes what Spider-Man is capable of doing. It really does feel like he’s become Tony Stark Jr. with how he’s got Iron Man-like gadgets and of course with the father-like mentoring that Tony’s giving him.
Now that I’m done nitpicking, onto the good stuff. I didn’t ever feel insulted watching this film, that was the biggest takeaway I can have from watching Homecoming, I didn’t at any point in the film think I was watching something made by someone who didn’t care about the license, about the characters. I may have felt they tried to evolve it a little too quickly, but care was definitely taken with this film in making it fit within the confines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and not having it come off like a bastard child. What I mean by that, is that the film does what every other Marvel film aside from the extremely serious Captain America films, it’s funny, has a good time and doesn’t insult the fans by making terrible changes to the canon, or bashing the audience over the head with things as if they’re saying “HEY! LOOK AT THIS! REMEMBER THIS?! WASN’T IT AWESOME?! YOU LOVE THIS RIGHT?! SO YOU LIKE THE MOVIE, RIGHT?!”.
The shining stars of this film are of course Tom Holland as Peter Parker and most importantly, the villain is Michael Keaton as Vulture. Both are fantastic, along with more minor characters like Jacob Batalon (Ned), Zendaya (Michelle) and yes they count as such, Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, who has easily one of the funniest post-credits moments we have seen in the entire stretch of the MCU. But the real standalone for sure was Michael Keaton, who apparently will never stop being good in superhero movies. This time however, I’m seeing him in a villain role and boy oh boy does he sell it well. He slow descent into madness going from a common blue-collar man to a high-rolling weapons dealer, he showcases how desperation and money can change anyone. There is a specific scene (without spoiling anything) between him and Spider-Man that really becomes an uncomfortable and downright terrifying 5-10 minute exchange where you truly do feel for the Peter Parker character. Any person in that situation would be rendered speechless.
Lastly, I enjoyed the overall progression of the story. While I was still bothered by not at least getting a quick refresher without going into a full origin story, the mixture of a high school kid trying to find his place as he starts becoming a young adult and on top of that trying to figure out where he stands as someone capable of fighting crime and making a difference in the world, the film takes its time going through it, rather than rushing through layers and layers of story in an hour flat like a lot of films make the mistake of doing. The progression is natural, albeit a few coincidences that lead to the action sequences beginning, but from start to finish, there really isn’t anything pasted in there that comes off being a last minute entry, time was taken with this script.
In closing I’m going to make one final point about the film. Is the movie good? Absolutely. But the film does not do anything to separate itself and become something over-the-top. The acting is really good and the story’s good, but there’s one big issue in the movie that I just can’t look past, especially when it comes to superhero movies. Zero and I mean zero of the fight sequences in the movie were memorable and honestly, they weren’t really as good as we’ve seen in past Marvel films. Is it a limitation of the characters involved? Perhaps, but when even the final battle is less a fight and more of an airborne struggle for position, while tension is high, the actual fight itself wasn’t that exciting. And that’s my major problem with the overall film, it’s a good movie but there isn’t anything remotely memorable about it. Nothing about the film is better than all the others, it’s not funnier, it’s not more interesting, the fights aren’t better, the story isn’t overly memorable, it’s just a good movie. It’s not a bad thing, but in comparison to many other Marvel films I’ve watched, I can’t rate it nearly as high as many of the others.
I absolutely think if you can catch the movie before it leaves theaters, do it. Just don’t go in expecting the best movie ever. It’s a great Spider-Man movie, that’s all I wanted and that’s what I got. But it’s nowhere near being the best Marvel movie.
When Life Is Strange got put on PS Plus for free, I finally had no excuse not to play this episodic adventure. I will admit that when the game first came out, I was really interested in it, but I couldn’t justify putting money forward, not to mention I was already beyond busy shooting aliens galore in the latest Destiny expansion I was running around in. But with it being free and with a quiet period going on as I wait for Destiny 2, it made perfect sense to finally get a hold of this teenage adventure and see what it had for me.
Holy shit, I was not prepared for what I saw!
***MAJOR SPOILERS FROM THE ENTIRE GAME WILL BE CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!***
Upon the start of Episode 1, the general world is pretty straightforward. You’re a teenage girl with teenage problems. Oh, and you have time travel powers! And that’s what brings the game’s core strengths into the forefront, the ability to see all the outcomes of major decisions and then decide on what’s the right one. In many ways, you’d almost think of this as a way to break the immersion of this type of game, after all how would you play a game like the Telltale Walking Dead games if you could see what would happen for the next 15 seconds? But in Life Is Strange, this mechanic fleshes out the story and makes your decisions really count, because the consequences of each decision isn’t necessarily marred in who lives and who dies, it’s purely on the basis of how certain people will feel about you and act around you in the future. By helping people, you might save yourself some trouble later in the game, while if you’re an asshole to people, you could make the following chapters hell for yourself and may even lose people along the way.
Enter Max, the main character of the game. While she certainly knows how to pick her best friends (I’ll get into her later), Max herself is a difficult character for me to judge. Beyond my gender being the complete opposite of hers, I found it extremely hard to place myself into her shoes as this went on. I could associate with her feeling left out, like an outcast, a target of bullying, but in terms of her thought processes and such, I had a real struggle on my hands trying to make the decision that fit my train of thought the best. At times I felt Max was being completely unreasonable and I was making decisions that didn’t make any sense to me. In the final chapter when she knows the full truth of things, the way she talks to a certain person is completely different from how she’s talked to anyone before and really makes her look stupid given the situation she finds herself in.
Thankfully, the story does a good enough job at keeping you more than fully invested through the difficult sections of Max’s narrative. This is usually large in part due to the amazing character of Chloe Price (voice acted by Ashly Burch, shame she won’t in the prequel due to the SAG-AFTRA strike) who pretty much keeps the plot together through the annoying and pretentious sections of the game. The game is pretty much a two-person game, Max and Chloe are the center stage of the game, I didn’t feel like anyone (including the villains) stood out and in some cases like Daniel and Samuel, there were characters that I thought needed a complete overhaul as they came off just so uninteresting and unimportant. Granted, the story revolves around a school campus, so of course there will be dull and annoying characters, but in the confines of a fictional video game, steps could have been taken to make them a little more interesting.
Speaking of that, the first major point where the game starts to take the kid gloves off happens in Chapter 2 where fellow student Kate Marsh attempts to commit suicide after a long run of bullying after a video of her making out at a party goes viral. Taking the truth of what happened aside (we’ll get to that when we get to the final chapter), this chapter gives off the same feeling I got during the Kamoshida chapter of Persona 5, that really gross and disgusting feeling you get seeing someone go so far down in the dumps that jumping off a roof seems like the only logical outcome to make. I was convinced that Max was too late, that her power only worked so much, that this point in the game was going to be where the game explains to you that you’re not the hero that can save everyone. Instead, the game gives you a new ability (that you only use once, more on that later) to stop time and in the end, I managed to save her, though it is still possible to mess that up and she dies anyway and you can’t reverse it. Regardless of the random solution to the situation, it was a moment where I spent time considering each thing I said to Kate, positive that one false move and there’d be a pile of human flesh on the asphalt below.
Where the game truly frustrates me comes in Chapter 3. Taking away the fun of having a pool party with Max and Chloe (in her awesome underwear), the tail end of the chapter brings up my major problem with the game (aside from the controversial ending). At the end, another power arises with Max where she can stare at a photo she’s in and transport herself back in time to that picture. She does so and ends up moments before Chloe’s father leaves and is killed in a car accident, a moment that completely changes Chloe into the punk badass we know and love. In order to make a shocking moment at the very end and thus lead into Chapter 4, you are forced to save his life, even though anyone who understands time travel knows just how massive changing an event that took place five years ago will change everything.
In order to push the narrative that eventually leads into a “you can’t change history without consequences” kind of story towards the end of the game, you’re forced to make a major decision. Episodic games are supposed to give you the freedom to at least choose an “A or B” level of decision, but in this moment, arguably one of the most important decisions in the entire game, there’s only one option: you have to save William’s life. As we find out at the end, leading into Chapter 4, all this does is change who dies, as Chloe not long after gets paralyzed from the neck down and will eventually die, whether you make the out of nowhere decision to commit assisted suicide for her or not. By the end of Chapter 3 with you being forced to save Chloe’s father and end up paralyzing her in this alternate timeline, this is the moment when the game starts losing me and starts to become extremely pretentious.
What I hated the most though was that this was the second major missed opportunity to tell a much more interesting narrative towards Max’s time travel powers. The game instead decided to turn this into a “you tried to be the hero and look what you did!” kind of game, a la Spec Ops: The Line, which was cool the first time, but in retrospect, it’s a completely pretentious way to tell a story in a video game. Of course we want to be the hero and save everyone, it’s a natural instinct the majority of us have, why chastise us for it? But what the game really missed out on by telling the story it wants to, is they had two instances where it could’ve told you point blank that you can’t save everyone. While I liked Kate Marsh and William Price is an awesome father, by forcing you to watch them die and show that you are still powerless in the end, it would be a fantastic piece of storytelling where yes, you have time travel powers, but you can’t control them completely, thus there will be times you cannot use them to accomplish what you want to do. Kate dying would’ve been a great starting point for this, but if you want to keep that tense ending of Chapter 2, then being unable to stop William from leaving to his eventual death would’ve been the perfect way to show the player this. But instead we had to revert Chloe into a boring, lifeless figure for half an episode.
***LAST CHANCE, SPOILERS FOR THE END OF THE GAME ARE BELOW!!!***
Speaking of a lifeless Chloe, enter the end of Chapter 4. I would love to know how many people had no idea that Mark Jefferson would become a part of the events that caused so much trouble, let alone being the actual one responsible for all the missing girls and presumably deaths of said girls, though we can attribute Nathan Prescott to Rachel Amber at least. We don’t know what happens to any of the girls he does what he does to Max and Kate beyond Kate Marsh, as we’re never told, which is extremely irritating, because if all these girls suffered through this and Max was awake enough to notice who he was, how did no other girl who survived this (Kate included) identify him? The entirety of Chapter 5 is extremely frustrating though and I’ll get into that after I finish with Jefferson here. The uncomfortable vibes of this section of the game with him taking pictures of a tied up, drugged and scared Max really puts you in the worst possible place. While games like Walking Dead put you into more sad, depressing or rage-inducing sections, this is the first episodic game that really put me into an uncomfortable, disgusted state of mind. And props to Dontnod for that, because they were willing to go down a road that you know the vast majority of game creators would never dare to go down. The one step away from rape nature (though what Jefferson does might as well be just that) the game brings in this moment truly makes him an easily despised character that you’re more than happy to see get his shit pushed in.
After the ridiculous transportation through various alternate realities, only to end up back in the real timeline where you’re supposed to die by Jefferson’s hand, you’re saved by a person who through the entire game is a giant asshole, David Madsen. From this point on, the game in my opinion goes full retard and becomes a pointless mess. Whether he kills Jefferson or not, it doesn’t matter as you just go back in time once more just to reverse everything one more time. Along the way, you watch people die that should elicit a reaction, but they don’t because again, you just go back in time anyways towards what will be the final decision that truly writes the actual story of the game.
And here we are at the ending. Before I even get into the ending itself, here’s my biggest problem with the game. Everything you do from Chapter 1 to the final moments of the game, whether it’s saving Kate Marsh, being nice to Victoria (doesn’t matter, you can’t save her in that timeline no matter what), dealing with the bullshit of what happens when you go back and save William, hell even whether you decide whether Jefferson dies or goes to jail, all it doesn’t matter because the final decision of the game wipes it all away, one way or another.
The game decides to tell you that everything that has happened is your fault, because you had to use your time travel powers. The game actively tells you that you’re an idiot for using something given to you and by doing so, you’ve fucked up everyone and everything. Even worse, the game tells you that the only way to fix everything is to kill your best friend and realistically the only, truly likable character in the entire game.
So basically this is your final decision in the game:
- Sacrifice the girl you’ve been trying to save the entire game by going back in time and letting her be killed in the opening moments of the game, thus erasing everything you have done up until this point.
- Allow the tornado to destroy the entire town, leaving only you and Chloe alive, thus erasing any point in all the decisions you’ve made as you’ll have essentially sentenced every person you’ve met in Arcadia Bay to death.
That’s it, you have two choices and both of them completely erase everything you’ve done leading up to that point, all your decisions, all the relationships you’ve cultivated, everything. It’s all gone. Poof, whether through a time paradox or a tornado, it’s all gone. It was pointless, a waste of time.
And you know what? I told “destiny” to go fuck itself and save Chloe, because even though I would normally save multiple lives at the cost of the one, the entire game has you trying to save a single character, why would I ever deviate from the point now? What’s even more ridiculous is the idea that because Chloe dies, the game tries to tell you that her death signals the end of Nathan Prescott, Mark Jefferson and apparently the tornado will never happen. What facts does the game show that this is the case? Why would I believe that just because I didn’t let Chloe get shot in that bathroom, that the apocalypse comes to Arcadia Bay? I have no reason to believe that Chloe’s death signifies anything, considering Max gets her vision of the tornado and her powers before Chloe is killed. So in my mind, everything after that vision has nothing to do with Max’s actions beyond that, as far as I’m concerned, the tornado was going to happen, in the same way all the accidents at the beginning of Final Destination movies happen.
So I left the game quite frustrated and underwhelmed by a poor ending and now after watching Dontnod’s 20-minute gameplay showing of the prequel Life Is Strange: Before The Storm, I’m very troubled with being interested in this game showing the relationship between Chloe and Rachel. The loss of time travel is a huge negative, as it was an extremely interesting mechanic with this original game, but also the vibes I’m getting from the game are coming off even more pretentious than ever. So I’m certainly not reaching to put money forward on this Life Is Strange game either.
In the end, I liked Life Is Strange for what it is, an episode adventure with an extremely interesting concept and a story that pushes boundaries into directions not many games are willing to go into. It felt real at times. But along the way, there are a ton of stupid mistakes and missed opportunities that are mad that really break me away from the game the more I think about it. The story is really good up until the end when it shits itself and erases everything. Time travel is such a difficult beast and while the writers of this game had good intentions, they didn’t quite know how to write it properly and thus the game suffers tremendously for it. It’s not a bad game by any stretch, but man oh man did this game crash hard at the end!