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Life is Strange EP5: Knock Over All the Things

By Shamus
on Thursday Apr 20, 2017
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

We already gave our answers in the show, but I’m curious what everyone else thinks: This game featured fewer puzzles in the later chapters. Do you think this is due to general corner-cutting, or was it a deliberate response to the player base?

Is clumsily knocking things over supposed to be a major theme in this game? In this episode alone Max broke the snowglobe, dropped the pictures into the oil, and dropped that gizmo behind the washer. Also, there was the anecdote about knocking over the wine bottle.

Comments (31)

  1. Rivlien says:

    In retrospect I have a lot of issues with this game for reasons that pop up later in it. But I genuinely like and care for the characters quite a bit. The game is good at humanizing them, I end up caring for these strange hipsters and I end up interested in their conflicts and lives.

    Even if they are all a bunch of hipsters. Even the non hipstery ones.

    Especially the non hipstery ones.

    • Stu Hacking says:

      I found the game itself mechanically frustrating to play, but my interest in the characters and story was enough to drag me through it. (I genuinely did enjoy that aspect.)

  2. Ninety-Three says:

    As Rutskarn pointed out, the last episode had some shitty puzzles, which seems like an argument against “They stopped the puzzles based on feedback”. Then again, if they stopped because they ran out of ideas, they clearly didn’t have any good ideas left so why did they force themselves to come up with shitty ones for ep 5?

    The final episode was rushed, so maybe they really did stop based on feedback, and the later puzzles were just there because they desperately needed to pad out an episode that was already behind schedule. Then again, the “included puzzles later because they were desperate for content” explanation works equally well for the theory that they ran out of good puzzle ideas.

    Idea: If they were listening to feedback, the later episodes would contain less use of “hella”, and similar teenspeak the game was criticized for. If the later episodes keep up the teenspeak, then they probably just stopped the puzzles because they ran out of ideas.

    • Christopher says:

      I believe at some point a character explicitly makes fun of “hella” in the last episode.

      The reason for the puzzles in the last episode is probably because they fit with the situation they’re in. There are two straight up “boss fights”. One is conversation, the other is a mix of conversaton and.. I suppose puzzle solving. The other types of puzzles were supernatural in nature, without spoiling, and I felt they were a good alternative to just a straight up dream cutscene.
      The first episode is as bad as it gets as far as I’m concerned, and I think that was in response to the playerbase. The puzzle here feels as classic point & click adventure as it gets, and without wishing to get into a fight, there are people who like story-focused games and can’t freaking stand classic point & click adventure games puzzles. More now than there used to be, I think, as a lot of adventure games have moved into the Telltale territory.

  3. Henson says:

    Are there fewer puzzles in later episodes? I’m not sure that’s true.

    • Jokerman says:

      Yeah… i am not sure that is true either, they stand out to me as well… dealing with angry frank and his dog, dealing with angry frank later too, getting out of that bit of trouble you are in at the end of episode 4, they still show up… i like some of them, some work on weird logic sure, but i liked playing with the rewind to work it out, felt new…

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Same.There are a few puzzles in all of the episodes.It just seems like there are fewer of them because in some other episodes the puzzles use less moon logic.

  4. Daniel England says:

    So Chole outright states that her conflict is abandonment. Probably not how I would have written that kind of conflict, but sometimes teenagers know exactly what’s up with themselves so whatever. This also makes the ending decision kinda… I dunno. In my opinion, the ending mostly ruins any attempt at character arcs as well as most of the game’s thematic momentum, and doesn’t really do anything to make up for that loss. But we’ll have to wait, for that. It’s really frustrating when everything this game potentially does right can be undone by the ending. Though, once again, the ending did not work for me, ymmv.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Chloe is a dumb teen.She thinks her father abandoned her because he died,and that her mother abandoned her because she dared to remarry.Its understandable for a dumb teen to feel like that,even if its outright wrong.So its realistic.

    • Zekiel says:

      I felt Chloe was pretty realistic. Just because she recognises her issue is abandonment doesn’t mean she can ignore the emotional damage done by her dad’s death at a crucial age.

      As for the ending – Max’s character arc is definitely not undone by the ending (at least, not the ending I chose) and I would argue that Chloe’s isn’t either. Thought YMMV on that depending on your philosophy!

  5. Gruhunchously says:

    I have to agree that the lighting in this game is absolutely gorgeous, both in how it’s used and the engine behind it. The way it conveys the tone, atmosphere even subtle distinctions in the time of day is pretty darn masterful much of the time. Many otherwise mediocre looking scenes and locals are massively elevated due to the lighting; it’s probably the single most impressive aspect of the art direction. The shadows, too, are very well done – clean and crisp in a way that many procedural game shadows aren’t.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Rutskarn,max does recognize the security guard.Her comment is that in the picture he does not look like the asshole she knows he is in real life.

  7. MichaelGC says:

    I found one interview where they said this:

    However, the episodic release also allowed us to adjust some details ““ to improve on some elements based on what we figured out during the production (puzzles, framing, dialogue, etc). Also we’ve looked a lot at the players’ reception online, and we were able to do some small adjustments. For example, we were able to add more dialogue with characters the community really liked.

    Although that said, I found another where someone said:

    While Life is Strange is a story based game, it does contain some puzzle sections. Jean denies that they will overpower the other elements within the game.

    “Life is Strange is definitely not a puzzle game, instead it emphasises the story, your choices and the characters. There are some puzzle sections though and they will grow more complex throughout the game. My favourite ones are the ones that involve talking to people, learning something about them and then convincing them, manipulating them, and you know you can combine that with the more space orientated ones.”

    Which strikes me as … mostly cobblers? I’ve not played the game, though. And interestingly the second quote is from January 2015, whilst the first quote is from December 2015, so that might explain its apparent greater claim to … accuracy.

    • Zekiel says:

      Which part do you think is cobblers? It seems pretty fair to me. I wouldn’t describe it as a puzzle game (rather a story game that contains some puzzles) and I felt like the puzzles gradually got more complex. The one in episode 4 is probably the best one.

      • MichaelGC says:

        I was basing that off the comments in the episode, and Shamus’ statement above that there are fewer puzzles in the later chapters. In that context it sounded very marketing-speaky.

        As I say, though, I haven’t played the game myself, and from some of the other comments here it does appear I was unfair, and that it’s much more accurate than I was crediting. Gruhunchously’s point down below I found particularly interesting – that the number of puzzles stays the same, but that they stand out less because they’re integrated better.

  8. Lachlan the Mad says:

    I’m pretty sure that the game explicitly makes fun of this constantly repeated knocking-things-over puzzle, I think in Episode 3? You’re grabbing a thing from a high place and Max says something about how she should probably just stand on a chair to get it?

  9. MichaelGC says:

    I guess clumsily breaking stuff is kinda thematically appropriate for someone going through an awkward growing phase? We are supposed to be clumsy in adolescence, as our physical form is changing shape quicker than our brain map of that form manages to update itself.

    So it’s a metaphor for Max’s burst of mental growth as a person, I guess, albeit itself a rather clumsy one! That said, I suppose it does make additional sense to have it in there in this particular instance, given the ‘rewind-time’ mechanic.

    • Syal says:

      Clumsily breaking stuff is the theme of pretty much every time travel story.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Really?I dont remember Bill Murray being particularly clumsy.And the time machine guy practically never breaks anything(maybe in some film incarnations).

        • Syal says:

          If I’m remembering right, the Time Machine was all about traveling forward in time. Those are basically dark prophecy stories more than time travel; the past is fixed, the future is grim, do somethin’ about it. Bill Murray was stuck repeating the same day with no control over how or why, which is more of a divine punishment story than traditional time travel.

          Maybe I should have thrown “past” in there somwhere. Past time travel is pretty much always some variation of “I can fix this oh shit I just broke eight things”.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Its not that common of a trope actually.Twelve monkeys,both the movie and the tv show,are not about that.Continuum ends up fixing its past from a dystopia.And the precursor to all of them,the end of eternity,is about a bunch of people competing to make the future into what they think is the best outcome for humanity.

            Funnily,Ive seen the “break the past accidentally” trope more often as a comedic subversion than as a straight up plot device.Its perceived as the most popular because back to the future is the most well known time travel story.

            • Syal says:

              Funnily,Ive seen the “break the past accidentally” trope more often as a comedic subversion than as a straight up plot device.

              You must watch a higher class of time travel movie than I do. (I’ve only seen Twelve Monkeys from your list and it’s weird enough I’m confused as to whether it counts for me or against me.)

              I’m thinking of The Butterfly Effect, Frequency, Back To The Future, a Sound of Thunder, that one B-movie I didn’t catch the title of where time travellers go back to watch famous disasters but a past guy catches on to them and stops all the disasters which unmakes the future, and Primer (…I think).

              There are also the stories about saving the past from other time travellers breaking things, like Timeline, Edge of Tomorrow, Terminator, Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch and Chrono Trigger.

              Also the Zero Escape games are all bonkers plots about time travel causng itself or something, those have got to count.

  10. Abnaxis says:

    I realize this is probably beating a dead horse by now, but the change from puzzle-heavy to fewer puzzles happened in TWD, and is exactly why I don’t want to call these things video games. They get better when they stop TRYING to be video games–when they drop any and all superfluous mechanical systems and just focus on telling a story. That’s what I think happened in the course of TWD’s development, and what I think happened with Life is Strange as well–the developers basically came to the natural realization that they shouldn’t be trying to make a game.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Or,they are video games,only they found that the mechanics for doing puzzle stuff does not fit with what they try to accomplish,so they focus on other stuff(conversations).Just how first person shooters stoped cramming in platforming stuff and focused more on actual shooting.Im pretty sure that back in the 90s some people argued that games without jumping death pits of death arent real video games.

    • Gruhunchously says:

      I don’t think that it’s strictly accurate to say that they drop the puzzles as the series goes on like The Walking Dead did. Episodes three and four have quite a few: breaking into the principals office, getting frank’s keys, finding the location of the Dark Room, opening the door to the Dark Room. and getting inside the Vortex Club’s inner sanctum. Even the conversations withKate and Frank can be considered puzzles. You just notice these puzzle less because they integrate better into the story, they’re either directly relevant to the plot, or use the emotional momentum of the story to carry themselves along.

      • Abnaxis says:

        I guess it would have been better to say “stop trying to make an adventure game” instead of “drop the puzzles.” Basically, people aren’t showing up for the puzzles, they’re showing up for the story, so never include the former unless it enhances the latter. That’s what differentiates something like LiS from a game.

        • Chris says:

          But… the game does have puzzles. So even by your logic, it’s a game.

          • Henson says:

            At the risk of reviving the tired ‘Wot’s a Game?’ discussion, I think you’re misinterpreting Abnaxis’ argument. I hope I’m not putting words into his mouth, but his criteria for ‘game’ is not simply ‘has puzzles’, but rather ‘has puzzles that are worthy of attention outside the context of the story’. For him, the approach to puzzles in Life is Strange do not meet this criteria, and so then the focus should be less on the puzzles themselves than on how the puzzles enhance the story.

    • Benjamin Hilton says:

      I disagree that this is not a videogame. In fact I would say that this has more videogamy-ness than Call of Duty, simply because the actions of the player have more impact on the narrative. I don’t care about puzzles or quick time events or what have you. To me what separates a game from another type of medium is the players ability to have input, that the story is indelibly different for having the player make choices as opposed to movies. That certainly qualifies this as a game.

  11. Matthew Melange says:

    Note: I tried posting this on the two more relevant and later spoiler warning blog posts but the comment section was not viewable on the web page.

    It’s a shame that this is the episode that ended spoiler warning. I’ve read both blog posts and don’t have a 100% clear view of what went on but I have a vague enough clue over the disagreement between comment moderation. I somewhat wish they could point to specific comments. I glossed over the comment section debating validity/horror of domestic abuse. Honestly I kind of side with Shamus over the rest of the crew. I think that even if people are doing strawman arguments of things I disagree with, they should still be allowed to make those comments but I also believe that religion and politics should be allowed for discussion. I’m just a very socially liberal person so maximum personal freedoms is a big thing to me. The thing that scares me the most is that I mostly come to this site for the spoiler warning and diecast stuff. I only read the other things when there’s not a new post of the videos. I worry that this site will kind of become what the escapist used to be to me. A site that I would go to regularly to look at my main content interests and occassionally read about other topics. Once my main interests left in the exodus of the escapist in 20`14 ish, I stopped visiting the site as frequently. Eitherway this has been an enjoyable site to me and although Shamus is no longer a cast member of the show and will not be posting it on his site, I hope that sometime he can be a guest.

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