Here we are at the final episode (Life is Strange Episode 5 – Polarized) to what has been the most shocking and emotionally packed episodic game I have experienced this year. Every episode left me more intrigued than the last, putting me in awe and contemplating about the game even after I put my controller down. Episode 4 ended with a twist that revealed something everybody pondered about from the very beginning – that is, who the heck the evil mastermind in Arcadia Bay is. It was through the two month wait for the final episode where most thought of various possibilities as to what would happen to Max Caulfield and what the conclusion to the game could be. While I can’t say that I’m glad the game has come to a close, what I can say is that we have a solid ending to one of the best adventures I’ve ever taken.
Episode 5, unlike previous episodes, does not heavily rely on the choices you make. Instead, a majority of episode 5 consists of sitting through dialogue or progressing through a linear sequence. You definitely make use of Max’s rewinding ability, but in a straight-forward and one-way fashion. It’s only until the very end where a single choice decides what ending you obtain. Nonetheless, even though this episode is more on the cinematic side, all the choices you’ve made throughout the game pours into the astounding detail and sheer creativity presented within episode 5.
Going through the various dialogues and linear sequences is how the game reveals all the little secrets it’s been hiding from us, and also to project the mental state Max is in. In a viciously twisted way, the episode shows how Max has matured all while facing her fears, instabilities, and insecurities head-on. She’s conflicted and questioning herself as well as the people around her due to seeing and hearing things that can easily send chills down anyone’s spine – not to mention Max’s spine.
The abundance of detail and creativity is seen through the various items you can interact with by choosing to “Look” at them. What makes this specific episode full of detail and creativity is that things are dynamic and not exactly what they seem (or used to be). For example, an etched message on a desk can say one thing when you first look at it, but something different the second, or even third time you look at it. In addition, the same rooms you were in during previous episodes may look the same at first glance, but further exploration and interaction with the items in them prove differently. Playing through this episode made me feel like I was watching the movie ‘Inception’ all over again, with the exception that Max Caulfield takes on the lead role.
“Life is Strange is, without a doubt, one of the most unique episodic choice-based games to date.”
Without spoiling too much of the ending, I’ll just say it’s satisfying in the long-term. It ties up loose ends and concludes in a way that allows us to reminisce about the world of Life is Strange. It isn’t over-the-top or extremely surprising, but the choices and subsequent endings that follow parallel with a route most of us are familiar with. I think the overwhelming feeling of the game finishing, at first, makes everything feel surreal, leading us to ask “is the game really over?” and even into a bit of denial. But after overcoming that initial “end-of-game blues”, you come to appreciate the adventure as a whole.
This being an episodic game, the sound and visuals are basically unchanged with the exception of new music. Everything is still on par with the first episode with the music still being extremely enjoyable and voice acting as good as it can get; however, you guessed it, the issue with lip-syncing still exists.
Life is Strange has closed its curtains after giving us a marvellous show. While the ending is satisfying, Life is Strange Episode 5 “Polarized” isn’t the strongest episode of the entire series. It does; however, offer a nice close to a worthy adventure. Life is Strange is, without a doubt, one of the most unique episodic choice-based games to date. Anyone who enjoys the genre should give a try. On the other hand, if you simply just want to rewind time and see where that brings you, Life is Strange is your chance to do so.
***A PS4 code was provided by the Publisher***
- Excellent detail
- Loads of creativity
- Great atmosphere
- Satisfying ending
- Loose ends are tied
- Lip-syncing issue
- Cinematic overkill