Warning: Do not read this review if you have yet to play the previous episodes in Life is Strange or have an interest in playing this game. This review has spoilers for the game so viewer discretion is advised.
Two days after playing the fifth episode in Life is Strange, I am still recovering.
I previously wrote a post on Life is Strange, which can be viewed here. However, after the fifth episode came out on October 20th, I decided I wanted to write another post about the game. I want to focus not only my thoughts on this episode but on the game overall now that the final episode for this season is out.
But first, let’s talk about Episode 5: Polarized. This episode comes right after Max Caulfield gets drugged by Mr. Jefferson in the junkyard and watches her best friend Chloe get shot. The player wakes up in the dark room, where Jefferson with the help of Nathan has been luring his victims to take photographs. You then go through a series of timelines where you go back to try and stop Jefferson from drugging you and shooting Chloe. However, you soon realize that you haven’t fixed everything yet. The tornado is still going to hit Arcadia Bay so Max tries to figure out a way to stop Jefferson and the tornado. However, she quickly realizes that she can’t stop the tornado without sacrificing Chloe’s life.
In this episode, the gameplay is pretty amazing. Most of the decisions you have to make are big ones that impact what other characters do. Some of these choices you can’t undo. Whenever you make the final decision at the end of the game whether to go back in time and let Chloe get shot, the fate of Arcadia Bay is placed in your hands. You can choose to let Chloe live if you wish, but Arcadia Bay will remain destroyed.
But that is one of the many aspects of the gameplay in this episode the player gets to enjoy. At one point in this episode, Max passes out and has a terrible nightmare. This nightmare reflects on a lot of the choices you have made up to this point. What I love about this part of Life is Strange is how this shows Max’s inner turmoil on the decisions she’s had to make with her rewind power. She knows she hasn’t made the best decisions and this nightmare reflects on that. However, I also see the nightmare as a foreshadowing for the end of the game. Whenever Max goes into the diner where everyone in Arcadia Bay is and faces herself saying mean things, this is a hint that she should choose to sacrifice Chloe and let everyone else live. This part of the episode can be contrasted with Max walking through her special moments with Chloe since returning to Arcadia Bay. That part of the nightmare is where Max’s subconscious is telling her to let Chloe live, even if it means everyone else in Arcadia Bay is gone. I enjoyed the nightmare scenes because of how they allow the player into her subconscious and found them to be very submersive.
However, there are also aspects of Life is Strange episode 5 that I didn’t enjoy.
One of the things I didn’t like was how they structured the plot. I found that there were too many cut scenes then needed. Whenever Max ends up going to San Francisco because she won the Everyday Heroes contest, I felt as if that wasn’t needed. While it’s nice knowing that one day she could end up an artist, I felt that they could’ve taken that out and fleshed out the game more.
This episode also didn’t flow as smoothly as the others. It felt very choppy to me as if they were adding scenes into the game because they didn’t know what direction they wanted it to go. And while I did enjoy playing in Max’s nightmare, I don’t think that was needed as well. I felt like it was placed in the game as filter so that we could get a better understanding of Max’s character and so we could get a hint of the two possible ways the game was going to end.
Overall, while this episode in Life is Strange wasn’t my favorite, the game as a whole I really enjoyed. I felt as if the creators of this game did a really good job of creating a story with a diverse cast of characters. The game also goes into heavy discussion about topics most people shy away from, which allowed me to enjoy it on a more personal level. I quickly became attached to the characters and felt as if I were walking in Max’s shoes.
While I enjoyed my gaming experience with Life is Strange, there is talk that there will be a second season. Even though I can’t deny or confirm this information, if a second season does come out, I will definitely be playing it and write another post about Life is Strange in the near future.