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First Impressions: Life is Strange Episode 5: Polarized

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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.

Making the decision to sacrifice Arcadia Bay means Chloe lives but the town still gets hit by the tornado, resulting in everyone else dying.
Making the decision to sacrifice Arcadia Bay means Chloe lives but the town still gets hit by the tornado, resulting in everyone else dying.
Or you could let Chloe die and the town will be alright. You’ll even get to see the blue butterfly one last time.
Or you could let Chloe die and the town will be alright. You’ll even get to see the blue butterfly one last time.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

First Impressions: Life is Strange

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Released on Jan. 29, 2015, Life is Strange is an environmental interactive adventure video game. Developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Square Enix, Life is Strange is from the perspective of Max, a regular senior photography student at Blackwell Academy who discovers she can rewind time when she saves her best friend Chloe from being shot. As the two best friends figure out a way for Max to use her powers, they discover something strange is going on in Arcadia Bay. Together, they work to figure it out through finding out what happened to a missing Blackwell Academy student.

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Max’s room in Life is Strange.

Life is Strange is a game that allows the player to rewind time. By rewinding time, the player is able to relive social interactions and change their decisions, which results in different consequences for Max in the game. This allows the player to relieve a variety of different endings for the game. Life is Strange is also divided into a total of five episodes, which gives the player the opportunity to change their decisions in the episodes if they want.

When I first started playing Life is Strange, I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of it. I knew it was a game that I wanted to play, but didn’t know what my feelings were going to be towards it after playing. But since I’ve started Life is Strange, I’ve gotten nothing but pure enjoyment from playing it. I’ve enjoyed Life is Strange since playing it because I love the high school vibe the game gives the player. You get to play as a high school student who is trying to figure out what to do with her new powers while still trying to get through everyday life. Max not only has to deal with how to handle her new powers, but how to deal with issues at school, such as bullying, suicide, rape, and abuse. These issues bring Life is Strange to a new level that hasn’t been explored in other video games and I enjoy seeing these issues brought to life in this game.

The heart wrenching scene with Kate in Life is Strange. Those who’ve played know what’s going on here. The choice you make here determines what happens to her next.
The heart wrenching scene with Kate in Life is Strange. Those who’ve played know what’s going on here. The choice you make here determines what happens to her next.

Another component to Life is Strange that I really enjoy is seeing how the choices you make in the game impacts the other characters. As I mentioned earlier, there are many different choices you can make when in uncomfortable social situations with Max. However, the choice you decide to stick with is what determines what’s going to happen later in the game. I love this aspect to the game because you can rewind time after having those uncomfortable conversations and make a different decision and then see how it plays out. It really brings to the surface the saying that “actions have consequences.”

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Life is Strange is also an enjoyable game to me because I like how you can interact with the environment. From looking at an object to taking pictures of the world around you, there are so many little things as the player that you can look at that I find to be a charming aspect in this game. By looking at these objects and taking pictures, you are able to add more material to Max’s journal so that you get one step closer to collecting everything in Life is Strange.

The one thing in Life is Strange I don’t particularly care for are the controls. While moving Max around isn’t too bad, I find that whenever I play, there are a lot of times my game lags and I feel like I’m unable to do anything. It also affects my social interactions too because whenever I talk to people in the game, they sometimes say the same word over again two or three times during dialogue. I know that’s an issue I can’t control, but I don’t really like the controls for Life is Strange because of it.

Overall, I enjoy playing Life is Strange. The game has a lot to offer to those interested in playing and I would recommend this game to anyone interested. However, for those who aren’t comfortable with playing a game that deals with issues such as rape, abuse, suicide, bullying, and violence or don’t want to play a game that is very emotion heavy, I don’t recommend Life is Strange to you. For now though, I look forward to continue playing Life is Strange and seeing what’s going to happen next to Max and Chloe with the decisions I have made.

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