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“Life is Strange, Episode 5: Polarized” Review

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Drugs and photography are bliss in Life is Strange.

Life is Strange has come a long way since its first episode.  What started out as sort of a guilty gaming pleasure has ended up becoming a regular point of serious gaming discussion because of its challenges on naive morality combined with its engaging twists and turns.  Unfortunately, it all comes to an end that’ll leave players polarized as to how good the finale actually was.

What Is It?

As expected, Polarized begins right where Dark Room left off.  Max and Chloe seemed to have uncovered the details surrounding one of the plot’s biggest mysteries only for more tragedy to occur, putting the two in a situation it seems they’ll never get out of.

Of course, you’re Max Caulfield, time master.

That is until you realize Max is anything but a master of time.

Why Should I Care?

More so than any other episode, Polarized makes extensive use of her ability to travel back to specific points in time simply by focusing on a picture.  As we learned since she first used the ability in Chaos Theory, it takes quite a toll on her body, which can lead players to believe that only the worst kind of tragedy is bound to strike by the time the game ends — for better or for worse.

Oh yeah, there's a bad storm brewing in Arcadia Bay. We're finally told why, but not exactly how.

Oh yeah, there’s a bad storm brewing in Arcadia Bay. We’re finally told why, but not exactly how.

The feeling you have playing is comparable to watching all of Paul Walker’s action scenes in Furious 7.  “Is this where he dies?  Do they even kill him?”  Will they or won’t they?

But Life is Strange goes beyond that.  There’s time travel involved.  As we learned as early as Chrysalis, every action has a reaction, and not every reaction is a favorable one.  This is a theme that the game beats like a dead horse because the dialog is delivered in such a way where nothing feels familiar.

Polarized‘s opening sequence was probably the main scene those engrossed in the game couldn’t wait to experience. While it was meant to be disturbing, it ended up being more comical and unrealistic. There was also a point in the episode where Life is Strange tried a little too hard to prove that it was actually a video game by featuring mind-numbing stealth sequence that’s so frustrating and out of place that it’s easy to forget you’re playing a plot-heavy episodic series.

Yes, you have to go through this lecture and scene again.

Yes, you have to go through this lecture and scene again.

Every previous episode of Life is Strange painted a vivid and believable picture of what life was like in Arcadia Bay for just about every character in the game, but for some reason or another, the writers and developers thought it was a good idea to spoon feed us with flashback after flashback of various quotes that were already memorable.  They even threw some backtracking in as an obscure way to advance the story, but to be frank, it really feels like they really didn’t know what to do despite the extra time they took to release the finale.

What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?

It may not be as infuriating as the ending to How I Met Your Mother or Mass Effect, but I couldn’t help but feel cheated by the game’s ending(s).

From the get-go, Life is Strange was different from any other episodic adventure before it.  In every episode you got the opportunity to change your mind on nearly every choice you made.  But with the finale, it saddens me to report that nothing you’ve done up to this point changes anything.  It’s that all too familiar Telltale storytelling pitfall where it doesn’t matter who you decide to save because they all die anyway.  To know that Life is Strange really wasn’t all that different is an inconvenient truth.

As bad and unfortunate as that is, what’s worse is that it makes me even less qualified to say that the game is worth your time and ‘X’ amount of dollars.  If you’ve started and played the game up to this point, you have to finish it.  Just don’t be surprised if you aren’t pleased with the outcome.

Reviews of Previous Episodes of Life is Strange:

 
 
 
 
 
Title: Life is Strange, Episode 5: Polarized
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Genre: Episodic Adventure
Release Date: October 20, 2015
ESRB Rating: M
Developer's Twitter: @dontnod_ent
Editor's Note: The Xbox One version of the Life is Strange season pass was purchased by the reviewer.

Life is Strange has come a long way since its first episode.  What started out as sort of a guilty gaming pleasure has ended up becoming a regular point of serious gaming discussion because of its challenges on naive morality combined with its engaging twists and turns.  Unfortunately, it all comes to an end that’ll leave players polarized as to how good the finale actually was. What Is It? As expected, Polarized begins right where Dark Room left off.  Max […]

maxresdefault

Drugs and photography are bliss in Life is Strange.

Life is Strange has come a long way since its first episode.  What started out as sort of a guilty gaming pleasure has ended up becoming a regular point of serious gaming discussion because of its challenges on naive morality combined with its engaging twists and turns.  Unfortunately, it all comes to an end that’ll leave players polarized as to how good the finale actually was.

What Is It?

As expected, Polarized begins right where Dark Room left off.  Max and Chloe seemed to have uncovered the details surrounding one of the plot’s biggest mysteries only for more tragedy to occur, putting the two in a situation it seems they’ll never get out of.

Of course, you’re Max Caulfield, time master.

That is until you realize Max is anything but a master of time.

Why Should I Care?

More so than any other episode, Polarized makes extensive use of her ability to travel back to specific points in time simply by focusing on a picture.  As we learned since she first used the ability in Chaos Theory, it takes quite a toll on her body, which can lead players to believe that only the worst kind of tragedy is bound to strike by the time the game ends — for better or for worse.

Oh yeah, there's a bad storm brewing in Arcadia Bay. We're finally told why, but not exactly how.

Oh yeah, there’s a bad storm brewing in Arcadia Bay. We’re finally told why, but not exactly how.

The feeling you have playing is comparable to watching all of Paul Walker’s action scenes in Furious 7.  “Is this where he dies?  Do they even kill him?”  Will they or won’t they?

But Life is Strange goes beyond that.  There’s time travel involved.  As we learned as early as Chrysalis, every action has a reaction, and not every reaction is a favorable one.  This is a theme that the game beats like a dead horse because the dialog is delivered in such a way where nothing feels familiar.

Polarized‘s opening sequence was probably the main scene those engrossed in the game couldn’t wait to experience. While it was meant to be disturbing, it ended up being more comical and unrealistic. There was also a point in the episode where Life is Strange tried a little too hard to prove that it was actually a video game by featuring mind-numbing stealth sequence that’s so frustrating and out of place that it’s easy to forget you’re playing a plot-heavy episodic series.

Yes, you have to go through this lecture and scene again.

Yes, you have to go through this lecture and scene again.

Every previous episode of Life is Strange painted a vivid and believable picture of what life was like in Arcadia Bay for just about every character in the game, but for some reason or another, the writers and developers thought it was a good idea to spoon feed us with flashback after flashback of various quotes that were already memorable.  They even threw some backtracking in as an obscure way to advance the story, but to be frank, it really feels like they really didn’t know what to do despite the extra time they took to release the finale.

What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?

It may not be as infuriating as the ending to How I Met Your Mother or Mass Effect, but I couldn’t help but feel cheated by the game’s ending(s).

From the get-go, Life is Strange was different from any other episodic adventure before it.  In every episode you got the opportunity to change your mind on nearly every choice you made.  But with the finale, it saddens me to report that nothing you’ve done up to this point changes anything.  It’s that all too familiar Telltale storytelling pitfall where it doesn’t matter who you decide to save because they all die anyway.  To know that Life is Strange really wasn’t all that different is an inconvenient truth.

As bad and unfortunate as that is, what’s worse is that it makes me even less qualified to say that the game is worth your time and ‘X’ amount of dollars.  If you’ve started and played the game up to this point, you have to finish it.  Just don’t be surprised if you aren’t pleased with the outcome.

Reviews of Previous Episodes of Life is Strange:

Date published: 10/23/2015
2.5 / 5 stars

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