The inaugural episodic adventure from DONTNOD Entertainment has so far been a success with the episodes all being well received on the whole. All stories need a fitting ending though, especially if they want to validate what has gone before it. And now it’s time for Life Is Strange to reach its conclusion in the fifth episode, titled ‘Polarized’. Will we, as a group of gamers, feel polarized about the finalé? Or can it blow us away with something extraordinarily gripping and engaging?
Before ‘The Dark Room’, I doubt anyone could have really expected the tables to turn so dramatically; where a seemingly decent person of power within the school ended up undoing Max’s original life-saving deed. If you don’t want to know who it was then I’d stop reading until you’re up to date. It left us on a massive cliffhanger; having Max looking helpless as her best friend in the world gets shot right in front of her and it was revealed to be none other than… the over friendly Mr Jefferson. The only two questions on my mind were “what the hell is going on?!” and “why?!”
‘Polarized’ will certainly answer those questions. In a similar vein to the last episode, it starts off with a lengthy segment that uses very little interaction but draws the ‘real’ Mr Jefferson into allowing us a glimpse at his sadistic, creepy and obsessive nature. For a character that had done nothing but support Max’s photography skills and come across as a teacher that’s there for his pupils, the developers have managed to make him detestable in record time. This is how a great villain should be; hidden beneath a veil of delightfulness until someone knows too much and then out comes the true colours.
Those powerful rewind powers that Max possesses end up being all but useless for the majority of the episode,apart from using them for small things. For example making a tedious stealth section a bit easier than it could be or gaining the upper hand in a confrontation. Instead, there’s a heavier reliance on her newer ability of focusing on a photograph to return to that point in time through transportation. Let’s just say she jumps all over the place, trying to undo and fix things to get herself out of danger and hopefully save Chloe too. For me it got a bit too much, where it became monotonous and a few parts didn’t add up in relation to how one action caused a strange reaction.
Nevertheless the whole story was taken in a new direction, in what I’d call the most surreal segment I’ve played in a game since my character in Dying Light was hallucinating. It’s almost like Max has mentally broken down, leading to some odd moments with never ending corridors and roaming aimlessly, re-living times gone by as a sort of passenger, unable to do anything at all.
Nothing could’ve prepared me for the ending and I’m still not entirely sure whether it was genius or lame. In some ways it depends on your final major decision; however I was left with a niggling feeling of having made many decisions before this that didn’t really make any difference in the long run. I guess if we’re going to get deep, no matter what you do to avoid it, destiny won’t ever stop chasing you and something’s got to give.
The Life Is Strange finale was a grim old affair, one which bordered on being a psychological horror at times. Somewhere in there is a heart warming relationship between two friends embroiled in a storm of their own making and that tale is brought to a close really well. The only drawback for ‘Polarized’ was the sheer mess it made of the player’s mind, having to follow different realities and plot twists that generally led to nothing good. Oh, and one of the endings.
If you’ve come this far then you’re just torturing yourself should you not finish off the Life Is Strange series. It’s a great story about a teenage girl with a huge weight on her shoulders that shouldn’t be missed, even if the ending(s) polarizes opinions.