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Review – Life is Strange Episode 5 Polarized. Final wrap-up

Posted on October 23, 2015 by Michael Boccher

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ca78d0151e88522851eb7a5354e9bc70_LGame – Life is Strange Episode 5

Release Date – October 20th, 2015

Platforms – All Xbox, PS and PC

Developer – DontNod

Publisher – Square Enix


I’m not too sure where to begin with this review to be quite honest. The last nine months have been absolutely gut wrenching since Life is Strange made its debut in January. As we’ve noted, DontNod does an incredible job of taking a stereotypical, shy 18 year old girl struggling to make decisions with her life and make her completely relatable to everyone, even me a 36 year old man. The opening crawler message says it all for those both new to Life is Strange as well as those continuing with the emotional toll on their bodies. “Choose Wisely” we’re told as our actions directly impact those around us. Yeah. Thanks.

Episode 5 Polarized  begins directly after the events of Episode 4’s ending. I’m not going to get into specifics because it will ruin the experience for those newcomers and spoil the journey for those who already have begun. But, notice I used the word experience and not game. That’s what Life is Strange is; an experience more than a game. Being 36 years old, I’ve been playing games since Atari 2600 when I was 5 years old in 1984. Life is Strange is the only game I’ve ever played in my entire life that has impacted me in such an emotional way that it forced me to actually stop playing the game. During the episode, we find out the origin of the storm heading toward Arcadia Bay and have to make a truly lose-lose decision to complete the experience of Life is Strange. And I’m talking real tears here bad. I don’t care, I’ll admit. I’m a 36 year old guy who arrests criminals for a living and I cried at the end of Life is Strange. When the screen popped up with that flashing red light and choices I had to make, I didn’t know what to do at first. I put my controller down, took my headset off and walked out of the room.

I was so emotionally invested in the experience at this point that I wanted to finish it but I didn’t want to walk back into the room and choose X or B. Ten minutes later I walked back in and I sat down another five before making my decision: I chose B. The beauty of Life is Strange is that it teaches you every decision you make in life is never as simple as just “that decision”. Everything has an impact on everything no matter how small the decision. At first glance, option X may sound better than option B in a vacuum, but X may result in this, this and that happening which may be worse than option B’s that, that and this results. It’s a truly emotional experience during the 12 hours or so of gameplay you’ll progress through in Life is Strange, but that is because of the magnificent writing by the likes of Christian Divine and the line delivery of the voice actors like Hannah Telle (Max) and Ashly Burch (Chloe). And of course, none of this could have happened without the likes of DontNod and Square Enix.

What makes Life is Strange such an epic experience for everyone is how everyone can relate to the same experiences the characters have had. Those who are slightly older than Max like myself in their 30’s have lived through those times in our lives already. Therefore, we question ourselves “Did I make the right decision back then?”, “What would’ve happened if I did this instead?”. Those that are younger around Max’s age haven’t lived long enough to experience these things for the most part, but it shows them the impact their decisions will have when they do reach that point in their lives and allows them to makes those decisions with much more care and responsibility.

And then it ends……. After 12 hours of game play, nine months of development and a real chalky bottle of Pepto, the experience of Life is Strange has come to an end. Never before have I suffered from the placebo effect from a game and portrayed the same physical effects from thinking about a game as I did when I actually played it, but that’s what Life is Strange did. DontNod and Square Enix delivered perfectly a manner in which to show people how not to think about yourself, put others first and respect the fact that your decisions impact others in a very powerful way all the while doing it without making us feel pretentious, but vulnerable. Life is Strange is an experience that will stick with you after it’s done. And it will. It will creep up in the back of your mind the next time you reach a critical milestone in your life just like that catchy song on the radio. But don’t worry, that’s a good thing.

DontNod has succeeded in making Life is Strange the first real experience (it’s not just a game) that allows all people to live in a way which truly makes them better human beings.

Thank you DontNod. Thank you.

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