Life Is Strange: Episode 5 – Polarized – Review

Title   Life Is Strange: Episode 5 – Polarized
Developer  Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher  Square Enix
Platform  PC (reviewed), PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre  Graphic adventure
Release Date  October 20th, 2015
Official Site

lifeisstrangeep5rev1This review contains heavy spoilers for episodes one, two, three and four so stop right now if you haven’t finished them yet. You can read my reviews of the previous episodes here, here, here and here.

The Dark Room stayed pretty true to its name; we established that Rachel Amber is definitely dead and that she was only one of a number of girls who had been drugged, kidnapped and photographed in Nathan’s murderbunker, only, as it turns out, Nathan wasn’t working alone. It seems the loveable Mr Jefferson, the teacher apparently every college girl wants to bang, has been in on it the whole time, and we ended episode 4 with him drugging Max and shooting Chloe after they made the terrific decision to go to the junk yard on their own in the dark. This is after receiving a text message from the man who’s been kidnapping and murdering young women telling them that he’s going to be there.

Episode 5 is dark. Really fucking dark, especially the first thirty minutes. I’m not going to spoil anything but, given the final scene from the previous episode, you can probably imagine where it’s likely to go. That said, it’s basically impossible to discuss this game without saying things that a smart person could make reasonable deductions from so while I will endeavour to make this as spoiler-free as possible if you really don’t want any clue as to what happens, skip to the score now.


Suffice it to say, Max is not in a happy place; Chloe is dead, her teacher is a psycho and seemingly every time she screws with time it just makes things worse, even if it’s not immediately apparent, and no matter what she does the apocalyptic storm from her visions always shows up. Speaking of which, there’s an odd moment about halfway through the game where it seems like they’ve broken with their own rules about time travel; I think I understand the logic behind it but it doesn’t seem to fit with other things that have happened previously. Maybe I just missed something that would have made it clear.

lifeisstrangeep5rev3Things move pretty quickly and I was surprised at how well they managed to bring all the story threads together – I mean it’s nothing spectacular but it’s a lot better than I’d expected. That said there are some detours along the way that I really wish they hadn’t taken, including the “dream sequence”, for want of a better word, which brings back the tedious stealth bits from episode 3 only dialed up to 11 with the bottle collection nonsense from episode 2 thrown in for good measure. The worst part is it does the classic thing of calling out how crap the things are and then making you do them anyway.

The big question, of course, is how does it end? Well if you’ve read many other reviews you’ve probably concluded “badly”, thing is I don’t really agree. Yes, there are issues with it, like the fact that they fall prey to the “press button to pick ending” problem and it really feels like they’ve flagged one ending as the “right” one, but fundamentally I thought my ending was fine. Many of your choices throughout the series may not have a huge impact on how the game ends but I feel that one of the big strengths of Life Is Strange is that they made your choices pay off early and often. The decisions you make often don’t change the destination but they do change the journey and in much bigger ways than Telltale have typically done. It’s not just as simple as having to choose between the Smart Guy and the Fighty Guy and then later they’ll solve an identical problem with a Smart Solution or a Fighty Solution, there are whole bits of the game you won’t see if you take certain paths. Could it have been better? Probably but I don’t think that really matters; my Max had her ending and it was good enough for me. It leaves some things unanswered but that’s fine, you don’t always have to answer everything – leave some things for people to wonder about.


As a series, Life Is Strange has been excellent overall; they’ve made missteps, some of the early writing was a bit iffy and the voice acting for some of the ancillary characters varied wildly in quality, but they’ve generally made an effort to address them in later episodes. For a first foray into the genre the developers have done an incredible job and certainly haven’t shied away from dealing with difficult subjects. It’s hard to judge these things but I feel like Life Is Strange has been popular enough to justify a second series and I really hope they make one, especially because it puts even more pressure on Telltale to up their game – their writing may be excellent but their games really aren’t fun to play.

  • Wonderfully dark opening
  • Ties up most of the story threads nicely
  • A good end to an excellent series
  • A little weak in the middle
  • Another stealth sequence
  • Ending is likely to be divisive

Polarized provides a satisfying end to a great journey. It feels a little weak in the middle as they try to tie everything together, but overall it's still a good episode. There are unquestionably problems with the ending but I don't feel they substantially detract from the rest of the story unless you over-analyse them.

If you haven't already jumped on the Life Is Strange bandwagon, now is a great time to do so – or give it a month and you can probably pick the whole thing up in the Steam Christmas sale for a few quid and you definitely should.

Our review policy

Last five articles by Adam B


There are no comments, yet.

Why don’t you be the first? Come on, you know you want to!

Leave a Comment