Episode 5: Polarized is the fifth and final installment of the episodic graphic adventure game Life is Strange. The episode has a different tone and I felt almost as if I was playing a highly emotive epilogue more so than a final chapter.
The story line twists and turns again, the characters, their actions and fate builds throughout until it’s time to make the last decision in the game and after three hours of making decisions, unmaking them and remaking them, it felt really good to see the end credits roll and know that for better or for worse, Max’s decisions has mattered and has a definite permanence.
Price: £3.99 for episode 3. £15.99 for all 5 episodes.
About DontNod Entertainment
Dontnod Entertainment is a French video game developer. Remember Me, their first game was published 2 years ago by CapCom. Life is Strange is their second game published by Square Enix. It is an episodic game which has now completed. Their next title is to be an RPG called Vampyr and is expected for 2017.
Dontnod is based in Paris, has 70 employees and “develops video games for HD platforms based on original concepts and innovative technology.”
The Ergohacks Evaluation
Life is Strange is a graphic adventure for adults (and almost adults) who enjoy the genre. Game play largely consists of observing people and the environment, picking up items to look at, talking to characters to advance the plot and snooping around other people’s stuff, with or without their permission.
There is no combat, there is no skip this conversation or cut scene on the first play through and the main objective and enjoyment is figuring out people, including Max, the main protagonist. It requires a certain level of buying into the world, the genre, the game mechanics and its presentation to in turn, slowly unravel a story with some unexpected twists and turns.
It is an emotionally complex story and players who have enjoyed the first 4 installments will enjoy it’s final culmination. It can be played in one setting or many, it’s easy to pause at any point, although there is no manual save, only check-point, but it is best played with immersion in a quiet room without multi-tasking.
Life is Strange have a fairly ergonomic user interface and playing feels efficient, comfortable and requires minimal exertion.
It is a fairly accessible game with standard text size usually against a high contrast background, with no use of colour as the only indicator and no reliance on audio cues. There are no QTEs, timed or repetitive sequences, the controls are easy point-and-click style, it’s playable with a mouse, keyboard or controller and there are no complex mental tasks involved.
Environment & People
Little information is available about Life is Strange’s impact on the environment & people. It is made by a reputable developer, distributed by Square Enix, a long-standing publisher in the industry and both companies have standard practices that are not particularly focused on sustainability or ethics.
The game is set in a typical American town where little thought is given to environmental concerns. The plot has touched on some strange natural events, like multiple beached whales and the plot spins around chaos theory complete with a butterfly flapping its wings in Episode 1, but there is no commentary or player decision making that touched on any issues related to the environment.
The cost of both the Episode and the full-installment is fair and exactly as expected for the quality, nature and length of the game.
Players: Single Player
Full controller support
Language: English (interface, subtitles and full audio) and French (interface and subtitles only)
PEGI 16/ESRB M (Mature)
Platform: PC (Windows/Steam), PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360
OS: Windows Vista (Windows 7 recommended)
Processor: Dual Core 2.0GHz or equivalent (Dual Core 3.0GHz or equivalent recommended)
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: ATI or Nvidia card w/ 512 MB (1024MB recommended) RAM (not recommended for Intel HD Graphics cards)
DirectX: Version 9.0
Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
It requires an internet connection to download and install.
Life is Strange is a beautifully crafted game and Chapter 5 is a masterpiece. It blends the emotive storyline and game mechanics into an experience that had me glued to the screen from beginning to end.
Beyond the supernatural and fantastical, it’s a heart wrenching story of a teenage girl struggling to find herself, formulate her own identity and values, discover her place in the world and move into adulthood leaving childhood innocence behind.
Life is Strange is well-crafted and although it started out a little awkward in an obviously artificial world, Episode 5 finishes this story about friendship, loss, compassion, passion, responsibility and how one teenage girl takes on the world.
Sceptics may find it a little dramatic, but I bought into it without reservation. Highly recommended.
Product: Life is Strange: Episode 4 | Developer: Dontnod Entertainment | Publisher: Square Enix | Platform: PC (Windows/Steam), PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 | Genre: Graphic Adventure | Players: Single player | Version: Europe | Release Date: 19 October 2015 |Content Rating: PEGI 16/ ESRB M 17+
The review is based on the PC (Steam) version kindly provided by Square Enix.