Things get pretty messed up the closing chapter of the Life is Strange saga. At times, Polarized can even feel like a straight-up horror game—which is new!
From the get-go, things get disturbing in episode 5. Max is captured by Mr. Jefferson, she’s drugged, she needs to find a way out. So Max does what she always does: she rewinds time. Over and over again, she redoes choices she’s made in the past, all in the hopes of getting out alive and fixing things. And for a second, it almost seems like she succeeds in saving Chloe and Arcadia Bay. That’s when everything starts to break down.
Max finds that, even though she makes the “right” choices, she can’t escape a time-loop where everything, down to the smallest detail, is completely messed up. Here’s a random poster she can look at during this sequence, for example:
Even the dialogue becomes distorted. At one point, Max goes up to Mr. Jefferson after class, just like she did in the first episode—but these are the only things she can say to him:
And if you happen to check your texts during this segment of the game, you’ll find all sorts of bizarre messages. Yes, this is Max getting a text from a friggin’ dog:
This hilarity is followed-up by a bit where Max becomes trapped in her own dorm room. Nearly every door she tries leads back to the start of the hallway. It’s a segment that seems to take a page from P.T....only there are no fetus babies in a sink here, I’m sad to report.
I don’t even know what to say about THIS part of the episode:
In a later segment, Max has to make her way through a hellscape without getting caught. The dream-like sequence is populated by men she knows in real life, and they all have fucked-up things to say. Here’s Mr. Jefferson, for example:
Yeeeeeah. Like I said: the entire thing is completely off the rails. Everything isn’t executed perfectly—the sneaking section is a real chore to play through—but the nightmare sections of episode 5 are still a potent exploration of Max’s insecurities and fears. It’s all going down as one of the most memorable sections of Life is Strange thus far, at least for me.
And for those of you that are chomping at the bit, hoping to talk in detail about the episode as a whole: we’ll have a more in-depth exploration of the ending later this week, when more people have had a chance to play it. I have a feeling this episode will be...very divisive.