Its all over. At the beginning of the year I caught wind of a new titled named Life is Strange and thought , \’I\’ll give it a shot.\’ and while it may not be perfect , it\’s story and characters have stuck with me over the past ten months. I found my ending satisfying and immediately went back to see the alternate one and, well, mine was clearly how the DONTNOD team envisioned wrapping it up when the story was conceived. This review, like my others for this game, will be spoiler free. (which is not easy)
For those of you who have yet to play this game (seriously, go buy it) you play as a teen girl named Max Caulfield who’s love of photography brought her back to her stomping grounds of Arcadia Bay for college. There she takes classes with one of the world’s most renowned photographers turned professor and rekindles a relationship with an old, but very close childhood friend Chloe Price. One day out of nowhere, and to her horror, Max has a vision that an impending storm is drawing near that threatens to wipe out all of Arcadia Bay, but she also finds out she can bend time and travel at her will. She also comes to find for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The main gameplay revolves around time travel but the core story throughout Life is Strange centers around friendship and how far you\’re willing to go for the ones you love. It sounds cliché and played out but DONTNOD manage nail it and keep it feeling fresh. Throughout Max’s journey and in Polarized we witness a timid teen girl go through hell and emerge as a hero in the end, the definition of which is up to you.
During the finale you\’ll see first hand how the decisions you\’ve made alter the overall story ark and affect those around you for better or worse. Any loose ends are tied up and questions are answered. If you were disappointed by the lack of time altering based gameplay in the previous episode you\’ll be happy to know there is a lot more of it this time around along with an admittedly odd stealth section. The pace is chaotic and you\’ll be jumping from one reality to the next in the blink of an eye. The tone is dark and shit looks bleak with Max\’s emotions violently swirling not unlike the storm that is looming over Arcadia Bay. As you bounce from reality to reality you\’ll witness the consequences of your actions as they unravel and discover how your constant meddling with time is ripping holes in the fabric of time itself. My favorite section of Polarized was a multi-part section titled Nightmare which was equally parts chilling and creepy. In this section DONTNOD cleverly recapped the main plot points and choices that were made up until this point. We also dive into Max’s psyche and unearth her deepest fears and play through them. This serves up some truly dark moments and outlandish dialogue spoken by other characters. It\’s pretty harsh. Thankfully, the odd stealth mission in Nightmare is made significantly easier with Max\’s rewind ability. There is one section of this episode that did make me smile. Well, I smirked anyway. That was DONTNOD\’s clever…nod to the bottle collecting chore from an earlier episode. The main choice you\’re presented with at the end is a heavy one required some thought for me.
Overall I\’d have to say this is one of the strongest episodes and definitely the darkest, so be prepared for that. It\’s also pretty gut-wrenching at the end which is a testament to how attached I became to the characters. Even a few days later I still think about my choice. I know Arcadia Bay\’s story is over but I can\’t stop yearning to spend more time with the town and it\’s wonderful characters. Especially Max and Chloe. Unfortunately time has run its course. You can check out a free demo but I strongly feel this is a series you need to try. I enjoyed it more than the Telltale games. You can buy the entire season for $19.99 on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Steam or buy each episode individually for $4.99. Life is Strange is beautiful, tragic, and a masterpiece worthy of experiencing.