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Video Game Review: Life is Strange, Episode 5

October 28, 2015 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
Life is Strange
Polarized picks up right where the previous episode left off.

Please note that since each episode of Life is Strange features the same graphics engine and control setup, those elements will not be repeated in our reviews for the final four episodes. To read our thoughts on that, refer to our review of Chrysalis.

Life Is Strange was, well, a strange series. While the game was equal parts high school girl simulator and time-travel mystery, developers Dontnod took the TellTale Games formula and added a variety of mechanics to build something wholly original — and in many ways, better.

Episode 5: Polarized immediately starts from the previous episode’s cliffhanger, which took the series into much darker territory than the earlier episodes, and Polarized dips into the survival-horror genre in the same way that previous installments lifted elements from other genres.

This isn’t as jarring as it sounds. It still feels very much in-universe, and the stakes are much higher with this being the finale. As this is a story focused on time travel, there’s a sequence that’s reminiscent of Groundhog Day or Hideo Kojima’s P.T.

This requires attention to detail to solve on a level that hasn’t been seen in the series, and that might be frustrating for some fans that are focusing more on the narrative than the puzzles.

That’s only part of the episode, which matches the length of previous ones. Much of the game still follows the same explore-discuss-puzzle sequence as seen before. Some technical issues appeared (we couldn’t tell if they were by design) in which the key item couldn’t be used to solve a puzzle until after the sequence was failed at least once.

We’re staying vague on story details since this is the finale, but the tone, pacing and writing all fit in with the rest of the series, leading to a fitting conclusion. Without giving anything away, if you’ve made it this far, you’ll probably enjoy how it ends.

Overall, the story offers multiple endings based on choice, and depending on how things go, there are varying levels of satisfaction. That being said, a few loose ends are left unanswered or vaguely addressed, which some fans will find frustrating.

Additionally, those looking for definitive hints of a sequel may be disappointed; this feels like a very self-contained story, though given the series’ popularity, we’re sure there’s a way to pull a sequel out of it (maybe swap out the waifey teenage hipster girl for a waifey teenage hipster boy?) should Dontnod want to do it.

OVERALL (4.25/5)

Filled with heart-tugging narrative moments, surprising puzzles and a handful of technical issues, Polarized is a fitting conclusion to the Life is Strange story.

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Video Game Review: NHL ‘16

September 20, 2015 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
Many considered last year’s PS4/Xbox One release of NHL ‘15 to be a bit of an empty shell. While PS3/Xbox 360 players were treated to the usual complement of features, the next-gen platforms were given essentially a single-player tech demo.
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Video Game Review: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

September 9, 2015 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
Kojima Productions has managed to top other open-world games in terms of controls. Movement is much smoother than Assassin’s Creed and combat is much more fluid than Grand Theft Auto. This may be partially due to the areas’ sparse population (it’s really just guards, vehicles and wildlife), but regardless, the controls are among the smoothest of this generation and allow you to easily adapt Snake’s infiltration style to whatever you prefer.
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Video Game Review: Life is Strange, Episode 4

July 30, 2015 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
Dontnod has had to incorporate decisions from the past three episodes and create dialogue for all possible outcomes. Given that, there are some notably awkward transitions in which it seems like the dialogue tree permutations didn’t exactly sync up. This is noticeable in two particular sequences, one at a trailer park and one at a party. You’ll feel yourself gaining momentum with the character and then they’ll say something completely opposite.
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Video Game Review: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

July 24, 2015 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
If you’re not clued into ’90s puzzle/adventure PC games, Ethan Carter is broken up into 10 individual sections that help to unravel the, um, titular vanishing. These vary in difficulty, but you’ll definitely need to tap into your problem-solving skills to get through them.
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