"Polarized" is the fifth and final episode of Life is Strange. The episode was released on October 20, 2015, almost 3 months after Episode 4: Dark Room. It is available on PC, Mac, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
Six teaser trailers and one final launch trailer were released before the episode went live to the public.
Max Caulfield learns that time is impossible to control and that her power carries many consequences as she moves inexorably towards the most agonizing decision of her life. Arcadia Bay, meanwhile, is preparing to weather a huge storm as Life is Strange comes to a gripping and gut-wrenching conclusion.
Max is held captive inside the bunker with Mark Jefferson, but by using her powers, she manages to escape into a photograph. Emerging back at the beginning in Jefferson's class, it is made possible for her to inform David Madsen of her kidnapper's identity - Jefferson is caught, Chloe Price is rescued, and Max is awarded the opportunity to go to San Francisco as the winner of the Everyday Heroes Photo Contest and see her photograph displayed in an art gallery. She calls Chloe from the event, realizing that in spite of all her efforts, the storm still exists and is heading towards Arcadia Bay. Max uses her powers to go back in time to the taking of her photo entry, which eventually leads her to sojourn alternative realities as they devolve into a dreamscape nightmare. By the story's end, Max arrives at the lighthouse with Chloe. They confront the fact that Max brought the approaching super storm into existence by availing herself of the advantage of time travel abilities and saving Chloe in the bathroom from the start. Max must make a final choice: sacrifice Chloe's life in order to save Arcadia Bay or sacrifice Arcadia Bay to prevent Chloe's demise.
- Dark Room
- Dark Room - 1st Focus
- Dark Room - After the Focus
- Dark Room - 2nd Focus
- Art Class - Focus
- Plane - Between Realities
- Art Gallery
- Max's Room - Focus
- Dark Room - Confrontation
- Jefferson's Car
- Parking Lot - Focus
- Nathan Prescott (Determinant) - Mark Jefferson mentions that he murdered Nathan and plans to pin his murders on him. However this is changed after Max warns Chloe in the past. He is arrested at the end for the murder of Chloe if Max chooses to sacrifice her in order to save Arcadia Bay. Alternatively, if she chooses to sacrifice the town instead, his fate is not altered, and he is still dead.
- Victoria Chase (Determinant) - If Max warns Victoria about Nathan in the previous episode, she will go to Mr. Jefferson who will capture her. Later, after Max returns to the dark room, Mr. Jefferson will reveal that he killed Victoria because he believes that she's where she should be. She is seen alive during Chloe's funeral if Max chooses to save Arcadia Bay's population.
- David Madsen (Pre-Rewind) - When David enters the Dark Room and is confronted with Jefferson, there are several instances in which he is seriously hurt and even shot.
- Mark Jefferson (Determinant) - In the original timeline if Max tells David that Mark murdered Chloe, David will execute him. However this is changed after Max warns Chloe in the past.
- Trucker (Determinant) - If Max doesn't help the trucker out from under his truck he will remain crushed underneath it.
- Evan Harris (Determinant) - If Max waits too long, Evan will be too distracted by the storm and a metal visor will take him out.
- Alyssa Anderson (Determinant) - If Max did not save Alyssa in more than 3 episodes and Max talks to her, she will back away from Max and will fall into a hole in the floor of her apartment.
- R.J. MacReady (Determinant) - Max will accidentally electrocute the fisherman to death in order to get past the fire, and if Max leaves without rewinding and warning him, he will stay that way.
- Officer Anderson Berry - Officer Berry can be seen crushed under a police car outside the diner.
- Homeless Woman (Determinant) - If Max chooses not to warn the homeless woman about the storm in Episode 3, she will be crushed by the dumpster.
- Chloe Price (Determinant) - If Max chooses to go back to the day she stopped Nathan from shooting Chloe and allow him to do so, Max will prevent the storm from happening and consequently will save Arcadia Bay's population.
- Warren Graham, Joyce Price, Frank Bowers, Pompidou and an unnamed man (Pre-Rewind) - They die in a gas explosion in the diner. Max needs to prevent that by rewinding, so that she can get Warren's photo.
- Many of Arcadia Bay's people (Presumed, Determinant) - If Max chooses not to sacrifice Chloe, then the storm destroys Arcadia Bay and we can only see Max and Chloe alive after the storm.
- Main article: Polarized/Walkthrough
Unresolved Issues and Open Questions Edit
There are many ideas developed throughout the season that weren't resolved in the final episode and a lot of questions remaining unanswered. This can partly be explained with the ambiguous vision of the game.[ref needed]
- Where did Max's powers come from, and for what exact purpose were they given to her?
- Is there even a reason at all? And if there is, whose reason is it?
- What causes Max to get a nosebleed after overusing her powers?
- If Max created the storm by messing with time, changing the course of everything and jumping into alternative realities, why did she get the powers in the first place?
- More importantly, *how* did her powers create the storm? Even going by butterfly effect logic, nothing she did should have created changes as significant as a solar eclipse.
- It can also be suggested that the storm and other weird assurances were not created directly by the butterfly effect but rather by some 4th dimensional tearing in the space/time continuum.
- Since time travel is not meant to undo deaths, sacrificing Chloe would mean preventing the deaths of many lives. Would that still dramatically affect the timeline?
- If Chloe's fate was to be destined to die in the bathroom in the first place, then why was Max given time powers to intervene and prevent her death?
- Is this even actually the purpose for which Max's powers are intended?
- How did Chloe's death trigger Max's powers to activate?
- Even though Chloe had died many times throughout the story other than being shot by Nathan, the storm is still happening. Is it really because she has to be shot by Nathan in order to erase the storm from existance?
- Does Max still have her time controlling ability after her final decision, especially in the Sacrifice Chloe ending?
- What does the butterfly's appearance in the Sacrifice Chloe ending signify? Does it encourage Max to try again, if it was the butterfly that gave here the rewinding powers?
- What about the mystery surrounding Pan Estates and the allusions to Native Americans and their spiritual culture presented throughout?
- What about Samuel and his mysterious behaviour, talking about spirit animals and a non-scientific explanation for the strange phenomena at Arcadia Bay?
- What is the purpose of the mystical, transparent doe that appears to Max throughout the episodes?
- Is it a spirit animal and is it connected to Max or Rachel?
- Who is the owner of the Thread:9247 Twilight Zone number plate, and are they of any significance to the plot?
- Why did Max have the vision of the storm before she learned of her powers?
- Is the storm even actually connected to her powers? If so, how?
- Was the storm meant to happen for a reason?
- How long has Max actually had her powers prior to learning about them? Only since her vision, or her whole life?
- What's the deal with the nightmare? Is that all it is, or is it tied to the havoc her powers may have wrought in reality? Is it possibly not a nightmare, but rather a brief manifestation of time in a dire state as a result of the fluctuations in the fabric of time caused by Max's alterations?
- Was the nightmare trying to deceive Max or was it trying to tell her something important?
- Do the other realities Max creates continue to run parallel to her current one after she leaves them, or are they destroyed? If not, do the other Maxes keep their powers, or are they only available to the primary Max in whichever reality she's currently in? Additionally, do the small adjustments Max makes create entirely new realities just to accommodate the change? Or is the current reality simply rewound for Max to resume from the point she desires?
- Can the toll Max's powers take on her actually be lethal? Or only wear her down to the point where she can't use them for a bit, as seen on the rooftop with Kate?
- Who really lived or died in the "Sacrifice Arcadia Bay" ending?
- What about the Prescott family? Did they survive the storm?
- If the main point of the story was to prevent Arcadia Bay's destruction, then why does Max have to choose between saving the town or sacrificing it?
- What is the purpose of the blue butterfly?
- Did it give Max her powers?
- Does it have connections to Chloe or Rachel?
Featured Music Edit
- Main article: Soundtrack (Life is Strange)
- "The Sense of Me" by Mud Flow (Played when Max is driving to the Two Whales diner)
- "To All of You" by Syd Matters (reversed version: "uoY fo llA oT") (Played during Max's nightmare)
- "Spanish Sahara" by Foals (Played in the Sacrifice Chloe ending)
- "Obstacles" by Syd Matters (Played if Max sacrificed Arcadia Bay)
- Polarized has the highest rated Metascore of all episodes on Metacritic with a Metascore of 83/100 and a User Score of 8.4.
- IGN gave it 6.5 calling the darker plot twist unnecessary.
There are twelve achievements the player can earn on Steam, PlayStation or Xbox. The total number of achievements for all episodes that are collectible is 60.. For PlayStation consoles, a platinum trophy is also available.
Take optional photo #1 in Episode 5: Polarized
|Night Vision |
Take optional photo #2 in Episode 5: Polarized
Take optional photo #3 in Episode 5: Polarized
|Camera Obscura |
Take optional photo #4 in Episode 5: Polarized
Take optional photo #5 in Episode 5: Polarized
Take optional photo #6 in Episode 5: Polarized
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|On Display |
Take optional photo #8 in Episode 5: Polarized
|Light Meter |
Take optional photo #9 in Episode 5: Polarized
Take optional photo #10 in Episode 5: Polarized
|Selfie Awareness |
Take all optional photos in Episode 5: Polarized
Finish Episode 5: Polarized
|What if? |
Unlock all other trophies from Life Is Strange™
- The title "Polarized" is a clever reference to the final choice. If something is polarized, it means there are two massively conflicting points. In this case, it's the desire to save Chloe or to save the town. The two choices conflict the huge emotional bond the player (likely) formed with Chloe and the fact her survival will kill hundreds more.
- The title also can refer to a particular type of photography filter which refines light generally for the purpose of increasing contrast or reducing distractions like glare. This could be a metaphor for Max's maturing views on her power and her situation.
- The episode has been released on 20th October 2015, exactly 2 years after the date of the winner of the Everyday Heroes Photo Contest departs for San Francisco.
- The episode was released the day before "Back to the Future Day" (October 21, 2015), the date Marty McFly travels to in Back to the Future Part II.
- In the reversed Blackwell Academy sequence of Max's nightmare, you can hear and see things normally if Max uses her rewind in this scene.
- In the diner sequence of Max's nightmare, Max has to enter a code to exit the diner bathroom. If you enter the incorrect code 50 times, the door will open and Max will say, "I'm going to make the designers pay for all these bullshit code puzzles!"
- Voice actress Dani Knights provided the automated voice for Max's voicemail, heard when listening to Nathan's message (uncredited for it).
- DONTNOD Entertainment originally intended to have an alternative "Sacrifice Chloe" ending in which she would have fallen into a coma instead of being killed, the often speculated "Hospital Ending".
- After the credits roll, DONTNOD give their thanks to the players and fans of Life is Strange: "Fans, thanks for your amazing support, art, gifts, passion and crazy theories! It has been such a great honor to have you dwelling in Arcadia Bay with us."
- Artistic Director Michel Koch confirmed on Twitter that the team originally thought about a lot more variations in the Sacrifice Arcadia Bay ending but the production reality and budget didn't make it possible. He also confirmed that this ending is intended to mark a new beginning for Chloe and Max and it's up to the players' imagination what happens next, as the most important message was shown. The sacrifice Max makes is meant to convey a message of enormous love; and the most important aspects in this ending for that purpose were that they are leaving together and that they promise each other to always be together, as well as their smiling in the pickup truck which is meant to be the key moment to induce what happens next.
- Recording the lines for "Polarized" was very hard and very traumatic for Hannah Telle (voice actor for Max Caulfield). She also says that the recording session with Derek Phillips for the Dark Room lines (when Max is tied up on the floor) was "so creepy".
- There is a sequence of images during the 'Sacrifice Arcadia Bay' ending that appear meaningful. The first image shows three deer (one of which is initially standing some distance from the adult and fawn but skips over to join them to make three); after the deer, we see three birds flying up the same road, as if heading out of town; the final part of the sequence begins as a close-up on Chloe's three-bullet necklace as she drives out of town with Max (the camera slowly pans out from the necklace). The number 3 appears significant. Perhaps this is reminding us how this was a story about Max, Chloe, and Rachel. Three girls whose lives were entwined.