Warning: As is with episodic reviews, I’ll warn you now that I’ll be diving into a few spoilers from the first episode of Life is Strange. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, finish it off before reading this review. I don’t want to spoil anything for you!
Dontnod’s episodic series suffered a slight tangle when it was delayed a few weeks ago, altering the six week release schedule they’d previously promised. Fortunately though, the second episode of Life is Strange delivers, continuing on with the mystery surrounding Arcadia Bay, Max’s friends and ending on a big moment that’ll shape the destiny of your own playthrough depending on your perceptions and actions.
Episode Two, titled Out Of Time, focuses on character building and utilising Max’s rewind ability to facilitate the oncoming pressures Life is Strange will be hurling at you. It certainly doesn’t falter in its attempt to keep the story progressing, but it doesn’t really push on with what we were left with at the end of the first episode. I wanted to find out more about the storm approaching Arcadia Bay, but information only came in the way of a few visions and that was it. This didn’t necessarily hurt the episode, instead having the focus shift towards further developing the characters, facilitating their decisions and how they perceive Max’s actions.
One of the best parts about Episode Two is the way it clearly takes your choices into account when determining the way others interact with you. Kate’s interactions throughout the episode are the most poignant considering the way she was treated in Chrysalis and how you dealt with it. After being harassed by Chloe’s father-in-law, tormented by the others and depending on the way you dealt with the situations presented, she’ll take you on about your choices and how it’s affected her wellbeing. If anything, Kate is the main focus in Out of Time, and your choices surrounding her will play an important role later on.
As well as having a focus on Kate and her increasingly worrying times at Blackwell Academy, you’ll meet a couple of new faces and engage in interactions that will determine consequences further down the line. I liked the new characters introduced, and whilst they played a minor part in the proceedings, they enabled the story to become more fleshed out and create a believable, living world. Like the first episode, you’re given a bit of time to roam Arcadia Bay and talk to a handful of other characters that share various stories about the city, the people, and their own problems they’re facing if you want. I noticed that I spent a lot more time this time around investigating everything I could before progressing on with the story, which made the episode feel more open and enjoyable.
“Unlike Telltale’s The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us, knowledge of the setting and particular notions of a character can be the deciding factor between life and death.”
Above all else, Episode Two of Life is Strange really pushes a single point – investigate everything you can. Unlike Telltale’s The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us, knowledge of the setting and particular notions of a character can be the deciding factor between life and death. Rushing through the episode without investigating objects and speaking with characters will not only be detrimental to your enjoyment of the episode and the world it has crafted, but it’s also a costly mistake that can prove catastrophic. I was impressed with how Dontnod pushed me in terms of remembering such finite details to use later on in the episode, and that’s one of the biggest reasons as to why Life is Strange is very different from other titles like it.
As Life is Strange is an episodic series developed on the same engine, nothing in the way of graphics or presentation has changed – everything is still the same and runs smoothly without any problems to note. As well as that, the excellent sound design and soundtrack return in Episode Two with tracks from Alt-J and Syd Matters being the standouts. I really like the way Life is Strange handles its music choices, as it compliments the tone of the game with aplomb while accentuating Max’s character and how she perceives the world around her.
Episode Two of Life is Strange isn’t as strong as Episode One because of the change in focus, but that’s not to say it’s a bad episode by any means. I was disappointed with the way it falters in shedding more light on the storm situation — which I still assume is the overarching plot that will connect the five episodes — but it does make up for that by giving you time to engage in Arcadia Bay and its inhabitants. The writing is quite good, albeit quite cheesy now and again, and the way the choices from the first episode carry over with such a big effect bodes well for the future. I’m excited to see what happens in the third episode of Life is Strange and how it will start branching out after the excellent final act in Out of Time. Dontnod’s episodic tale continues to impress, and Episode Two is a solid entry in the series.
Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PS3, PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
A review code of the game was provided by the publisher.