Do you want drama? Mystery? Sci-fi? This episode's got it all
Even as a fan of story-driven episodic titles, I went into Life is Strange with cautious optimism. I didn’t have prior experience with Dontnod Entertainment, but muddled reviews from Remember Me made me wary. Happily, I came out of episode 1 much like Richard, feeling pleasantly surprised with the depth and potential that came with Chrysalis.
While Chrysalis introduced Max and her brigade of peers and teachers, and let us get used to her newfound powers to reverse time, Out of Time takes advantage of having the stage already set for it by kicking everything up a notch. The decisions you make are weightier, the relationships grow deeper, and dramas much more serious than water on cashmere unfold.
In this moment, Max is my spirit animal
There’s still the typical high school bullying and childish games of he said/she said, as one might expect, but as we spend more time outside Blackwell Academy we begin to learn more about Arcadia Bay and its residents. Just like real life, everyone’s got a story, and everyone’s got something to say. In all truthfulness that’s one of my favourite parts of Life is Strange; the humanity and its ability to capture a look at everyday life that nearly anyone who’s gone through those angsty teenage years can relate to in some way.
Of course there’s still the tiny added wrinkle of time travel, but that is explored much further and in more satisfying ways here than in episode 1. Previously it seemed that Max took her new power in extreme stride, acting fairly nonchalant. She was surprised, but ultimately got used to it incredibly quickly. As such it’s relieving to see episode 2 open with shots of the dorm room littered with books and notes on quantum physics, wormholes, and assorted time travel theories. It’s obvious she wants to learn more about the ins and outs of her ability, as well as how she came to control it.
On top of that she shares the secret of her power with Chloe as the two rekindle their broken friendship. Chloe insists they have some fun testing out Max’s power, and in doing so Max starts getting frequent nosebleeds and constant lightheadedness. It’s obvious that resetting time is taking its toll on her, and she needs to practice caution going forward.
This does not look good
I was expecting something like this to happen eventually, but for it to take such a heavy toll so early on begs the question of what will happen in episode 3 as her powers potentially wane in effectiveness. The time travel mechanic is the best thing about Life is Strange, and it certainly will continue to play a pivotal role, but I’m intrigued to see how Max copes with the damage its doing to her.
Just like in episode 1, the music is just as much a main character as Maxine. It sets the mood and creates the perfect ambiance for the scene of the moment. However, while Life is Strange boasts more than a dozen licensed songs on its soundtrack, Dontnod made the peculiar decision to recycle the same two or three we already heard in Chrysalis. They still work, but hearing the same song every time Max puts on her headphones gives the feeling of laziness when there are plenty of others to choose from. Sure, everyone’s got their favourite jams, especially angsty teens with inexplicable powers, but it seems like a waste to reuse the same songs.
As stated before, if episode 1 was setting the stage, episode 2 was the proper first act of this play. You know most of the cast, and you’ve pretty much decided what stance you’re going to take. You know your friends, and you know your enemies, and you know who you can trust. Don’t you?
With all the graffiti in this game I can’t help but feel like some of it is foreboding
Possibly the best part about Out of Time is the sudden jump from sci-fi drama to thriller mystery. By the end of the episode it feels like the first season of Broadchurch. You’ll be second-guessing your first impressions of nearly everyone and you just can’t figure out most peoples’ agendas. Is the security guard a huge creep, or is he actually looking out for everyone’s best interest? Is your teacher the bees knees, or is he just a bully? Is your best friend really still your best friend? Can things go back to the way they were so easily?
Questions pile upon questions, and episode 2 ends as episode 1 did, with a look at various members of the community on their own time, and a slightly longer hint at the bigger picture that likely won’t make sense until the finale. Tension is mounting, and the pacing is near-perfect. I can’t wait for episode 3.
LIFE IS STRANGE EPISODE 2: OUT OF TIME VERDICT
While the standard high school drama bullshit is still incredibly prevalent, Life is Strange is shaping up to be so much more than that. Episode 1 showed great promise, and episode 2 delivers on the potential. It brings suspense and intrigue to the forefront, while still tackling the science fiction and drama effectively. Emotions run high in multiple points, always keeping you eager to see what’s going to happen next.
TOP GAME MOMENT
The scene with Kate Marsh. No spoilers here, as you’ll know it when you see it. Very intense, and could well shape future episodes greatly.
Engaging story that keeps you more than interested.
Consequences from your actions begin to take shape in meaningful ways.