Life is Strange: Episode 2 - Out of Time (PC) - ReviewDan Carreras , posted on 19 April 2015 / 2,995 Views
WARNING: The following review contains spoilers for the plot of Life is Strange: Episodes 1 and 2.
Given my concerns over the direction of where Life is Strange seemed to be going at the end of the first episode, I was somewhat hesitant to dive into Episode 2 - Out of Time. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the world from a different point of view (in this case the mind of an 18 year old female college student called Max), and was concerned that, given how apocalyptic the first episode became towards its conclusion, Max would have to start taking on a brand new role in this weird and wonderful world; one where she’s the hero of the story and not just another character with a deep backstory.
I’m glad to say my concerns were unwarranted; Out of Time is just as much of a joy to behold as the first episode.
Whilst the first episode was about Max discovering her powers and using them for good, the second episode is all about taking them to their extremes thanks to Max’s rekindled relationship with her best friend Chloe. This reunited relationship makes you as the player work for your progression through the episode, with Dontnod forcing you to remember the contents of Chloe’s pockets, for example, and then having to recall the contents in questions asked during a conversation about proving your powers.
This part of the episode is easily the worst, with even the slightest mistake meaning you have to repeat the whole conversation from scratch. Even when you think you’ve overcome this obstacle, you’ll then need to watch a section of the game play out and memorise exactly what happens in order to answer subsequent questions. I understand the inclusion of these sequences in the game, but they're certainly an annoyance; Life is Strange should be about the characters and conveying a deep story, not silly rinse and repeat puzzle scenarios.
Annoying game mechanics manifest once more when a simple fetch mission is thrown into the mix half way through (you’re tasked with finding five beer bottles that are scattered across a scrapyard). It’s frustrating - given how lengthy this section of the game is - that this part of the episode doesn’t really add anything to the overall narrative of the game. It is a beautiful scene, one which makes the most out of gorgeous hand-painted graphics that is the hallmark of this episodic series, but it feels largely redundant.
These gameplay quibbles aside, Out of Time manages to tackle some pretty serious topics. Bullying and suicidal thoughts play a large role in this episode, with one of Max’s friends, Kate, being the centre of a bullying effort by the “cool” kids at college. This bullying was hinted at in the first episode, with classmates throwing paper at Kate during class, but Out of Time jumps in at the deep end when it comes to expanding upon this part of the narrative.
Kate has been set up, with a video being posted online of her kissing a number of different guys at a party, bringing shame to her friends and family. It’s only after enquiring with her that you find out that she was drugged and then manipulated into doing these things, prompting a series of emotionally impactful questions and answers throughout the rest of the conversation which go on to play a huge role later in the episode.
It’s rare to feel guilty for a character in a game - it's easy to feel disconnected from the virtual worlds that video game characters inhabit, and this makes it all too easy to make decisions without casting a second thought. In Out of Time, serious discussions give way to weighty ramifications which do have an emotional impact on the player (or on me, at any rate).
Out of Time really made me re-evaluate my time with Life is Strange thus far. I was once again made to appreciate the world that Dontnod has managed to create. If you weren’t a massive fan of the first episode then this second one is unlikely to change your opinion of the series, but if you enjoyed exploring the world and characters in that first episode then Out of Time has a lot to offer; not only do you learn more about Blackwell Academy’s students and staff, but the game explores even more unconventional and surprisingly emotional topics.
This review is based on a digital copy of Life is Strange: Episode 2 - Out of Time for the PC
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