‘Life is Strange Episode 2- Out of Time’ Review

Platforms PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Developer Dontnod Entertainment   Publisher Square Enix

Genre Point and Click Adventure   Platform Played On PC

Dontnod Entertainment’s episodic adventure game Life is Strange started off solid with an opening episode that proved to be unique and engaging. Despite some campy dialogue, the story was engaging, the characters relatable, and the relatively simple time travel mechanics unique. The end of Chrysalis left players asking questions and wanting more.

Enter Episode 2: Out of Time, which opens as Max Caulfield wakes up the day after discovering her power. Like the first episode, the beauty is in the details, which we see plenty of as the player walks her through her morning routine.

If the first episode’s focus was on Max, then this episode’s focus is on worldbuilding. Over the course of Out of Time, the player is given multiple opportunities to learn more about Chloe, the Prescotts who apparently own everything, and Arcadia Bay itself. This focus on characters and forces outside of our awkward, time traveling heroine makes the world of Life as Strange feel as real as the (often unpleasant) issues the game seeks to tackle. Consider it a sort of trigger warning when I tell you that this game looks at heavy real life issues spanning from drug use to sexual assault to depression and bullying.

The first observation that jumped out for me in this episode is that my choices from Chrysalis really did matter. I mentioned in my review of that episode that Max’s time travel doesn’t completely erase consequence, as you can only rewind so far back, and I found myself feeling that this time around so much so that I sat down and started a new save from the beginning, just to see how different choices would change things. Some consequences were different, some I have yet to encounter, but despite being a fairly linear game, Life is Strange offers a fairly high degree of replayability, even this early on. I’m interested to see how these choices will add up in future episodes.

The only misstep this episode makes is what feels like an attempt to remind itself that it is a video game. Max jumps through a few hoops in an attempt to prove her powers to Chloe, including a small memory puzzle that feels kind of unrelated to just about everything. I also found myself a little exasperated with the sequence in the junkyard where Max wanders around collecting bottles for Chloe to shoot. Both felt like moments that were interjected just to offer a puzzle or two, and (as of the end of the episode) did not feel particularly important to the story.

New limits to Max’s abilities also feel a bit clunky, as they only seem to be imposed when the story calls for intensified emotional impact. There is no meter that players can see, nor is there a real indication of her exhaustion. She experiences nosebleeds and even faints after extensive use of her power, but the more serious consequence, where she is rendered too drained to rewind at all, occurs at the climax of the episode. Choices made in both episodes lead up to a very dramatic conclusion that cannot be altered through the use of Max’s ability. The emotional impact is undeniable; Max is a “superhero” but when she really needs to be, she has to rely on herself as she was before she discovered her ability.

Overall, Life is Strange Episode 2: Out of Time carries with it the solid characterization and choice-based gameplay seen in the first episode, but stumbles a bit with the actual flow of the game. The focus on the mechanics themselves almost seems to take something away from the story, but the end of the episode will resonate with players and leave them wondering what happens next.

The Good

  • Player’s choices have a real impact
  • Small details add life and texture to the world
  • Characters remain engaging and unique

The Bad

  • Mechanics occasionally get in the way of the story
  • Puzzle sequences

The Score: 8