Life Is Strange - Episode 2: Out Of Time Review
Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Microsoft Xbox 360, PC, Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox One
It’s fair to say that we loved the debut episode of Life Is Strange. The story, characters and setting all entwined seamlessly to create one of the best experiences we’ve had in 2015 so far. Furthermore, Max’s time travelling ability was an innovation that propelled it past the annoyances of Telltale’s decision system. So, do all these positive remarks carry over to the second episode, Out Of Time? We’re happy to report that they do, but unfortunately, that one niggling flaw still remains.
Out Of Time immediately transports us back into the world of Life Is Strange through the sounds of Alt-J. Before even a button had been pressed we had a smile on our face, we felt back at home with Life Is Strange. The second episode takes advantage of having already set the scene in Chrysalis, because the decisions you’ll be making here hold far more weight, the drama gets a lot more serious and relationships with characters can be taken to a whole new level. In short, episode one establishes the world and its main characters, while episode two builds on everything you’ve experienced and cranks it up a notch or two. And by the end of it, you’ll either be cursing at yourself or feeling like a god. At the same time though, you’ll still be laughing at Max’s little quirks and the comments she makes on things off to the side. She still feels like a real life character that we could be friends with, as our bond with her only grows stronger in Out Of Time. We feel for her as she is placed in awkward situations where she has to pick between friends and make harsh decisions that will influence future episodes.
Additionally, Out Of Time feels far more open compared to its predecessor. Many environments you visit in episode two are free for you to explore before going about your objective. There are far more people for you to talk to, and a lot more subjects to discuss. You can learn a great deal about Arcadia Bay by interacting with people who pass you on the street and homeless people sitting on the pavement. This helps to make the world of Life Is Strange feel like a real place, the town has a backstory that you can engage in and the people living there all have their own hopes and dreams. Arcadia Bay has the aura of a real and breathing place, which only helps to spur you on to saving it.
Episode two also takes us to new places, mainly the diner in town and “Chloe’s Secret Place”, which happens to be just a junkyard. This was especially welcome because episode one largely based itself around the school and the living halls, and we feared the game could dissolve into a sort of school soap opera, much like Waterloo Road. Out Of Time gets Max out of the house and takes her to places that are not only interesting, but also put certain people in peril and create some of the most intense scenes yet. We hope that future episodes continue this lineage of taking us to brand new settings, because they’re far more interesting and exciting than the bare walls of the girls’ dormitory. The diner also presents the player with many possible interactions with the likes of a police officer, truck drivers, school friends and Chloe’s mother. It’s here that the player gets to learn a little about Chloe’s backstory and what she’s like when we’re not around. This fleshes out her character and helps us to understand some of the things she’s going through.
Max uses her powers in new ways in Out Of Time, particularly in the diner. Here, Chloe tasks Max with predicting the future which creates a fun little gameplay segment. The player must observe as the scene plays out, rewind time and tell Chloe exactly what happens as she watches it in real time. We did fail this a few times, but it never felt like a chore. Unfortunately the junkyard isn’t as fun, where Chloe gives you the undertaking of collecting bottles scattered throughout the area. Thankfully though, this portion helps to set up a full twenty minutes of intensity that is the most thrilling but also dangerous serving we’ve experienced of Life Is Strange yet.
However much to our dismay, episode two is let down in the technical department, where the poor lip syncing from Chrysalis makes a return. It’s still just as noticeable and still just as off putting, particularly in the emotional scenes towards the end of the episode. It seems like the flaw is here to stay throughout the entirety of Life Is Strange which is a real shame because apart from that, the game really shines with its simplistic art direction. But a new defect in Out Of Time is the occasional frame rate drop. While they are sporadic, they are noticeable and disengage us from the gameplay whenever they occur. We completed the episode in two and a half hours, which is fairly lengthy for an episodic game. We hope upcoming episodes provide us with just as much content to engage with.
Out Of Time doesn’t make the same impact that Chrysalis did, but it is just as good in every respect. Exploring more of Arcadia Bay and interacting with new characters made it feel like a real place that we could visit ourselves, just without the impending doom. We enjoyed exploring the new environments of the diner and the junkyard, as well as the new ways to use Max’s power they introduced. Sadly the lip syncing issues haven’t been ironed out and they do seem to be here to stay, but we hope the frame rate issues we experienced will be a case isolated to Out Of Time. All in all though, episode two is a fantastic follow up that expands both the gameplay and story of Chrysalis and takes it to a whole new level, where we can use Max’s power in new ways and interact with characters in a different fashion. And now this leaves us and fans with the agonising wait for episode three.