Life is Strange: Episode 2 – Out of Time Review

Out of Time is the second part of DotNod’s five chapter long, episodic adventure, Life is Strange. If you have read my review on the first episode titled Chrysalis, you would already know my early feelings toward the title. I wasn’t exactly frothing at the mouth for the release of the second episode with a fair amount of concerns toward the direction of the story and the title seemingly being aimed at a teen audience. Hating my job here on CD, I sat and booted up episode 2, with my only hope being that the game would progress and quickly grow up. Quick warning, this review will contain spoilers for episode 1.

My greatest concern with the first episode was the feeling that the game wanted to dive into real life situations that teens faced, yet seemed to shy away from real consequence of actions due to our lead characters power. Our character, Max, has the power to reverse time and change the outcome of situations to make her world and the world of others a better place. This feature added to the game play with many puzzles and problems requiring the mechanism. However say something wrong or choose poorly and you simply reverse time and replay through, with the right choices already attained. Being a game that relies on direction from choice, the experience of Life is Strange was diminished due to its main trick. My other gripe was that the issues that were tackled were not exactly the greatest of importance in the real world. Boyfriends sexting other girls and stray footballs hitting people are not the worlds greatest problems even for teens. However the first episode did, slowly, set up bullying, drug abuse and fitting into society well without fully exploring the issues.

Through the first half hour of episode 2 I had the ill feelings of more of the same. The slow pacing and seemingly dull interaction with miniscule and irrelevant problems seemed to be on the cards again, much to my dissatisfaction. However, what I had not realised was even though I had found the first episode a little boring and the subject matter a little underwhelming I had formed an empathy and connection with some of the games characters that I had not realised.

Firstly there was our lead, Max, a female student who is artistic and has an overwhelming love of photography. She is also compassionate, caring and worried about the world’s issues, and she actually reminds me a lot of my own daughter. Then there is Chloe who we saw as a troubled teen, into punk rock and not feeling thrilled about life due to her dislike of her step father and the fact that her best friend has simply vanished with no trace. Kate, a devout Christian who simply can’t fit into today’s non religious school system where popularity is more important than God and she receives her dose of bullying due to this. Then there is the other side, Nathan and Victoria, the two rich kids who come from powerful families and get joy out of power and humiliation, but surely they have their own insecurities?

This connection becomes fully realised after the slow first half hour build up and finally consequence becomes real. Our lead Max is struggling to use her powers when she wishes and the situations increase from minor to life altering extremely quickly. In making Max’s ability redundant and a script that accelerates rapidly after the slow build up DotNod has finally got me t where I wanted this title to take me.

It is very seldom that a game that hinges on choice actually makes these choices count so dramatically, without giving too much away I can say that finally one of these games is delivering. I now preach as a converted, Bravo DotNod, I can’t wait for the next chapter!

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