Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Review: Life is Strange: Episode 2: Out of Time (PC/PS4)

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What will you change?

Last time, in Life is Strange…

No, really. Episode 2 opens with an actual factual recap. It’s a nice little feature, considering it’s been over a month since the last entry into Dontnod and Square-Enix’s adventure series. The recap reminds players that Max has the power to rewind time; that her friend Chloe is back in her life; that she’s trying to work to find the missing student from Blackwell Academy, Rachel Amber.

Out of Time takes place the very next day.

There’s not a lot that I can write here, because the majority of this update is story-related. The gameplay is the same as before–Max can rewind time a short bit and change her decisions, from something as minor as wiping a slate clean to stopping bullying. The time mechanic gets used more here, and there are several major decisions to make, including the most important: belgian waffle, or bacon omelette?!

Dontnod does do some pretty intriguing things with the power, though. Through Chloe they begin to tinker with the workings of Max’s new superpower, whether it’s helping her to aim a gun when shooting for fun or predicting the goings-on in a diner. We also get to see some of the consequences of its overuse, culminating in an emotionally-wrenching scene. It helped ease my fears for Dontnod’s development, given the awkward dialogue and lack of plot from episode 1.

Speaking of the dialogue, it’s a lot better than before. There’s still the occasional strange line of dialogue, sure, but Dontnod has done a much better job at smoothing out the lines and making them feel natural instead of try-hard. Also improved is the technical issue from before in the PC version; characters no longer stutter through their dialogue as they did when I had the issue in Chrysalis, although there are several frame-rate drops in both the PC and PS4 version as the camera pans around.

Additionally, decisions from the previous episode do indeed have weight in this installment. One minor spoiler, for instance, is that Victoria–the class bully–remains mad at Max for taking her picture, whereas she’s a little softer should players have chosen to comfort her after having paint spill on her new clothes. It’s a nice throughline, and makes the decisions feel weighty on the world of the game, especially in the final sequence.

We do get to learn more about the people surrounding Max, including Kate Marsh, who seemed to figure into her life in a major way in the previous episode, yet got very little narrative weight until now.

All in all, Life is Strange: Episode 2 ups the story’s stakes; the tornado still looms over Arcadia Bay, and Max’s superpower could be hitting its limits. Even more, it raises questions: why is security guard David Madsen so obsessed with Kate Marsh and missing Rachel Amber? What exactly was the relationship between Chloe and Rachel? And how much more threatening will Max put up with?

continuation of engaging story
-improved dialogue


-frame-rate drops when camera pans during cutscenes
-character models lack expression

Play it if: you’ve played the first episode and were intrigued. The story is furthered, but if no element of it intrigued you with Chrysalis, chances are you won’t be pulled in much more.

Life is Strange: Episode 2: Out of Time took approximately three hours to complete, and was played on PC and Playstation 4.

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