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‘Life is Strange: Episode Two’ continues world-building, expands mysteries

‘Life is Strange: Episode Two’ continues world-building, expands mysteries


Life is Strange: Episode Two–Out of Time
Developed by Dontnod Entertainment
Published by Square-Enix
Available on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC

With the debut of the second part of Life is Strange, Dontnod has proven that their first episode was far from a fluke. Intense, expansive, and grounded in reality (well, except for those time travel bits) Out of Time takes this series even further toward a potential Game of the Year nomination.

Picking up where the previous episode finished, much of this second part deals, at least in passing, with Max attempting to prove her abilities to her friend and confidante, Chloe. Though the motivation behind this can come across as a tad silly, it’s not hard to imagine that an overwhelmed art school student might cling so desperately to a notion of friendship and support in an environment that is new and frightening to her.


Leading into the gameplay mechanics, these proving ground sections allow the player to wow Chloe again and again with her newfound time travel technique, and players would be hard pressed not to feel a giddy thrill at Chloe’s enthusiastic reactions. During these segments, choice issues are expanded upon, like why a seemingly level-headed and well-adjusted woman might involve herself with a damaged and dangerous man, or how problems we would prefer to ignore have a way of creeping back up on us. Elements like these allow for Life is Strange to never feel to far removed from our own realm of existence, even with the sometimes out of touch dialogue and the science fiction influences that occasionally make their presence known.

Speaking of science fiction influences, Out of Time expands heavily on one of Twin Peaks finest attributes, in the form of world-building. Much of the run time of this episode is spent on growing the attachment players will have with the town of Arcadia, and Blackwell Academy, as well as cementing a connection with its many denizens. For the most part, this decision is rendered effectively, with some characters from the first part showing different colors, while others are simply shown through a different lens, allowing us to see how some of the other characters perceive them.

Delivering further on the promise of the first episode, more than one of your original decisions will crop up unexpectedly here to either bite or alleviate you accordingly, sometimes both. The world of Life is Strange is far removed from games that give you the illusion of choice, while carefully pushing you along a predestined path, or saddle you heavily with a black and white morality system. In fact, even this episode contains a few choices that will likely be popping up next time around, even as it skips out on the consequences of a few of your decisions from Chrysalis. How and when these causalities will make themselves known in the remaining three episodes makes for a growing feeling of suspense that’s difficult to shake.


Going further with the choice mechanic, it is becoming readily apparent that there is a two-tier choice system, with some unavoidable choices where the screen freeze-frames to let you know of the gravity of what you’re about to decide, but also some smaller, seemingly insignificant moments that are looking to possibly have a profound effect on the remainder of the story. A particular moment that will have players quirking their heads is the continuing idea of watering your plant, which shows a notable butterfly symbol, telling you that this will affect your future. Truthfully, the mystery of the plant, and what relevance it could possibly have, may find itself at the forefront of this discussion before long–or, at the very least, at the center of a new meme.

That the game sticks to its guns, though, is much to its credit. An especially difficult and devastating moment comes toward the end of the episode, and when the player stats were revealed at the conclusion of the episode, it was tough not to leave the experience with a heavy heart. Even more so than ChrysalisOut of Time shows that your decisions really do matter in this world, and that you will have a lot to walk away with by the time the end comes.

Finally, a mention must be made of the suspicion that Dontnod seems to be expanding Max’s arsenal of abilities in the lead-up to a possibly apocalyptic event, and the atmospheric weather elements and further developments of Max’s premonition bode well for the unraveling of a mystery that will hopefully deliver on all of its cryptic promise.

Powerful, memorable, and affecting, Life is Strange‘s second episode gives players even more reason to invest in this world, and will likely have everyone sticking around to check out its remaining three episodes.

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