Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: March 24th 2015
Available On: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Reviewer’s Note: I played this game on the PlayStation 4. There may be differences between versions.
The first episode of Life is Strange managed to surprise me, serving as a genuinely legitimate challenge to Telltale’s ever so popular episodic narrative games. Max’s story was interesting and the use of the time rewinding made for good puzzles and a different way for handling important story choices. Out of Time had quite a bit to follow up on, and I think that it managed to do so pretty well.
At the end of the first episode Max told Chloe about her time reversing powers and the two decided they would work on finding Rachael. The second episode does mention this, but there’s not much progress made here. Instead it more focuses on building the relationships between characters and how they got to the point they’re at. A real good chunk of the episode is devoted to Kate, the quiet Christian student who has the big misfortune of having a sex tape of herself on the Internet. Kate’s challenges take center stage here, and we get to see how the rumor spreading High School girls are going out of their way to slowly destroy Kate’s life. Depression and unwanted internet fame are big topics here, and they are handled well. While the first episode had me feel Kate was a little needy and troublesome to stick around, Out of Time made me sympathize with her as the episode made its way through her story. Outside of this, we get to see more of Chloe’s life with Rachel/without Max as she has to suffer from bad decisions made before the events of the game. There’s a fun chunk of humor devoted to Chloe testing if Max really has powers, and a little bit of supernatural mystery thrown in for good measure. I’m wondering where Life is Strange will go next, as it doesn’t quite have the intense action sequences or villains that Telltale’s games do, so there’s something going to go down.
The choices, both large and small, and dialogue still continue to be good enough for this type of game. It does lacks the constant dialogue options of Telltale’s games, Max often only has one route through a conversation, but the actual choices themselves are tough in a different way. In Telltale’s games the choices are often between who does and doesn’t die which is effective for those types of games. Life is Strange instead mostly involves which friends I had to cater to and planning out actions for them. Early on Kate suggests going to the police about the video, as she worries that local “so rich it’s insane” kid Nathan drugged her. Max can either suggest she goes to the police, getting herself involved in the investigation in the process and becoming a further target to a kid she already knows is dangerous, or she can suggest Kate drops it which makes Kate upset and lest trusting of Max. It’s not a life or death choice, but it was enough that I found myself contemplating reversing time to pick the other option out of fear that it wasn’t going to work the way I hoped.
Out of Time also boosts up the number and challenge of puzzles. The first episode had a few puzzles that only really seemed to serve as an example of what they could do, and not really use it in any extraordinary way. Out of Time has a lot more fun with this, especially concerning Chloe and Max’s testing of how far her powers can go. An early scene has Chloe asking Max to name all the items in her pockets and give some brief description of them, which caused me to have to trick her into showing them to me followed by looking them over, reversing time, and trying to reiterate little details of what I saw. Shortly after I had to watch and reconstruct a scene at the diner, and even later than that I had to give Chloe directions on which way to aim a gun while she was blindfolded. Messing around with Chloe isn’t the only thing Max does, a later puzzle involving trying to stop a train has multiple ways to solve it (which will probably effect the game later) and manages to be a somewhat intense moment even with the knowledge that there’s not much in the way of failure.
Out of Time ends on a striking note that really wraps the themes of the episode around and get me ready for the next episode. While the main story arc may not have moved much, giving the side characters a time to shine pays off and at least makes me ready for when their stories do come up. Out of Time shows Life is Strange at its best yet, and hopefully it’s all up from here.