Dontnod Entertainment has decided to name the second episode of Life is Strange “Out of Time”, though given the game’s affection for everything Hipster, I wouldn’t be surprised if it did so ironically. Out of Time sure takes its sweet time to get anywhere interesting. You’ll be spending the episode chilling in Max’s dorm room, relaxing in a diner and collecting bottles in a junkyard – not exactly the most exciting and time sensitive of activities. True, there are still choices to be made and consequences to suffer or enjoy, but episode two ends up feeling like filler, picking up only in the last few minutes to ensure you’ll be excited enough for episode three.
As expected, the episode’s strength lies in the narrative, but not in what you actually do within that narrative. The story is the same, since no real progress was made in the first episode on all fronts. Rachel Amber is still missing, Max still has her mysterious powers and Kate is still acting weird. The only real difference is that now Chloe, Max’s best friend from childhood, is in on the secret. This leads to a whole part where the two just hang around and try to see what “cool stuff” they can do with Max’s newfound superpowers. It is towards the end of the episode when you start to feel like the game is finally picking up, and your choices start to have meaning. There’s an emotional chapter right before the end where Max starts to discover the physical toll her powers are taking on her right when she needs them the most. It’s a great scene that will surely stick with you well after you’ve finished the episode. Unfortunately, up until that point Out of Time is the epitome of taking it slow.
Out of Time’s slow-paced narrative is a great change for the player to become familiar with the characters and the town of Arcadia Bay. You do get to visit a few locations in Arcadia Bay and talk with the residents about the town, learning about what happened since Max’s family left for Seattle. Dontnod managed to perfectly capture the small town America you see in movies or read in books, right down to the disgruntled fisherman and the wise homeless woman. You even get to spend a significant chunk of the episode in a diner, people watching and devouring coffee and unhealthy food. I chose the bacon omelet for breakfast; hopefully, the consequences won’t include a surprise heart-attack.
But Life is Strange is not really about Arcadia Bay. It’s more about experiencing Max’s growing relationships with all the other characters, be it making enemies or forging friendships. There are a lot of conversations to have with students, teachers, parents and hobos, and those are what drives the story forward and give you insight into each character. So it is too bad that most characters aren’t all that interesting. Even Chloe is one-dimensional, switching between energetic punk-rocker to a depressed teen at a drop of a hat. All the others are simply a high-school stereotype, ranging from nerds to mean girls to jocks. The only character going through any kind of change is Kate March, the “bible freak” as her classmates call her. In Out of Time you get to speak with her a little more and find out about the causes for her weird behavior. I won’t spoil anything, but Kate’s story arch deals with some pretty dark stuff, and is the most interesting thing in this episode.
The most important character you get to spend more time with is Max herself. Now that the novelty of time manipulation has worn off, you can start to figure out what kind of person she is. The answer to the question is “annoying”. Max’s inner monologue is that of a teenager trying to romanticize and see hidden meaning in everything. Every line of it tries to sound deep and thoughtful, but instead comes out as tiresome or pretentious. Her dialog is much more straight forward, and does sound like something an actual person would say, but it’s mostly reactive so no real insight there. However, her rekindled friendship with Chloe does bring out her more real and interesting parts, so there’s hope for her yet.
The puzzles are another area where Out of Time gives me hope. In the first episode all the puzzles were there just to help the player understand the “do’s and don’ts” of time rewinding. This time, puzzles are a little more diverse, ranging from dialog choices to inventory-based puzzles similar to those in classic adventure games. Most of them rely on keen observation and memorization, forcing the player to pay close attention to detail or face the consequences. Some even manage to create a sense of urgency, which is quite a feat considering the fact Max can always rewind time and try again.
Surprisingly, Life is Strange: Out of Time does end up feeling like a worth-while journey. The laid back atmosphere and Arcadia Bay’s small town charm win you over and help you get through the slow-paced story. There’s enough action and excitement towards the end to tide you over till the next episode, so just relax and enjoy the ride – you have all the time in the world.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.