Life is Strange, Episode Two Review

  • First Released Jan 29, 2015
  • PS4
Alexa Ray Corriea on Google+

Not-so-super girl.

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Life is Strange is at its best when it's letting you talk to people. Some of the best moments are between Max, the hero of this story, and Chloe, her new/old best friend. Others involve Max delicately navigating a verbal encounter with little to wield other than words...and if need be, her time-bending superpower. Life is Strange's first episode was a great setup for the world of Blackwell, where young adults struggle to find meaning and purpose in their lives, but was ultimately a little too bogged down by its time-rewinding mechanic. The mechanic still gets in the way of some poignant moments in Episode Two, Out of Time, but it is here that the game slowly begins introducing the limitations to Max's power. This not only makes for some interesting encounters but drives the episode to an emotional high point that left me feeling raw, empty, and very impatient for the next installment.

Max's story is getting darker. Chloe has warmed up to Max, and the episode opens with our young heroine on her way to meet her old friend for breakfast. She's still dealing with the fallout of her run-in with Nathan Prescott in the previous episode, and--depending on choices you made in the previous episode and a few ones you'll make early in this one--has becoming a looming, omnipresent threat to Max's existence. She's doing her best to balance this danger with being a good friend; not just to Chloe, but to Kate Marsh, another troubled girl. On top of all that, Max is getting wrapped up in Chloe's problems, which turn out to be more sinister than having a militant stepfather. And as before, the adults in Life is Strange act like frightened children, completely inept at being helpful to these angsty teens and behaving in ways that no sensible real-world adult would.

In Episode One, I was bothered by the throwaway mentions of Rachel Amber, the girl who took Max's place as Chloe's bestie after she moved away, and who has since gone missing. Episode Two drops large hints that maybe we're looking at the wrong people; this might not be Max's story after all, but the story of an even greater mystery. There may only be just enough room for Max in Chloe's and her friends' world to solve these horrible problems. A missing girl. An approaching tornado. The one person with the power to stop it all may be the least important in the equation.

Every encounter counts.
Every encounter counts.

Adding to the uptick in narrative intrigue is the gradual introduction of the limitations of Max's power. Red splotches crowd the sides of the screen every time you rewind, indicating that Max is physically harming herself with her abilities. Out of Time slaps Max, and you, with the realization that these powers come with a price. This fragility, the knowledge that these powers don't make Max some infallible entity that can perpetually change her choices, gives the choices you do make more weight. Max is no longer balancing teenage problems with unlimited power; she's balancing teenage problems with a dangerous tool that can harm as well as help.

The tone of Episode Two is confusing to place, largely because of lengthy sequences that come across as too "gamey" and thus detract from the story. There are two instances in this episode where Life is Strange aggressively reminds you that it is a video game; the heartfelt narrative of a young girl's struggle to be a force of good takes a backseat to fetch quests and memory puzzles. These moments weaken the tension of Life is Strange and I felt frustrated, as these sequences seem to take up time for the sake of adding some kind of game element. However, I learned to tamp down my impatience, as these moments give limitless breathing room to explore. I learned more about Chloe's relationship with Rachel by scouring a junkyard and more about Kate Marsh's home life by lingering in her dorm room. It doesn't become apparent until the end of the episode that these tedious stretches have huge story impact. This is why I say the tone is confusing; Life is Strange wants you to stay tense and pay attention, yet simultaneously encourages you to stop and smell the roses, without much warning of when you're supposed to do either. The solution is to keep on your toes, look at everything, and talk to everyone, because you genuinely never know when something will be important later.

Adults who behave like children, children who are trying to be adults.
Adults who behave like children, children who are trying to be adults.

This is never more evident than at the episode's end, when "make or break" becomes too light a description for what Max has to do. Every choice you've made in the first two episodes, every decision you made connected to someone around Max, comes to a head here. This is where it ends, and where Life is Strange becomes more than an episodic video game. It becomes a window into the world of the young, where it's either your oyster or it's ending, when you're too naive to think of the future. Bullying, drugs, wanting to be liked, feeling misunderstood, channeling emptiness into lashing out at others--this is why life is strange as a young adult. It's a rare person that doesn't wish she they could go back and get just one more chance with someone, with something.

Out of Time gives real meaning to the choices you've made. And by its conclusion, you'll know whether or not Max, your version of Max, is a bad confidante. The episode's turning point depends on how well you've paid attention to your classmates, how flakey or how helpful you've been for a certain friend. It requires you to have scoured every nook and cranny, poked into every room and fed your curiosity by examining everything. Because if you haven't, the outcome can't be undone under any circumstances. Life is Strange is actively testing how much you, the player, care. It's a subtle way to imbue a lot of power into the choice mechanic, and it sneaks up on you without warning.

Is this the relationship that matters most?
Is this the relationship that matters most?

Despite the great way Out of Time handles emotional payoff, it suffers from problematic dialogue. Characters will display conflicting emotions over the course of a conversation that ping pong between extremely positive and extremely negative, without cause. In one instance, a character warms up to you and comments how you've been missed, and when you respond positively she suddenly, nastily, ask if you're making up for something you did wrong in Episode One. Another instance has someone admit she knows you care about her, and when you say that yes, you do care, she suddenly shouts that nobody cares about her. It makes no sense and makes many of these conversations feel like uphill battles in the dark. It's harder to placate someone or do what you think is right when there's a good chance that no matter what you say his or her response is completely out of your control.

Life is Strange still has problems with its dialogue and pacing, but Episode Two reaches emotional heights that are worth the journey. Your choices as Max are finally beginning to take on meaning, and the trajectory of her role in this messy story is more unclear than ever. But that's a good thing; stories about people with infallible power are boring. Max is no superhero; she's just a girl trying to be just and do right by everybody. But like in the real world, trying to please everyone has consequences, and Life is Strange lets you know that with a shot right to the heart.

Alexa Ray Corriea on Google+
Back To Top
The Good
The choice you've made finally matter
Introducing limitations to Max's power making them more interesting
A larger, more intriguing mystery is revealed
Ends on a heart-wrenching emotional high point
The Bad
"Gamey" sequences drag the flow down
Problematic, conflicting dialogue makes no sense
About GameSpot's Reviews
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About the Author

Alexa Ray Corriea played through Life is Strange's second episode multiple times to see just how much impact she had on Max's world. She cried every time.
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Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

I think I know where the "make-no-sense" dialogue is; it occurs after Chloe and Max had hung out, which is the penultimate act of this episode. It's bizarre pseudo-science bullshit interspersed with their remarks about the week.

This is followed later by some dialogue between Max and certain other characters whose ugly sides have been shown earlier. Perhaps this is some attempt to make these other characters seem more sympathetic, but I personally don't find it convincing. It seems to me that Dontnod has placed this there just for the sake of that attempt, but has not designed the circumstances of the scenario to make it seem less forced.

I am referring to the dialogue between Madsen and Max at the last act. Like the principal, Madsen is standing around in plain sight, despite their duties which certainly do not include idling around in corridors. The previous episode has shown that Madsen goes out and about, and this scene contrasts too greatly.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

I am glad that I am watching someone else's playthrough and reading the wiki for the game instead of spending time to experience this game first-hand.

Seems like the game is mainly about making decisions while being caught between a rock and a hard place.

Avatar image for bobothemighty

Ehhh...why are high school bullies always portraited negatively, like in this game? We have a sensitive side too, you know?

It's actually a pretty cool game... I've been playing it in-between Alien Isolation sessions, it's a great way for relaxing from that damn unfriendly xenomorph.

Wish they could improve it on technical side...shame it keeps it from it's full potential.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

@bobothemighty: The bullies are not entirely one-dimensional, but their redeeming qualities are not enough to invoke sympathy from every player.

Avatar image for deactivated-583276a1d2d91

Finally got around playing episode 2. Awkward dialogs, awkward characters, cheesy lines, cliché characters. The shy one, the junky one, the football ahole one, the b.... one, the friendzoned one, etc etc. Its badly written, awful voice acting, bad lipsync, filled with girly teen angst making really hard to connect with the characters and the story. The junkyard part was awful, looking for bottles was a pain. I couldnt even connect with Kate who is trying to kill herself at the end because she was filmed by some people who drugged her and abused of her body. Even the damn songs are indie teen angst-style.

Avatar image for mohammedrouzbeh

It's a good one.

when started seemed like one of those girly cheesy games but it touches very deep and dark issues between these teenagers (rape ; losing beloved ones ; friendship ; twists of life) and becomes a very complicated game which a wrong conversation can take someone's life down the road.

It's like a great coming age movie at the same time of being a good game that you participate has one of the best scripts I've ever played.

(btw if you played the 1st chapter play the second one too it's way way better.)

as a semi grown-up man can't wait for the next chapter next month.

Avatar image for vonallan

This game is actually quite good ( thats what you get for low expectations). It´s worth a playtrough-this comes of course based on the two released episodes. Wonder how it all comes together in the end...

Avatar image for MonkeyKing1969

"... Life is Strange wants you to stay tense and pay attention, yet simultaneously encourages you to stop and smell the roses, without much warning of when you're supposed to do either. "

I can see that but isn't that all games. Go save the world...but well you could help this little girl find her cat...or you could go off to this cave to find magic gems. Games are often hurry up story with do what you want gameplay...most RPGs are like that to a serious mind-dizzying fault.

I love Life Is Strange so far. I could definitely handle four or five more games like this all with different stories.
Telltale Games and Dontnod are really telling similar types stories, so when I say I'd like to see more I want an expansion of tones, settings, and stakes playing out in such games.

I'd almost say Max's powers could be interesting if nothing were at stake. What if you could just change outcomes when it seemingly didn't matter. What happens when you own narcissism for "having it go your way" catch up to you making inconsequential events build up to a huge negative consequence....oh wait that is the story of "Can't Buy Me Love", right?

The only annoying thing I don't like is having all those high school students be 18 or 19...what? Sure I have seen 20 year olds with Max's build and I have seen 30 years olds with her naivete. But let's get real, this is a story about a sophmore in highschool and her 17 y.o dropout friend. It is sort of sad that Dontnod could just say, "Yup these are minors. Yup they have issues with guns, drugs, crime, abuse, broken homes, etc. I suppose it woudl have been AO rated to have minors 'smoking up' or getting smacked by their stepfather...but at least it woudl be honest. Just oen of those video game things I guess, just like the discontinuity of saving teh world but taking the time to stop someone from getting hit with a football.

Avatar image for 0m39AX

This game feels like Heavy Rain meets Gus Van Sant 'Paranoid Park'(2007), combined with Richard Linklater's 'Waking Life'(2001) aesthetics. Oh, and sometimes it has some Shenmue's sense of introverted exploration in it. I've been enjoying it so far.

Avatar image for Panzer_Zwei

This feels like is a pretty mid-90's adventure game, specially the puzzle design. In the first episode you use your aweomse time rewind superpowers to pick up stuff that fell just a bit out of reach below a cabinet, and now you use it to prevent some glass bottle from breaking. Not very imaginative to say the least.

Avatar image for indzman

What kind of game is this? blah blah blah type or shoot stuff type ????? Never heard of it before lol

Avatar image for 0m39AX

@indzman: It's like Heavy Rain meets Gus Van Sant 'Paranoid Park', combined with Richard Linklater's 'Waking Life' aesthetics. Oh, and sometimes it has some Shenmue's sense of introverted exploration in it.

Avatar image for suppaphly42

@indzman: it most likely not for you if anything other then shoot stuff is blah blah blah there is COD for that

Avatar image for iandizion713

@indzman: its a cinematic interactive game. i would say a drama adventure one at that.

Avatar image for geiasou

@indzman: its a breath of fresh air..i was playing the demo and as soon as the main character gets out of class and the music starts playing, i was like "this is something special". I then went straight to the marketplace and bought the season pass.

Avatar image for Morphine_OD

@geiasou: actually it's pretentious and boring, it's main demographic being hipster wannabes who consume pretentious products not noticing that it's the new mainstream.

Avatar image for Link3301

@Morphine_OD@geiasou: Or you know, maybe some people just like the game.

Avatar image for l0ne_wanderer

@Morphine_OD@geiasou: man, are you cereal? you sound like a total douche.

Avatar image for warriors30

I had mixed feelings about the first episode.

I like the look of this game, a lot. It has a great atmosphere. The whole time bending mechanic (not to say gimmick) is interesting and often really well executed. It's a refreshing thing to see, in this kind of game, and some of the puzzle stuff was well designed, in my opinion. There is A LOT of stuff (in the environment) to interact with, not all of it is even remotely interesting, but I still like the amount of detail. The main character is likeable.

Here are the things I didn't really like... I'm not invested in the story yet. I finished episode 1 without really caring about anything. I blanked out a couple of times, to be honest. Some of the characters are downright awful and unlikable (intentional or not) and some of the voice acting, dialogue and writing is cringeworthy, to say the least. I'm getting a strong "pretentious hipster" vibe from this game, can't say I'm a fan of that. I used to work as a photographer myself, but some of this stuff is REALLY over the top.

That being said, I give episode one a generous 7/10, because this series has good potential. I'm looking forward to this new episode.

Avatar image for justinneveritt

Curious, how do you feel they've handled the photography references thus far? Would you say they've been accurate?

Avatar image for DuskStrider

The two "The Bad" criticisms about this episode are totally on point. Collecting those bottles for Chloe while she just sat there doing nothing had me like "Girl... why am I doing all the work while you get to shoot them?"

Avatar image for hughthehand88

@DuskStrider: why would you want to walk around a beautiful world or find out more about other characters? if all you got out of that was bottles, well there's not much i can do for you. if they didn't give players a reason to explore many would just power through. it's amazing the amount of hand holding even a game like this needs to do...omg i have to pay attention to things in this room?! i just powered through the dialogue derr...

Avatar image for Hurvl

I always wait until all episodes are out before I consider buying an episodic game, so in that case these reviews don't tell the whole story, because we ourselves don't know the whole story of the game. I doubt this is one game I want to buy, but the overall content doesn't seem that bad and might get better once it's complete.

Avatar image for Kinguard73

@Hurvl: I got the entire thing for 20 bucks and what I got is an interactive sci fi story that should be a TV series. It's a twin peaks meets your so called life kinda thing. This for only 20 bucks thus far is a hit for me. Might turn out the best bang for my dollar I ever gotten.

Mainly for all the silliness of some of the dialogue I am so stuck on this I can't wait til May and will NEVER buy a season pass and play it like this I will wait til it all comes out THEN play it all.

Avatar image for suppaphly42

i really like this game. aside from the fact i can't identify with max all that much, as the experiences that men and women have in high school are different i put that aside and go on.

ok i have a few gripes about the negatives in this review, although i do not argue with the score i have to point out a few things i feel are weird to complain about. "gamey sequences drag the flow down" this IS a game so it should be treated as one. when ever a games npcs' are rushing you, for what ever reason, ignore them. unless there is a timer of some kind, the rushing is just there for realism if you buy into it then you will always miss stuff.

the episodes are short enough with out being rushed so take your time and find it all. i don't get why flow is something to be concerned with, its not a movie/tv show, book, song or theater play, if they did not want you to explore the world and find things then it would be on rails.

next real life is stranger then fiction as fiction has to make sense- mark twain

so that said i feel when some of the npc's are acting bipolar this to me comes off as more real. people are irrational they don't make sense so when someone is, SPOILER, about to commit suicide they are going to be erratic, they have not thought it through, they are doing it because life is strange and sometimes the here and now is all a person can see.

now after all that the rest of the review is good IMO

Avatar image for meowstan

I just finished ep 2 and I have to say it was entertaining to say the least. I really enjoy how the choices from ep 1 come back into play. I'm glad I have 2 diff saves each with different choices so I can go back through and see what the storyline is like. I am not overly thrilled with the episode feature it seems they really cut the story off, at the end of episodes. A good mechanic to keep us coming back but necessary, I don't think so. I also wish there was a bit more opportunities to explore the areas, like the town around the diner.

Overall, another great episode, I think episode one had a bigger impact, but episode 2 was more enjoyable. Cannot wait for the next episode hope it's soon.

Avatar image for iandizion713

@meowstan: i agree with that, i grew tired of the "i dont want to go that way" approach of limiting me and forcing me to play on rails. the environments looked so cool, but you couldnt go anywhere.

Avatar image for meowstan

Yes, I feel this episode was worse than the first mostly because anywhere you went in ep 1 was fenced or blocked off. Episode 2 clearly dangled areas in your face then wouldn't allow you to explore. I woulda have loved a bit more area to roam, I get limits but some areas just seemed too limited.

Avatar image for suppaphly42

@meowstan: well i have to point out when your hanging out with a friend do you just walk off into the woods by yourself :P

Avatar image for Jasurim

I really enjoyed this episode, I managed to get into it more than the last one. The more cliché dialogue feels like it has been toned down too, either that I got used to it.

As for the tonal shifts in dialogue I personally don't think they were too glaring, at least in my play through. I think its a hard thing to get spot on in any game where we're given choices and it felt on par with other similar games I've played.

Avatar image for Pierce_Sparrow

Really enjoying the game, and for a lot of the reasons here, but only because I disagree. The one part of the episode I didn't like was the bottle hunting part, but otherwise, I love what they have done with this game. Most adventure games like this that I've played are some kind of fantastical adventure rooted in something far more fantasy oriented or supernatural. Despite Max's time travel abilities, the game still feels very grounded and natural. I like that it's kind of normal, and if the game doesn't seem like it's realistic to you in the way the characters talk and act, you haven't been to an art school. It's refreshing to see a game focus on something that's so relatively normal and apart of life. It actually makes the drama that much more intense in that it's relatable. Can't wait for the next episode.

Avatar image for iandizion713

pretty meh episode, cant wait to watch the next episode. ending was best part, but even it was kinda meh, although we could have made some different choices, i feel we made the best ones. i would rate it a 5-6.

Avatar image for squarejp

Episode 1 starts slow and I'm fortunate enough to purchase the game when Episode 2 just come out so I can quickly continue. The main character's ability is pretty limited, but I think love and care are more powerful than rewinding time. You can't rewind time to improve the history outcome if you don't have enough love and care. Otherwise, history will repeat itself in a vicious cycle no matter how many times you rewind.

The end of Episode 2 brings such message and it's very powerful! Also great use of Bible message with careful dialogue selection.

I would give this game at least 8/10. It has nice music, great voice work and create emotional high points. I can forgive the flaws such as not so fluid animations, conflicting dialogues, and slow pace in a peaceful town.

Avatar image for NTM23

I really enjoyed both the episodes, and thought two was pretty tense, and emotional near the end. I don't really get the terrible dialogue comments; it's not the greatest, but it's fine in my opinion, and backed with largely great voice work. The character details and lip sync aren't great, but otherwise I think it looks great artistically, and it backs the realistic setting just fine. Some of the dialogue comes off as not matching though, where a character would speak too soon after another, or a character would mention another character as that person sits right there, as if they weren't; those two instances only happened once, but it was kind of off putting.

I think some of the characters you talk to have emotional problems; that's obvious, but it makes a few of the choices needlessly harder to choose than normal, where the act of simply answering a phone call to talk to a depressed girl makes your best friend angry... That said, in Max's journal, she covers some of that, so it's not just the player thinking that her friend is being unrealistically selfish at a certain moment. So far, with the two combined, I've enjoyed every moment of it, and the length is great to me. When it comes to dialogue, I don't think it's so much the dialogue that's bad, but the style that some may dislike.

Avatar image for Bionic_

I liked the second episode better. Maybe because finally choices from the first episode came out into play and because of the ending.

Avatar image for wgerardi

Loving Life is Strange so far... Sometimes it gets a little wonky, but I'm finding it easier and easier to forgive small inconsistencies as I progress through the story.

Avatar image for illmatic87

Review is hella Amazeballs.

Avatar image for NTM23

@illmatic87 People had a problem with 'hella', but people say it. I've never heard amazeballs though.

Avatar image for Pierce_Sparrow

@NTM23: People say amazeballs too. It's not often said, but it's said.

Avatar image for NTM23

@Pierce_Sparrow: Probably, just saying I've never heard it. I've heard 'hella' many times before.

Avatar image for deactivated-58a78a043e9d4

@illmatic87: [Insert 80s pop culture reference]

Life is Strange More Info

  • First Released Jan 29, 2015
    • Android
    • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
    • + 7 more
    • Linux
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Life is Strange is a hand drawn work of art and every action enacts a butterfly effect - but with the power to rewind time, what would you change? And would it turn out to be a change for the better or worse?
    Average Rating624 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    DONTNOD Entertainment, Feral Interactive
    Published by:
    DONTNOD Entertainment, Square Enix
    Action, Adventure
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Blood, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs and Alcohol