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Life is Strange improves with Episode 2

May 8, 2015

By Alexander Cattani - G4 Canada

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Life is Strange: Episode 2: Out of TimeThe second episode of Life is Strange dials up the drama while alleviating some faults that surrounded the mostly competent debut episode. As protagonist Max Caulfield grows less and less ambivalent about her ability to undo time, she begins to develop a sense of self-righteousness, and flirts with the idea of using her power for more than just resolving trivial tasks. Bonds between characters are tested, while the effects of social torment begin to wear on a supporting character.

It was universally agreed upon that one of the more notable faults in the first episode was the inconsistent to poor writing. Though still dodgy in spots, character dialogue is much more earnest and less inane than in the previous chapter. It's a good sign to notice such an improvement this early on in the series, especially in a type of game that is carried solely by its story.

Life is Strange: Episode 2: Out of TimePacing however, is worse this time around and greatly suffers towards the middle of the episode. Uninteresting banter that isn't integral to the plot nor character development accompany a peculiarly out of place scene. The above-mentioned scene consists of scavenging around an uninhabited junkyard in hopes of finding empty beer bottles. It's as monotonous as it sounds and genuinely bogged down the whole episode, especially considering everything up until this section had been elegantly presented and entertaining.

Thankfully, the story picks up shortly thereafter when significant plot points established in the first episode come to a dramatic head. Without entering the realm of spoiler territory, the player is faced with the opportunity to counteract a certain event from taking place during the episode's final moments.

This particular scene in question deals with what could be considered a touchy topic to some. Controversial moments in games are far from foreign, but if handled with the appropriate amount of maturity, inclusions of sensitive or even taboo happenings can have a deep impact on the player, thus, furthering the narrative in a meaningful and potent way. Thankfully, Dontnod entertainment executes the scene gracefully and with care. It's refreshing to see video game narratives be bold enough to address serious issues and I greatly hope it is something that we see more of in the medium.

Life is Strange: Episode 2: Out of TimeOne of my main problems with Life is Strange up until this point, was how any sense of drama or consequence can begin to take hold if the player can simply undo most actions whenever they please. Episode 2 smartly deals with this, and through the narrative, cleverly limits the capabilities of Max's power. Furthermore, the aforementioned scene in the episode's finale cannot be undone. This excellent design decision resulted in one of the most intense moments in a game that I've experienced in some time. I even paused for a brief while to make sure that the choice I was about to commit to would be the most judicious decision moving forward. It was as if the decision would affect me, rather than Max.

I was emotionally spent after the episodes two and a half hour run. If you enjoyed your time with the first episode, you'd be hard pressed to not play its follow up. As it stands, Life is Strange remains one of the more captivating episodic games to be played this year. Here's hoping Episode 3 continues this trend when it's released later this May.

Life is Strange: Episode 2: Out of Time Life is Strange: Episode 2: Out of Time
Format: PS4
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
ESRB Rating: M for Mature (17+)
Official Site: http://lifeisstrange.com/index.php

Rating: 8 / 10

 
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About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.