Review: Life Is Strange: Episode 2, Out of Time (PS4)

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Title: Life Is Strange: Episode 2, Out of Time
Format: PlayStation Network Download (3.2 GB)
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: DONTNOD
Original MSRP: $4.99 (Single Episode) / $19.99 (Complete Season)
ESRB Rating: M
Life is Strange is also available on PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Golden Minecart Award Winner 2015
– Best Newcomer (PS3)

Reviews of the Rest of the Episodes:
Review: Life Is Strange: Episode 1, Chrysalis (PS4)
Review: Life Is Strange: Episode 3, Chaos Theory (PS4)
Review: Life Is Strange: Episode 4, Dark Room (PS4)
Review: Life Is Strange: Episode 5, Polarized (PS4)

Gameplay:
“Previously on Life Is Strange…” This game continues to be largely what I want it to be. Except when it isn’t.

As with the first episode, our heroine Max is surrounded with opportunities to examine objects and interact with Non-playable Characters (NPCs). She really likes playing her guitar. Eventually she’ll get to the end of her song. And start over. Since the player controls when she stops you can’t fault the game for the song going on and on, especially since the music is really good! Of course, as with most choices in the game, you can choose to not play the guitar at all.

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There is a trophy in one girl’s room reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It TOTALLY reminds me of Amy’s mom! Like, for reals.

Speaking of trophies, when the game registers a trophy earned because Max has taken a photo, it cheats in a very clever way to keep the secret of the photograph which earns the trophy. That is very well done, indeed!

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This episode also includes a graffito referencing a famous quote from Joss Whedon’s show Firefly. But I ain’t sayin’ where. That’d be downright wrong!

… he mispronounced the name of his own boat …
After I have to take Max’s toiletries to the shower because the game makes a point of it, shouldn’t I also be carrying them back from the shower? So simple, so stupid. Once I rewound time and a prop I needed remained where I had been standing instead of coming with me. It was floating in space as well. No game-breaking bugs but some little glitches still happen.

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I spoke to a guy at a table in the parking lot of a diner. I didn’t realize there were fisherman stereotypes until now. “By Neptune’s beard…” really? Then he mispronounced the name of his own boat. Whoever wrote the name “Bali Hai” into the game must cringe every time the NPC says it. It is pronounced like the gym chain Bally’s without the apostrophe s but this voice actor pronounces it with the “a” like ball. Additionally the subtitles misspell it. It’s not Bali Hai. It’s Bali Ha’i. The name is the title of a song from the musical South Pacific. The musical is based on the book Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener. Michener took the name “Bali Ha’i” directly from a cardboard sign he saw on The Treasury Islands during World War II. I knew the name was mispronounced and misspelled because of my more than three decades in the theatre. Again, as occasionally in Episode One, sloppy.

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Someone who wrote this script has an affinity for musical theater! That, or this episode is full of accidental Broadway Musical references. Max says to a friend, “I am a camera” which is the title of a Broadway play based upon Christopher Isherwood’s 1939 novel Goodbye to Berlin. Most people know this material today as the musical Cabaret!

… your experiences may vary depending on how you play …
The gameplay feels redundant at times. We know Max can reverse time. Why are we being made, in a story-driven game, to play sections which are all about rewinding time for the sake of rewinding time? There are a few reasons supported by the plot but I won’t spoil them.

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There are occasionally some less than realistic moments like when the principal says “Excuse me. I have a meeting to attend.” And then never leaves. It’s disappointing.

There’s a line that Max keeps repeating. It becomes pretty annoying because it’s totally unnecessary after the second time. Two times to be sure the player gets that it may be important is acceptable but it starts to distract and detract. What’s worse is that when you finally get to what she’s talking about, there is no way it could possibly be mistaken for the term she uses. As if she kept repeating, “Where is that Olympic pool?!” over and over and over and over until you stumble upon an inflatable kiddie pool and she yells “Eureka! There it is!” I would have looked there if I’d have imagined her Olympic pool could fit in a 6 foot space. What a time-wasting experience. I’d like those repetitive, roaming 38 minutes of my life back, please. Disclaimer: your experiences may vary depending on how you play.

The end of Episode Two can be a bit shocking. I have two different saves going with two different sets of choices and achieved two very different Episode Two endings. You can check the choices you made previously right on the main menu screen for the save you want to continue playing.

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Visuals:
There are some clipping issues even in cutscenes but overall the game still looks good.

Audio:
There is a musical interlude which lends support to the 90’s feel of the game. Max is taking a bus into town and the trip is basically a music video a la Dawson’s Creek. Apart from that, the ambient surround sound is appropriate.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online components.

… some improvements and additions had been patched into both Episodes …
Conclusion:
Gameplay is surprisingly deeper than I expected now that the game has expanded into another episode. Remember you have to ask the right questions of the right NPCs to unearth this depth. Fortunately the rewind mechanic helps sometimes.

I thought it strange that Episode Two should be so much larger than Episode One in download size until I realized that some improvements and additions had been patched into both Episodes as well. One can now replay various chapters to make changes to one’s choices and thus outcomes. They seem to have fixed the problem with the game not pausing during screenshots. Mostly. It can still happen from time to time.

Even with the few very minor, slightly annoying issues Life Is Strange: Episode 2, Out of Time continues the story in a consistent and interesting manner.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Keith Dunn-Fernández

Keith Dunn-Fernández

An actor/director and more lucratively an Administrative Assistant at a small paper company in NYC, Keith loves his games. And he loves to write. And he is a bit of a sarcasmo.

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