Seven weeks is far too long to wait between episodes. Episode 1 was a fantastic opener, but the initial six-week wait between episodes became seven after a small delay. Considering Capcom recently released four episodes in four weeks for their episodic Resident Evil: Revelations 2, it would seem to make much more sense to follow their model by finishing development of a game and then releasing it, rather than frantically trying to meet deadlines every six weeks.
More to the point, with story-heavy content like this, it can be difficult to remember just what the hell is going on. The major events stuck in my head easily enough, but some of the interactions with smaller characters were much harder to recall. That said, checking Max's diary and her character bios was a big help, and for the most part, I felt like I was up to speed enough without needing to replay the first episode. Naturally, if you're holding off until every episode is out, you're not going to have a problem.
As we learned in Episode 1, Max has discovered that she can rewind time, giving the player an enormously satisfying skill of rewinding conversations, testing out multiple dialogue trees and carefully choosing what to say to people. Actions can be rewound too, which is something this episode plays with more as Max shares her skills with Chloe (the girl with the striking blue hair).
But first, Chloe needs a bit of convincing. So for starters, you'll have to tell her what's in her pockets, by having her show you, then rewind time and tell her in detail. For example, be sure to count the exact number of cigarettes in the packet. The tasks are very sedate, but just interesting enough to keep you going.
To get the most out of Life is Strange's episodes, it's becoming apparent that you'll need to play slowly. Dontnod clearly want you to explore the world as much as possible. There are posters to examine, newspaper clippings and emails to read and lots of interactive items that flesh out the world of Arcadia Bay and its locals. The environments are a joy to investigate too thanks to the game's painted aesthetic and beautifully lit locations. My Dualshock 4's Share button was spoiled for choice for screenshots.
I finished the episode in just over three hours, by reading everything I could find, exploring the alternative conversation choices before settling on one and also finding all the hidden photo opportunities in the school, outside the diner and the junkyard. I'd hate to think how short the episode would be if you blitzed through without paying any attention to these details, and I'd urge you not to do so.
These extra details aren't there merely to pad out the game. Some unearthed from snooping are hugely important by the end of the episode and you may find that you can't always rely on Max's rewind powers to save a situation.
The episode has a compelling finale, but perhaps treads water too much overall. With the first episode setting the scene so well, it was odd to see the supernatural side of the story take a backseat. A more important angle to the story is starting to take shape though and that is the issue of date rape drugs, which was only hinted at last time. Dontnod should be applauded for tackling such a disturbing subject matter as it's disappointingly rare that we see game stories attempt to take on these matters.
The character writing is getting stronger too and throughout the episode I found that my own opinions of some characters has been challenged and I've been forced to rethink how I think they might be involved with the overall story. It's hooking me in the way a great plot should and I wish I could fast forward time to Episode 3 now.
- Characters are fleshing out nicely
- Interesting use of rewinds
- Mature handling of a disturbing subject matter
- Sedate pace may frustrate
- Ridiculously long wait between episodes
- Minor slowdown in some cutscenes
The Short Version: Life is Strange's momentum could do with a little shove for the next episode, but once again I find myself eager for more. At times the episode treads water, but the optional discoverable details turn out to be important aspects that make the exploring worthwhile. It's just a shame that we have to wait six weeks (at least) for more.
We do not score episodic titles unless they can be purchased separately as standalone games, or at the reviewer's discretion. A score will be assigned to the entire season once complete.
Platform: PS4 (reviewed) | PS3 | X360 | XO | PC
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix