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Xbox One Game Review

Life is Strange
Episode 2
Out of Time


Format: Xbox One
Publisher: Square Enix
RRP: £3.99
Click here to buy from Xbox Marketplace
Age Restrictions: 16+
Release Date: 24 March 2015

Max is a photography senior who saves her old friend Chloe by discovering she can rewind time. Max starts to experiment with her power and begins to wonder if it is related to her visions or the weird snow from the day before. But life goes on in Blackwell Academy and a certain viral video has become a major topic of discussion. Meanwhile, what did happen to the missing student Rachel Amber...?

Review imageLife is Strange is a five part episodic game that sets out to revolutionise story based choice and consequence games by allowing the player to rewind time and affect the past, present and future. It's a refreshing change of pace for those who usually get their kicks by playing fast paced FPS.

At £3.99 an episode (or £16 for the season pass that contains all the episodes) this is a steal. It's a no brainer. This is a fun and intense game. While some may argue that there's not very much to the actual game play, it's not really about that. This game is all about watching the story unfold and making numerous decisions that will flip the story on another path.

Now, I know that the choices probably don't make too wild a change to the main story (apart from one major event in this episode) but it's interesting to see things from a slightly different perspective.

Review imageIn this episode you have to convince Chloe that you can indeed reverse time and so this sees you having to play a scene through, make a mental note of everything, and then reverse time and tell Chloe the information she needs to know. Of course, you'll need to rewind time several times to get it spot on. Once that's been completed you have to pass another test that Chloe sets, to prove to her you can rewind time.

This episode opens up the characters a little more, especially your past with Chloe and her friendship with the missing girl Rachel Amber. The web of suspicion is cast wider in this episode as more and more of the characters in the game are revealed to have had strange connections with Rachel. It gets to the point where almost every character could have something to do with her disappearance.

Review imageAs with part one, you also have to find photo opportunities in the scenes. There are clues in your journal, but don't worry if you don't find them all, as you can go back through the scenes in a special mode that won't alter your original story choices but will allow you to search for the photo opportunities.

In addition it's good to see the developers adding some of the website links you come across into the real world. However, while you can visit there doesn't seem to be any site for www.BlackwellAcademy.ed.

Obvious comparisons will be drawn with Heavy Rain, however, Life is Strange is a lot more like a movie than Heavy Rain. The choices you have aren't especially groundbreaking and there's not much scope to step outside of the main narrative. Sure, there are little elements (like finding the homeless lady; or stopping a stray toilet roll from hitting one of your class mates) that you may or may not stumble upon, but it's more a case of following the main narrative and then choosing between one of a number of options. While those options do change the course of how you interact with characters throughout the rest of the game, I can't help thinking that it doesn't actually matter what choices you make as it won't make much difference to the outcome of the main narrative. Yes, in this episode there is a major event, but I suspect that no matter what outcome you experience a certain character will not be present in the game any more.

Review imageSo what we have here is a cut sequence heavy story with choices that shape some of the interactions with characters in the game. There is some fun to be had rewinding time and preventing accidents, or causing them, but if you want to get the most out of the story, then you're going to have to spend most of the time wandering around the environment and interacting with every object you come across.

While the actual episodes can be finished quite quickly, what is interesting here is replaying the game from the start. So that, for future episode reviews, I can give a more balanced view on the game I have three games on the go now. The first is the choices I made the first play through (where Max is cautious and helpful), the second saved file I played the game as a Max who was only really interested in herself and the third save slot I used to play Max as someone who would always go to the authorities and tell them what was going on. Now, going back to episode one allowed me to see things from a new perspective. There's a character, whose RV is in the car park of Blackwell Academy, who you wouldn't have even known was there (mainly because they weren't introduced to the game in part one). So, revisiting the earlier chapters will reap rewards for those that want to squeeze a little more depth out of the game.

Review imageIf I had one slight complaint, it was with the discussion you have with Justin and Trevor in the cafe. They are both sat at the table, but the conversation seems to make no sense. If you talk to Justin first he reveals something that when you talk to Trevor he also reveals as though Trevor hasn't just mentioned it... You get the same odd result if you talk to Justin first and then Trevor.

I can't remember a game where the music has played such an integral part of the atmosphere. For those that are enjoying the music, you can also listen to the official album for free via Spotify and YouTube.

It's a beautiful looking game, with an interesting storyline. It's certainly worth adding to your collection. £16 for all five episodes is a bargain you can't afford to miss out on. I don't think I've played a game like this before where I'm really invested in the characters. You do start to care about them... and in this episode, in particular, it can be quite heartbreaking.


Nick Smithson

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