Despite the reveal at the end of the first episode that spells disaster for the residents of Arcadia Bay, the second episode of Life is Strange is rather calm and relaxed, as Max begins to test her new time travel abilities. The results of some decisions from the previous episode also begin to surface as Max becomes caught up with events going on at school.
Max spends most of her time in this episode with Chloe, her best friend before she moved away from Acadia Bay five years ago. In the time they’ve been apart, Chloe’s father has passed away, and her mother remarried, spurring her onto a path of teenage rebellion, fulfilling all the usual vices: drink, drugs, and indie rock n’ roll. While Max and Chloe begin to rebuild their friendship, there’s an underlying tension between them. They’ve both changed—no longer the innocent tweens they once were and a little sad about the fact.
When faced with making a decision, it’s hard to know what the right choice is for the outcome you want. There’s a balance to be had between acting emotionally and acting logically. Do we tell them what they want to hear or should we be more honest with them? I’ve already had one decision from the first episode turn against me, though I wouldn’t be surprised if went back in my favour in future episodes. What makes the decision-making difficult is that we don’t have a grasp on these characters, we don’t know which of them are safe to trust, though we know they are keeping secrets.
Something I completely missed in the first episode, is that each episode has a set of optional decisions that are found by wandering the world between destinations. These ones almost feel like a personality test. Most of them involve Max helping others or choosing who to spend time with. Do you help out someone who hasn’t asked for it? Are you nice to someone who has been unpleasant to you? I feel like the game isn’t going to let those saying yes to everyone, do so without consequence. I was skeptical in the first episode about the ability to rewind your choices. I felt letting you see the immediate consequence of the action, ruined any sort of tension or impact the decision had. However, in this episode, there are several decisions where Max cannot rewind her actions, making you put down that controller and have a good think about what to do next.
Dontnod have clearly put a lot of effort into the little details and it’s worth your time paying attention to their work. Character’s rooms are rich with their personality and can tell you a lot about a character. Scattered around are small tidbits of information about them, that you wouldn’t know otherwise. Most of these require you going out of your way, as if you simply follow the story, you’ll miss the majority of them.
As the episode reaches its conclusion, it begins a tense series of events that’ll lead you to thinking very carefully about your actions. It’s a moment where all of the game’s strengths come into play. We see immediate reaction to our choices from this episode and are rewarded for how much you care for these characters. The story is beginning to take on some vague sinister undertones and looks to get darker in the next episode.
It is still awkwardly bouncing between the everyday teenage life and the supernatural elements which feel more like an excuse for the time control so far. Based on this episode alone, Life is Strange has really upped its game and I’m certainly looking forward to what happens to Max next.