Following on from the events of episode one, it sees Max further trying to get to grips with her newfound power, now with the help of her rekindled friendship with Chloe. As the episode progresses it appears to show that the constant use of time manipulation may be starting to take its toll on the body and mind of Max.
Everything I loved about the first episode is thankfully present. The indie movie aesthetic is here, complete with excellent music choices and art style, and the continuing story of Max is an interesting one.
However, what I hated also makes a most unwelcome return. I’ve come to the conclusion that my main issue with the time travel mechanic (that it doesn’t make sense if you stop and think about it) will never change. As I already said in the previous episode’s review, if you hold LT then time rewinds around you with the exception of Max who stops in a stationary place, something that the game plays fast and loose with. Though in the games defense the puzzles rely on it working this way, as with each rewind, items you collect stay with you.
The other issue being the faux-teen dialogue and lip syncing. It reminded me of Juno, a movie I despise with a passion, it so desperately wanting to capture that snappy Joss Whedon feel, but fails quite badly. When certain characters are talking normally (usually the adults) it’s fine, but when the teenage characters are interacting (Chloe and the school bullies being prime examples) it becomes cringe inducing in a lot of areas.
But, and it’s a massive but, after recently playing Tales of the Borderlands, this game has one thing going for it, actual gameplay. A little harsh maybe, but I feel like in these two episodes I’ve controlled the main character more than the entirety of The Walking Dead Season Two. During the initial scene you get to walk around your dorm, interact with other characters, and if you so choose, use your time travel powers to save someone from getting hit in the head with toilet paper.
And this is the first area, there are a few other places you’ll end up. And if you so choose you can walk around, interact with everything around you and soak in the sights before triggering the next story beat. And when the story moments are triggered, be prepared to make some tough decisions.
Honestly until the game’s, quite incredible, conclusion I had no idea there were so many choices that I unwittingly made along the way. Some events I completely missed, though whether these will play much of an impact on the story unfolding is unknown at this point.
There’s one slight gameplay blemish where you’re forced to walk around and hunt for some bottles to use as target practice, an unnecessary diversion that reeks of extending the games playtime. But other than that, in a world where these types of games are putting storytelling ahead of gameplay, it’s great that something has managed to hit the right balance between both.
It’s hard to go into too much detail with these types of games, but the ending is one of the most impactful I’ve yet encountered with these episodic games. So good in fact that it was this huge moment where something clicked in my brain and I was able to forgive all the games faults. And like all good “choice driven” games, although you can rewind time and select the other options, nothing is ever black and white. It makes each choice matter and you will be staring at the choices for a long time before selection.
To use a television analogy, if episode one was the pilot, then episode two is the second season. A shaky beginning giving way to a great follow up as it finally gets to grips with its mechanics and characters. I have no idea where the story will go from here, and that’s what makes it all so exciting.