Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4, XBOX One
Release Date: 27 September 2018
Episode one of Life is Strange 2, Roads, opens on familiar territory to its predecessors. Gone are the much-loved characters of previous iterations, but the heart and soul of the franchise remains. You play as Seán, a 16-year-old Mexican-American teenager navigating the world of high school; at least for the first ten minutes you do. As quick as the game takes to download, you are thrown from a peaceful life in suburban Seattle into the wilderness reflection of Trump’s USA.
[the] Dialogue tends to be so on the nose at times that it seems like there is no subtlety or nuance in its world.
Although it is interesting to see a game tackling such an intense political climate, this opening feels incredibly forced and extreme. A character echoes this extremity further down the line by explicitly stating, “you’re the reason we need to build that wall.” Famously, the Life is Strange franchise has been criticised for having some lumpy dialogue with excessive uses of strange (no pun intended) colloquialisms. The sequel dodges that slang bullet, but its dialogue tends to be so on the nose at times that it seems like there is no subtlety or nuance in its world.
It must also be noted that apart from a few cataclysmic moments, Life is Strange 2 has seemingly abandoned the series staple sci-fi elements. Gone are the powers of Max Caulfield rewinding time to complicate the game; every single choice, no matter how small or trivial it may seem, will have future consequences.
Wandering the country with your little brother, Daniel, introduces new game mechanics. Instead of rewinding time, or having snappy comebacks á la Chloe in Before the Storm, you can either ask Daniel to do something for you or experience moments with him. As mentioned before, every choice matters, and this is no more prevalent than with your little brother. If you choose to steal at a specific point in the game, Daniel decides that he will steal in the future. You aren’t just navigating through a world trying to save people anymore; you are effectively parenting.
Character movements and expressions are more emotive making the narrative more believable
Life is Strange’s signature art style remains, and graphically, the game boasts upgrades running on the Unreal Engine 4 as opposed to 3. Character movements and expressions are more emotive to make the narrative more believable, but are juxtaposed by unusual aforementioned dialogue choices. The white wisps of wind and panoramic forest-scapes are more beautiful than ever, and the atmosphere is heightened by franchise’s staple ambient guitar pickings.
For a four-hour length game, Life is Strange 2 presents a lot of replayability. Decisions won’t likely payoff until episode two, but with multiple save files you can be guaranteed to get hours of enjoyment from a low price pointed game.
In a nutshell: While the general atmosphere of Life is Strange is still present, the rushed opening and extreme dialogue sours an immensely entertaining and visually appealing game.