I’ve just ended Episode One of Life is Strange 2 and I need to take a minute to process my thoughts while my imagination remains in the game tumbling over each narrative, considering every choice and angle. Had I made the right decisions?
My first introduction to this series was with Life Is Strange – Before The Storm earlier this year. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy an episodic graphic-adventure, I’d never played one for more than 20 minutes as my gaming “wheelhouse” usually gravitates to more progressive or creative game-play. I was also less sure I would relate to any of it being from a different country and generation. Curiosity got the better of me though as I endeavor to learn more about the culture of America and the beautiful country I now reside. Best decision ever!
By the end of my journey with Chloe Price I was fascinated at the depth of story-telling cloaked cleverly in subtle, yet expansive content compelling me to jump into The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit as soon as it became available. Again, I was enthralled at the way my imagination was coaxed to make decisions as the adult I actually am, while playing as a child. Hovering between dread and hope the entire time you cannot help but feel responsible for each character, each consequence. This is no different for Life is Strange 2 and this is our review.
You play as Sean Diaz, a 16 year old American born Mexican. Pretty quickly you come to know he’s just a typical teen looking for ways to get the girl of his dreams, naturally a little disgruntled at his responsibilities as an older brother to 9 year old Daniel with a party on his mind.Living in a modest home with his hardworking mechanic dad Esteban the start of this episode is drawn out making it unclear at first as to what this is all about and whether their is a diverse subject folks have come to appreciate about the Life Is Strange series.
Then the first major shock occurs and it becomes clear that the main (not exclusively) topic is about racism. Set in 2016 not long after the presidential debate between Trump and Clinton, Sean and Daniel are catapulted into a world that finds them crossing paths with possible unsavory characters who take offense to the young boys heritage. At the same time this game makes you question your own prejudice at certain times like when someone’s surfing interests on the internet seem unsavory. Life is Strange 2 flips the switch between subtle undertones to brutal overwhelm which is how hate can truly exist but keep in mind, the victims (Sean and Daniel) are children. Very talented children as we discover Daniel is a very special and Sean has musicality and artistry running through his veins with the world now resting on his shoulders as he gets them both to safety – wherever that might be.
DRAWN OUT AND DRAWING
Making different choices for Sean and Daniel range from eating berries that could be poisonous all the way up to how they will or won’t interact with others LiS2 may have felt even more cohesive had some of that drawn out time mentioned earlier been used at the store, hotel or camping. Actual game-play is also very scarce which was confusing at first but I get it, the story telling is worth our undivided attention.
Sean gets to offer us a new way of interacting with drawing challenges but I found them clunky to use and not that much fun while also breaking immersion as Sean is far too brooding, too much on his mind as he tries to lead them to safety to care about drawing right now. Their are also collectibles to collect and mini-scenes where they both interact with each other but that is it as far as actual game-play goes. I’d like to see more interaction in future as well as a better spread of pace between scenes but the ambiance, sound track and environmental artistry is so well done none of these lacking factors took away from enjoying the road of Episode One.
By the way, did you notice them in The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit? If you haven’t already do play that first before this one!
Note: A Playstation 4 code was provided by the developer for our review.