Game Review: Life Is Strange 2

Life Is Strange 2 is a remarkable sequel that is not only visually beautiful with an amazing soundtrack, but also tells a compelling narrative about two brothers. The game was recently released on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One and after playing “Episode 1: Roads,” I was not disappointed. The first Life Is Strange was released back in 2015, and although it’s divided in certain aspects by critics, fans couldn’t wait to see what would come next in this franchise by Dontnod Entertainment.

What’s interesting about Life Is Strange 2 is that you don’t need any of the context from the first Life Is Strange in order to play it. The second installment is a completely different story in the same universe as the previous game, but it still has the same charm and atmosphere of the first that old fans can appreciate.

 Image from Variety.com

Image from Variety.com

In the game, you play as Sean Diaz, a Hispanic teenager living in Seattle, Washington with his younger brother and dad, and he only has one year of high school left. The games opens with the slice-of-life atmosphere that will remind fans of the first game. You and your best friend, Layla, get off the bus excitedly talking about tonight’s party as you both smoke on your dad’s porch. You talk about whether you’ll still be friends once college rolls around; this is a conversation many of us have probably had.

Life Is Strange 2 is a story-driven, narrative adventure where the choices you make affect the game, story, and other characters. What I think DontNod does best is fleshing out locations with detail and life, so that each location feels lived-in and real. The game console your family plays, the poster on your wall from the concert you went to, and the skis in the basement from your family skiing trip - everything has a story behind it. You can interact with pretty much any object in the house and get a bit of insight on it or your family. You can even go through your phone and read past conversations with your friends or dad.

Life Is Strange 2 is especially detailed with its character writing, as my favorite moment so far has been an interaction I had with Sean’s dad, where you can feel him being a real parental figure reminding you to be safe and smart, but still respects you enough to give you the freedom to make your own choices. I’d say more, but I’d rather not spoil such a story-driven game.

Sean’s brother, David, is also well-written and charming. A bundle of energy with a love of Minecraft and candy, David is naive and a bit of brat, but so was I as a kid. Meanwhile, Sean is more distant and awkward, as he has more trouble texting the girl he likes than passing his classes. This makes their brotherly dynamic very relatable and familiar to any player who has siblings. There’s plenty of bickering and arguing between the two, but you can tell that at the end of the day, these two brothers still love each other.

Still, it’s impressive seeing a French video game studio properly capture the political climate of America in just the smallest details of character dialogue, in-game text messages, and more. You’re reminded of what it’s like to be a Mexican-American in modern America and the fear and resentment that you face in just trying to live your life.

The game is divided into five episodes, with the first episode, “Roads,” already out. Playing it on a PS4, I didn’t find it glitchy or having any lag, but it’s also available on Xbox One and Windows through Stream. The upcoming episodes haven’t been given a release date yet, but I don’t think we’ll have to wait too long for the next part of this suspenseful story. If you’re interested in a game with a compelling narrative, likable characters, and beautiful scenery and music, this is the game for you.

Lee RussoComment