As far as opening episodes go, Life is Strange 2 is a great start for the series. Moving away from Arcadia Bay and focusing on a new set of characters, DontNod Entertainment’s sequel is both powerful and well presented, setting up the series for what is sure to be an excellent adventure.
This time around Life is Strange 2 focuses on two brothers, Sean and Daniel Diaz, who are forced to run away from home after an incident involving the police. Sean also has to contend with his younger brother Daniel discovering he has a mysterious supernatural power, which seems to only appear under stressful circumstances.
Episode 1 is only the beginning of Life is Strange 2 and it shows. Things start off by introducing us to the characters and their current circumstances and the gameplay from there plays out in much the same way as the original game, giving you the option to look around your house and inspect various items, allowing you to build a picture of the lives Sean and Daniel lead, while also learning more about other people in their lives, such as Daniels best friend. You’ll also discover that the latter is quite the artist.
After wandering around his home and getting ready for a party, Daniel spots Sean outside having an argument with the bully and before you know it, things escalate and suddenly the boys find themselves on the run, heading deep into the wilderness where they must figure out their next move, all while trying to survive with little money and a lack of warm clothing.
I’m trying my very best not to spoil the story as this game, more than most, focuses on narrative ahead of gameplay. As you’ll soon discover, most of your time will be spent making decisions, which may or may not come back to haunt you. It’s not always easy to make the right choice, and depending on how you react, the outcome will change.
What’s interesting about the story is that the developer has focused on some quite important issues, such as the way minorities can be treated by those who are not as open-minded as most people. Given the boys are of Mexican descent, this sees one particular NPC make mention of ‘Building The Wall’ (between the U.S and Mexico as discussed so many times by Donald Trump), while also treating the boys in a not very nice fashion. To balance this out, both Sean and Daniel also meet someone who is only too willing to listen and lend a hand. Much like in real life, you’ll meet all manner of people, some worth giving your attention, while others are worthy of a wide berth.
When it comes to presentation, Life is Strange 2 looks pretty stunning. The art and animation are very impressive and the environments look very authentic. I read that developers Dontnod conducted field research on the West Coast of the United States, meeting people and taking pictures there, and it really shows. The large wooded areas, for instance, are well presented and seem to capture the natural feel you’d expect if you were there in person, all down to the berries on the trees and the wildlife, which you’ll often point out to Daniel and even interact with.
Life is Strange 2: Episode 1 is all about the story. You shouldn’t really come into this expecting an experience heavy on gameplay, because if you are then it won’t be for you. Episode 1: Roads is a tale of brotherhood and education, with both siblings supporting and growing from each other. This is only the beginning though and based on what’s come so far it’s only going to get a lot better.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*