“Life is Strange 2 – Episode 1: Roads” Review
The original Life is Strange is a game that easily clicked for me because stories of teen angst have always been a guilty pleasure of mine. The game’s five episodes really set the story up to be the “Dawson’s Creek” or “The O.C.” as far as narrative video games went, and I enjoyed them immensely–up until the final choice of last episode, which made me hate the game in general.
The fact that it got this sort of reaction from me means the developers at Dontnod succeeded, and it was enough for me to pick up and enjoy the prequel series, Life is Strange: Before the Storm despite it being made by another developer in Deck Nine.
The much anticipated sequel is finally out, and I’m glad I gave it a chance.
What Is It?
Life is Strange 2 takes the same, simple point-and-click gameplay that the original game had but now follows new characters in Sean and Daniel Diaz, two brothers on the run from the police after being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
You take control of Sean, who was just a normal kid in high school before the unfortunate incident has him have to grow up early as he takes care of the much younger Daniel, who has absolutely no idea about why they left home or why they’re even trying to go to Mexico.
Why Should I Care?
I don’t want to go into more detail about how the Diaz brothers found themselves in the situation that they’re in because when it happened, I couldn’t help but have my jaw drop at the screen as the scene ran its course.
As serious as the events in the original Life is Strange were, and as authentic as the relationship between Max Caulfield and Chloe Price felt, you can’t help but feel like the themes in Life is Strange 2 are a lot more impactful. While the game’s nomination in the Games for Impact category in last year’s Game Awards raised some eyebrows mostly due to the fact that only one episode came out, it’s definitely deserving of its nomination.
Aside from the brotherhood, themes of racism and police brutality rear their ugly heads in here, but it doesn’t do it in such a way that seems forced disrespectful. It is worth noting, however, that the story has some political undertones as it infers that this all takes place during President Trump’s reign, but this is definitely not a detriment to the game’s storytelling. This is a story that feels like it needs to be told, even if it’s essentially science fiction. In fact, the diversity in this game’s cast has to be highlighted. Life is Strange 2 isn’t about being a student at a preppy art academy. It cuts deeper.
That said, there are times where the game feels a little slow especially in the beginning as you’re walking through the random forest just off the main road, but it’s necessary as it acts as a way to teach you how to play the game.
In typical episodic narrative style, the choices you make matter, and it feels different in Life is Strange 2 because now you have a younger brother watching your every move. The actions you take and the way you talk to people will influence your younger brother to do the same. There’ll come a time in this episode where you’re given the option to steal, and if you do, you bet Daniel is going to do something along those lines later, and of course it’ll lead to some repercussions along the way.
Still, the game is linear for the most part, but if you take your time and explore, you’ll come across a bunch of collectibles and sections in the game where Sean will have the need to draw (he’s an artist). To completionists and those who love exploration, this is where the game’s optional trophies and achievements are tied in, so it makes it all worth it. For those about that life, there’s also a Collection Mode that’ll allow you to go back and find these instances in the game in their effort to 100% or platinum the game.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
Roads eventually reaches an eye-popping conclusion when Daniel finds out why he and his brother are on their journey, and you can’t help but feel for the kids as you see it happening. On top of that, as things were in Life is Strange, there’s some supernatural stuff going on (and we’ll talk about that in our review of the next episode).
It’s the realization that all the Diaz brothers have are each other that really put it over the top, and if this first episode is any indication, we’re in for something “woke” when the rest of the story tells itself.
And no, you don’t need to have played a previous episode of Life is Strange to enjoy this first episode in this new season.
|Title:||Life is Strange 2 - Episode 1: Roads|
|Platform:||PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC|
|Release Date:||September 27, 2018|
|Editor's Note:||The game was purchased by the reviewer.|