Life is Strange 2 is finally here, and I couldn’t be more excited for this sequel developed by DONTNOD Entertainment for Square Enix.
With the release of the first episode of 5 currently available, I have always been infatuated with how the highly popular, Life is Strange universe was going to develop, whether it be it’s predecessor ‘Life is Strange’, the prequel ‘Life is Strange: Before The Storm’ or the spin off tale ‘The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit’. This third person, interactive, story adventure will daintily pull you in by your hand but then will submerge you head first into their little world.
This time round Episode 1 entitled ‘The Road’ opens with our protagonists and completely new cast, Sean and Daniel Diaz, who live what appears to be an ordinary life with their single father in Seattle. Funny how looks can be deceiving, as this ‘ordinary’ family is about to have their whole world rocked by a few simple choices. The butterfly effect is real and now on the run Sean and Daniel have decided to roam the country trying to make their way back to their home country of Mexico. Each of the 5 episodes will continue their harrowing journey as Sean makes real decisions that may or may not influence the emotional development of his younger sibling.
You take control of Sean, who can interact with items, look at them, use them or even collect them to use at a later time to solve a problem. He is equipped with a backpack that acts as the in game menu, with text messages and diary entries supporting the content of the story, an inventory and to remind you of current objectives. This game weighs heavily on the decisions you make and relies on conversations to fuel the direction your story will take. Dialogue choices set of chain reactions along a dialogue tree, and while at times the over use of angsty teenage lingo can be laughable and cringe inducing it general keeps you captivated about which way it will turn.
The game is very much about continuing on the story you have created for yourself as it even asks you at the commencement what your final outcome was in the original Life is Strange, as to the fate of our beloved but grossly, teen, over populated, Arcadia Bay. Even choices made in Captain Spirit has irreversible effects on Daniel’s behavior as time goes on which is a real cool way to have the audience fully invested.
Life is strange has never been shy of addressing issues despite it being wrapped in some cringe worthy teenage rubbish at times, and this game is no different. Opening up with a single Mexican father, really highlights the hardships of family life, the balances and sacrifices, all the while bring up the issue of racial discrimination as they deal with the negative stigmas they endure from their surrounding community. Even gun violence and police brutality is very subtly touched on, making the Life Is Strange series an advocate for highlighting things that need to noticed but without thrusting it in your face.
Graphically, as I expected it had the same bright, dream like appearance that all the other titles have had. The Unreal Engine 4 really shines through with what I felt were upgraded animations except Daniel who at times appeared a bit gaudy, pretty dynamic shadings and much like an oil painting picturesque landscapes and environments. Each cinematic is pure quality with transitioning into play time almost seamless. It is definitely visually appealing down to every detail of every plant in the woods and even their own family home that has every design element to make it feel lived in.
Right off the bat, the game had me hooked in with the power of music. When popular indie band Phoenix’s track ‘Lisztomania’ came on during the opening of the game with its upbeat vibes, it was a very stark contrast to the dramatic scene playing out in the background. This is something I can’t fault with the Life is Strange games, despite the music all being pretty underground bands, each track is meticulously chosen to suit each mood. Music has always been a key part of telling their stories, its effective and oh so immersive.
Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with this first episode as I found most of the others started slow and didn’t get their wind till at least the second episode. This is certainly not the case here. Straight away you are sucked into Sean and Daniel’s world and their hardships. The game looks gorgeous and the music is even better. New fans should not be deterred as you can easily pick this up as a standalone, but old fans will be excited for how this one will connect with the others. I can’t wait to see what episode 2 has in store.
- Beautiful graphics
- Outstanding indie soundtrack
- Too many clique hipster undertones to fill one game