Life is Strange 2 focuses on two brothers; older brother Sean, 17, and younger brother Daniel, age 9 as they traverse a racially charged 2016 America, running away from home after a ‘supernatural’ incident
Life is Strange 2 follows the same trope as the original. It’s a choice based adventure where the choices that you make influence the story, the characters and the environment around you so that no two playthroughs are the same.
For me, this is a great episode. It starts out nervously, treading similar trails of ‘teen life’ that had been previously walked through by the original Life is Strange. A worry as I’d hoped that developers Dontnod would make a completely different story with new themes than what had already been set.
I was wrong to think this
After spending an hour going through the family home, picking up different objects all with their own stories behind them which are told through Sean’s perspective, completely absorbed me for over an hour. This is all optional and I love it. Players do not have to find out what Sean and his family do as their hobby but a little searching around the house and you’ll discover that they watch movies together and play games on Sundays. Little bits of information like this makes the home and world of Life is Strange 2 feel realistic and immersive. Being given the choice to discover is refreshing and finding out about different characters feels like a real discovery and gave me a sensation of being rewarded for investing my time learning more about the characters
After a tragic incident, Sean and his brother hit the road in hopes to escape and survive. This part of the episode builds on these characters relationship together. While I thought this part was set at a slow pace in comparison to the start of the game and did not achieving anything of real significance in terms of storyline progression, I did enjoy finding out more about the two brothers and strengthening the bond they have that will not doubt continue throughout the five episode series. Wholesome things like playing hide and seek brought a smile to my face as they could experience being a children, despite the adversities they face
Something that will not just follow you throughout the first episode but the whole season is the menu. In there you can find your inventory which is the items in your backpack, your phone with its message book and Sean’s notebook. All these elements of the menu change as you progress through the story. You’ll have new texts that come in and the descriptions of items in your bag will change dependant on the choices you have made.
What did bug me was the lip syncing. This is especially disappointing as this is an issue that also made an appearance in the original. Because I was so absorbed by the story, it was unnoticed for the most part. The noticeable parts sucked me out an immersion that the story did so well to envelop me into. It occasionally looks like an English dub of a Japanese cartoon.
The episode cruises along with a few other decisions to make. I made two decisions with my emotions toward the characters instead of logic. This was a great yet nervous feeling. I felt great as this told me that I am emotionally invested in these characters and care about what happens to them. However, because of these erratic decisions, I feel nervous of the consequences that these characters may face now in later episodes
The ending though… Wow. The synergy of music and dialogue as they eb blissfully between each other presents a real cathartic moment. It feels as though Dontnod know exactly what music to play and when, just as they did in the first game. Whether that be the calming acoustic guitar that plays during the main menu screen or jumping on the bed with your little brother with Bloc Party blasting in the background, the effects are profound and lasting.
This first episode glides through themes of racism in 2016 U.S, independence and brotherhood. It flows through these themes seamlessly and I am excited to see where they take it throughout the rest of the series
It stumbles a little but takes massive strides in introducing an engaging story of two brothers’ bond and the adversities they will have to face. I have already started making decisions out of my heart rather than my head. The music is phenomenal, and I only wish there was more of it. The end scene definitively ends a fantastic first episode and does not rely on cheap cliff-hangers to keep a player engaged. I am thrilled that I waited for all the episodes to come out rather than waiting as I don’t think I’d be able to handle the excitement I have to play the rest of this series
Life is Strange 2, Episode 1, is a 9/10.