I’m not ashamed to admit that every now and then I’ll stare at a cup with my hand stretched out, hoping to see it move or shake. Alas, my telekinetic ability is still latent, instead of my mind moving the cup, my girlfriend takes pity on me and hands it to me instead. But I assure you, one day I will get a grasp on my superhuman abilities and won’t ever have to get up off the couch to grab a soda or my candy ever again. Until that day comes the Life is Strange games will have to sate my cravings for superpowers.
I, like many other somewhat sane individuals, am a massive fan of the Life is Strange series. The original Life is Strange was one of the first games to make me openly sob while playing, so much so, that I still haven’t finished Before the Storm, despite having purchased it both digitally and physically. So you can imagine my proverbial wet dream when setting my eyes on Life is Strange 2 for the first time. I was somewhat hesitant when picking up Life is Strange 2 because of my love for the other entries in the series and how it might stack up to them. But by the end of episode 1, Dontnod put my hesitations to bed with a fantastic story of two young brothers trying to find a new place to call home.
Life is Strange 2 episode 1, aptly titled Roads, starts off like any other teenage rebellion story, with a young man gearing up to go to a party. But quickly the story evolves into one of prejudice and brotherly love. When a supernatural incident forces Sean and his younger brother Daniel to flee from their home, the two must learn how to survive on their own. You take control of the older brother Sean, and It’s your job to keep your younger brother Daniel well fed and safe. But it doesn’t stop there, similar to the other Life is Strange games you must also make large choices that will affect the outcome of the overall story. The best part about the choices you have to make is the fact that you’re Daniel’s role model. When you make the decision to steal something, even if for survival, Daniel will do the same. This small feature completely changed the game for me once I noticed it. It was no longer a game of me making choices that I think Sean would make, but instead a game of nurturing Daniel into a good person. That was only one of the amazing additions to Life is Strange 2 that easily sets it apart from the other games in the series, let alone the addition of real-world influences on the game.
It’s no secret that prejudice and racism still exist in our world, but not many games are willing to approach the topic; instead, it’s often avoided entirely, but that’s not the case in Life is Strange 2. Through the episode, the racial tension is quite obvious, yet it never feels tacked on, largely due to its great writing and voice acting. It’s easy including ties to the real world in your game, but it’s much harder making them believable. Many developers have tried and failed, but Dontnod really makes you love these characters, so when they’re singled out just because of the color of their skin it feels real. I absolutely love all the characters in Life is Strange 2, with the exception of the obvious few, and that’s not something I can usually say about a game.
My favorite part of Life is Strange 2, apart from the characters, is the soundtrack, which boasts some amazing songs from Phoenix and Bloc Party. The second the game began I knew I’d have to buy the physical copy as well once released, just to get the soundtrack. The physical releases of both Life is Strange and Before the Storm Included an awesome mix CD of the game’s soundtrack so it’s not a leap to say that this will as well.
The only issues I actually have with episode 1 are a few technical bugs that pulled me out of the experience. Several times throughout my playthrough I would turn around to see Daniel running in place, or a stick stuck to his character model. It’s really hard to enjoy a beautiful sunset when all you can see is a stick floating in mid-air. But that’s my one gripe with Life is Strange 2 so far and it’s a small one.