The wait is over and we can finally jump back into the weird world that DontNod has crafted with Life Is Strange 2. It is not a continuation of the original story, but a completely different one just set in the same universe and timeline you made from the first title. It may sound a bit confusing if you have not been following along with everything for Life Is Strange 2, but that is why we are here. We are also here to play the game and let you know if it is worth your time and money. So sit back and get ready to get a feel for just what this game holds so far with our review of the first episode.
Our story here starts off with a nice little Mexican-American family living in Seattle, WA. Life is not-so-strange for them as Sean and Daniel are living mostly normal lives with their father. That is until a horrible tragedy pops up and forces the boys to go on the run. Not only that, but it looks as if one of them may have some kind of strange power on top of all of the horrors that have been dropped on them here. How will they deal with being on the run as well as the supernatural? I guess you will have to play to find out for certain.
Given some of the great episodic titles that have sprung up before Life Is Strange 2 was even confirmed as a title, I was expecting to have a bit more of an interesting gameplay experience mixed in with the story. That is how these things usually go and DontNod has had some time to try to perfect that and use ideas that are out there. So far in Life Is Strange 2, there has been nothing new added on that front. That is to say that this is a choose your own adventure story with a few collectible and mini-games mixed in. Nothing to write home about and one of them seemed to be placed in the game just to make choices harder along the way. It even lacks the fun of rewinding choices as we had in the first Life Is Strange due to the supernatural power shift as well as just seeming lack of want to do.
This also leads to the next big gripe I have about Life Is Strange 2. Some choices and action in the game are either forced or poorly highlighted that the game makes them, however, it chooses instead of how you want. The prior I will fault on the side of the story they are trying to tell requiring certain things. The other is a pure UI issue. When you have the timed dialog choices here, a small thought bubble with a red outline pops up. The same that pops up when there is no time limit to choose except that one is solid white. It does a horrible job at notifying you that you have only a few seconds to make the choice that by the time you realize it is there, the choice is being made for you. I missed out on a few of these as I was taking in what the game was giving me thinking I had time as the difference between the two was almost unnoticeable.
My final issue with Life Is Strange 2 here, at least so far, is that the voice acting to what is going on did not always seem to match up. That is, the character on screen did not always emote what was being said and expressed as well. One in particular scene that stands out is one that had the older brother finally venting to a friendly ear about what was going on in their life. You could hear the passion in the voice, but the character moved like a robot and made it seem as if it was all an act by the character. Something that was not the case in the game as the rest of the scene played out as one would have expected. I hope that the animation team for Life Is Strange 2 notes that and works to fix it so the talent is not just wasted.
Just as I assumed, one of the best things I have enjoyed in Life Is Strange 2 so far has been the story. At least after I made it past the opening scenes that were spoiled by Square Enix to help promote the game. Once I made it past there, I was able to see DontNod truly shine in telling the story they are crafting. One that has a lot of heart and also shows that they are also taking a look at the current state of the real world in the mix. This makes it all hit home that much harder. Even for one that does not share the background and upbringing that the characters here have had. Of course, this is something I had any doubt of not liking here as they have knocked it out of the park each time with their storytelling.
Another thing that they have improved upon is mixing in more exploration into the world of Life Is Strange 2. At least as much as you wish to do even though I found little extra gameplay to enjoy along the way. I was shocked to find out after my first play of the episode that there were other events and scenes I missed out on just by not going to specific parts of the map. How this will all affect the characters and story, I have no idea, but it has to add something more than a few extra minutes of runtime. Especially since some of them play into the end of episode stats that pop up. I rather enjoyed this as it made me want to replay the episode to see what I may have missed due to the choices and options I did eventually take.
At the end of the day, Life Is Strange 2 does not add much to the gameplay side of the franchise and genre as other games out there have. As I said, it is a choose your own adventure story where the action and adventure play out after you choose. That said, the story alone is worth taking the time to sit down and go through. It offers up some great looks at how society has shifted; not only in the game but also the real world. It will also have you questioning a few things you may believe along the way. All while still telling a heart-filled story and coming of age for two boys placed in the worst of situations. My recommendation is to give it a go if the basic story sounds like something you would enjoy. Given that the focus is the story, though, do not think that you will have much else to distract you from it if it is not the subject matter you will enjoy.
I give Life Is Strange 2 — Roads 5 Backpack Patches on the Backpack Patch scale.
Life Is Strange 2 — Launch Trailer
Life Is Strange 2 — Roads was developed by DontNod. Life Is Strange 2 — Roads was published by Square Enix for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC on September 27th 2018. A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes.