Life Is Strange 2 Review

January 10, 2020

Life Is Strange was something of a revelation when it came out in 2015. It took the formula used by Telltale Games in the likes of The Walking Dead and added to it. The game introduced new gameplay mechanics while there was a bigger emphasis on the story and character development. So, when the team announced Life Is Strange 2, a lot of people got very excited. Living up to such a well-received game is no easy task though.

With Life Is Strange 2: Collector’s Edition set to release on February 4, let’s take a look back at the game.

Story

The narrative in Life Is Strange 2 is a completely new world, taking place in a different location with fresh characters. Replacing Max and Chloe are two brothers called Sean and Daniel Diaz. Forced to flee their home, the two travel across the United States as they try to reach Mexico.

Leading up to this was a tragic confrontation with police that led to their father being shot and killed. Nine-year-old Daniel then uses a telekinetic power that knocks everyone unconscious. When they wake up, the older Sean sees the dead police officer and panics. So begins a cross-country journey with the brothers evading capture.

Moving away from Arcadia Bay has allowed Life Is Strange 2 to tackle contemporary topics. The setting from the previous game restrained the story, isolating the characters in their own little town. As Sean and Daniel move around the United States, they encounter all kinds of people and situations. The developers are even prepared to get political, as the protagonists deal with racism and inequality.

While it can be depressing to see the negative world views of many people, the game fights against them. The message in Life Is Strange 2 is that every individual is a unique person. We should celebrate the differences between us rather than attack them.

As was the case in its predecessor, what makes this game shine is the relationships between characters. You’ll meet compelling individuals throughout the campaign. Of course, the bond between the two brothers is what drives everything. Watching the dynamic between them shift as the plot advances is special.

Gameplay

For the most part, Life Is Strange 2 follows the same formula laid down by the first game in the series. In the graphic adventure game, players take control of Sean Diaz, the 16-year-old boy who has to look after his younger brother. The main bulk of the gameplay involves exploring the environments, manipulating objects, and having conversations with other characters.

One of the key components of the first game was the time travel mechanic that the player could use to rewind events. This time around, the supernatural power is a telekinetic ability. In a strange twist, you don’t directly have control over the power. That’s because it is Daniel who has telekinesis rather than Sean.

This shift opens up new gameplay opportunities. Sophisticated A.I. ensures it feels like you are playing with a partner rather than a computer. You can nudge your younger brother to resolve physical puzzles, which often means moving objects around with his mind. One benefit of this simplified model means you can focus more on the story and characters. Without needing to manage their powers, players can take more in and enjoy the journey.

Presentation

Everything about the presentation in Life Is Strange 2 is of high quality. For a game that focuses so much on story and dialogue, great voice acting is an absolute must. Fortunately, the performance of the characters is exceptional across the board. Even when the script gets a bit cringe-worthy, the emotion in the deliveries conveys a sense of gravitas. On top of this is an understated and subtle musical score. It works with the onscreen action, adding depth to everything you see and do.

Meanwhile, the visuals are equally as impressive. There’s a much greater variety in the environments on show and each of them is a treat to explore. The almost watercolor style works well while characters have enough detail and complex animation to be expressive. At times, the cinematography even makes it appear as if you are watching a movie, with sweeping camera angles. As an overall package, Life Is Strange 2 looks much better than almost any other graphic adventure game.

Final Verdict

All in all, Life Is Strange 2 carries on the traditions from the first game with grace. It has one of the best stories you will see in a recent video game. As a deeply emotional experience, it will make you feel happy but also has lows that will leave you subdued. Every choice has a genuine impact on the world, giving meaning to each decision you make. Perhaps as important, though, is the smart changes in gameplay to keep things fresh and exciting.

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