You know, life really is quite strange when you think about it. All of us have made seemingly small decisions that ended up having life changing consequences, because that’s, ya know, life. And it’s the overall theme of Life is Strange 2.
Every choice you make is going to change the way the story is told and how the game is played, and that’s just as fun this time around.
The Butterfly Effect
Life is Strange 2 is an episodic graphic adventure game by Dontnod Entertainment (who recently released the very decent Vampyr) and the second story in the Life is Stange series, because that’s how numbers work. Very few of the characters from the previous game make an appearance this time around, but any decisions that you made in the first game still have a direct consequence now, assuming you have existing experience with the series. That was the first thing that I really liked about this game. Before you even got start it asked you if you had played the first game in the series. Very considerate.
Now, no spoilers. I’m going to be purposely vague on certain details of the plot and gameplay. Bear with me and I’ll do my best.
In this season, you play as Sean Diaz, a teenager traveling from his hometown of Seattle to Puerto Lobos, Mexico. Also in tow is his little brother, Daniel. So far, Sean is the only playable character in the game; it’ll be interesting to see if they add Daniel as a playable character in future episodes.
Danny See, Danny Do
Having Daniel tag along adds an interesting element to the game, because he learns behaviors from you as you go. Life is Strange has always had this Role Model dynamic as a part of its gameplay, but they’ve stepped it up a notch by giving you a young, impressionable child as a companion. Anyone who grew up with a sibling would be able to relate to this. I’m the youngest of my siblings, and can definitely think of a few times where I learned some… interesting things from the others.
As a side note, if my parents are reading this, please ignore that last sentence. We were wonderful children who never got into any mischief at all, and we totally never took that bottle of Midori from the liquor cabinet. You can trust me; can’t lie on the Internet .
But I digress. If you play in an aggressive fashion, Daniel will also start to act like that. Very early on, there’s an option to defend him or to take another person’s side in a fight. The choice that you make can affect Daniels willingness to trust you in later events. It may also make you look like a jerk, but hey, you do you; I’m a writer not a cop.
Shades of Grey
There is, interestingly, no definitive right or wrong choice to make in any aspect of the game. It’s about trying to take the possible outcomes into consideration, and make a decision based on that. For some areas, the game gives you a little bit of time to really think about what you want to do. Elsewhere, it’s a race against the clock. I’m not sure what would happen if you just let the timer run out, but you can bet I’m going to find out later. Life is Strange 2 is definitely a game that will require multiple playthroughs, if only to see what happens.
Life is Strange 2 is heavily narrative-driven, so if you’re not a fan of games with ridiculously long cut scenes and little action, this is not the game for you. I’m slightly ashamed that I had to reload the game for a couple of checkpoints because I zoned out. I missed a pretty important plot point checking Instagram, because I just couldn’t focus my attention on it. This doesn’t mean that the plot of the game is boring, it just means that people with a short attention span (like myself) will need to learn how to focus more, put up with restarting at certain save points, or accept that you’re basically going in blind.
Things do pick up as you go, but it is one of those games that has a bit of a slow start. If you can power through that, you’ll be sweet.
Surprisingly, Life is Strange 2 ran really well on my computer. There was no lag or crashing, and I didn’t have to alter any settings to get it to run smoothly. I’ve been saving for a decent gaming rig for a long time, and in the meantime every game is a risk. There was a bit of overheating on my poor overworked computer, but hey, that’s what fans are for.
All in all, Life is Strange 2 is beautifully made and very compelling. There are some difficult situations that you can’t just shoot your way out of. Sometimes more of a visual novel more than a game, but you shouldn’t let that deter you. I’m looking forward to what Episode 2 will bring.