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Life Is Strange 2: Episode 1 – Roads

Posted by GG Goblin On October - 10 - 2018

Meet Sean and Daniel Diaz.

 
The hugely anticipated Life is Strange 2 finally is finally available, with the first episode titled “Roads”. Many players may shed a tear at the idea of leaving Max and Chloe behind, and be worried about setting off on a new narrative adventure with new lead characters. But worry not, because DONTNOD are back and working their magic, and while this may only be the first episode in this episodic adventure, for a beginning, it’s looking pretty good.

 
lis21 (Copy)

 
This is the real difficulty with episodic games. I remember starting up the original Life is Strange at least a couple of times before I finally invested, and as I had waited until all of the episodes were out, I was able to play them all across the course of a week, kind of like binge watching a TV show. But right now, we only have one episode of Life is Strange 2 to play with, and in that short amount of play time the developers will have to pull the gamer in and make them feel for the main characters enough to want to come back for the next episode and continue. It’s a tough gig, but DONTNOD have been there before, and seem to have a formula that works.

 
For Life is Strange 2, players will be following two brothers. Sean Diaz is your typical, but perhaps unusually sensible most of the time, 16 year old boy. He appears to be having quite  good life, living with his father and getting up to the sort of things that teenage boys do. He’s got a party coming up, there is a girl that he is interested in, and his best friend has given him a checklist of things to gather for the big night. Sean is quite likeable, and relatable, which is what matters most.

 
Less likeable is his irritating little brother Daniel. He is only 10 years old, but damn he can be whingey. Still, he’s allowed and Sean pretty much has to put up with it because he is the older, responsible brother. These are the two characters that the player will be following in the game.

 
When it comes to the gameplay, the first chance that players really get let loose with the character of Sean, aside from a few simple choices, is when he gets home and has to start preparing for the party. There are a few more choices to make here and there as Sean searches the house for the items on his list, such as how honest to be with the dad about what will be going on at the party. As is always the case with choices in Life is Strange, players can be certain that most of them will come back to haunt the player at some point down the line. In this first episode, many of the repercussions from choices have not materialised, but there are still a few moments when playing that the player will be able to see something that has resulted from something they chose to do. The developers do an amazing job of intertwining choice and consequence into the core gameplay.

 
lis22 (Copy)

 
Anyway, back to the party preparations. As it happens to be Halloween, Daniel has his own project going on, which basically means concocting some kind of zombie blood. It’s not long before Daniel appears to causing some trouble with a neighbourhood kid, and Sean has to go and sort it out. This is when everything falls apart in a truly devastating way. It is also where I have to stop describing what is going on, because players need to follow this through for themselves. It is pretty emotional, and a great set up for the ongoing story that develops the relationship between the two brothers.

 
The opening of the game gives a different point of view glimpse of the pivotal moment in Sean and Daniel’s story. It also gives us a glimpse of the token supernatural power for Life is Strange 2. This time around, time manipulation is out of the window, replaced with some kind of matter manipulation, and it is Daniel that has this power rather than Sean. Not much is made of this power in episode 1, with it only being used a couple of times. But by the end, the power seems to be out in the open, and a teaser for episode 2 seems to suggest that we will get to see more. The supernatural power in the first game was an important tool for the gameplay, and I am hoping that the developers will follow suit here.

 
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the political undertones in Life is Strange 2. I avoid politics as best I can, but the racial profiling in the game is quite in your face. It makes a statement, and probably one that some people will disagree with. The point is, it is there and difficult to miss.

 
So, we have choices to make, some minor exploration and searching, and a secret power that is not fully explained. Sean is also a talented artist and can occasionally pop out his notebook and produce some fine sketches. As always, the game is beautiful and the combination of gameplay sequences and cut scenes works really well to build a compelling narrative. There are times when the pacing suffers a little, but it is easy to forgive.

 
lis23 (Copy)

 
It feels good to be back in the embrace of DONTNOD’s teen drama and supernatural goings on with relatable characters and a beautiful setting. Obviously it is too early to judge the overall quality of the full story here, with just the first episode. But as it concluded, I found myself wanting more, which is the true mark of success. Now the wait begins for episode 2.

 

 ★★★★★★★★★☆ 



 

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