An Unbiased ‘Life Is Strange 2’ Game Review
Dontnod has made another socially aware, politically engaged video game for all who like compelling decision-making games. Here, we’ll give you a complete review of “Life Is Strange 2” that is worth reading.
‘Life Is Strange 2’ Game Review by Episodes
- Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Available on: Xbox, PC, PlayStation 4
- Release date: episode 1: September 2018, episode 2: January 2019, episode 3: May 2019
- Type: decision-making adventure game
Dontnod Entertainment created another decision-making game aimed mainly for teenagers. After the huge success “Life Is Strange 1” game had worldwide, Dontnod Entertainment decided to offer “Life Is Strange 2” video game that tackles equally important and controversial issues as the previous one but with some new intriguing characters and plot.
Most of the video games’ developers would never dare to include politics and controversial issues into their games. That is not the case with the creators of “Life Is Strange 2.” These people didn’t turn a blind eye to the burning political and social issues that bother many, especially teenagers. In the first part of this hugely successful game, the main characters try to raise social awareness about teenage depression, cyberbullying, and other major issues teenagers have to face mostly by themselves nowadays. “Life Is Strange 2” repeats the same successful concept of the previous part, only now, they went one step further and made a bold political statement by introducing new main characters.
This time, the story revolves around Latin American Diaz brothers and opinions of people they meet on their journey. They express a straightforward attitude about Donald Trump’s immigration policy. Three episodes of this socially aware, decision-making game have been released so far, and you can get to play it on your PC, PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. We have tried this game on the Xbox One since, in our opinion, it provides the most satisfying gameplay experience.
We are going to try to give an episode by episode review of “Life Is Strange 2” video game to provide you with the in-depth analysis of its characters’ development as they go through a life-changing adventure.
Episode One ‘Roads’
The heroes of this compelling saga are Diaz brothers that have already made a short appearance in the “Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit.” Sean Diaz, a sixteen-year-old boy, is a leading character in this video game, and you are going to take his role in the game.
Sean and his younger brother Daniel are forced to run from the law after a series of tragic events, and that is how their journey across America starts. Here, the big brother has to grow up quickly because he is the only one little David can lean on. The entire episode focuses on the brother-to-brother relationship, which is burdened with a serious lack of money.
As the episode unwinds, we see how deep Sean’s struggle is. He wants to be a good brother and make Daniel feel safe and loved, but at the same time, he has to act as a role model and make some tough decisions. Players decide which course the game will take by picking one of the options on the screen.
Political engagement best reflects in this “Life Is Strange 2” episode with lines like “Everything is politics” and “This is Seattle no more.” The creators clearly state that nothing will be the same in the dawn of Trump’s era.
Episode Two ‘Rules’
As episode one ends with the two brothers on the road again heading to Puerto Lobos, we expect to see new adventures and encounters on their road towards safety. Our hopes evaporate quickly because nothing especially interesting or gripping happens in the second part of the “Life Is Strange” game.
We have a throwback to the unfortunate events that turned Sean and Daniel Diaz into fugitives. The police killed their father. This deeply traumatizing event caused a peculiar reaction of Daniel’s mind and body, giving him an extraordinary telekinetic power. Unfortunately, Daniel cannot control this superpower efficiently, which resulted in murdering a police officer.
The entire episode deals with fear. Sean fears that this Daniel’s superpower will blow their cover and put their lives in danger. Thus the name “Rules.” “Hide your power” and “Run from danger” kind of suffocates all the action in the second episode of “Life Is Strange 2.” As fear creeps in deeper and deeper into Sean’s mind, the entire gameplay gets incredibly boring.
A psychological game that prevails in “Rules” requires minimum effort on the players’ behalf so you can easily leave your device and grab some snacks as you wait for your turn to make a move. We expected this lack of actual gameplay will be compensated for with some engaging puzzles that were included in the first episode. The only plus side of the dialogues that can become long-winded is that you will notice how superbly-written they are.
Episode Three ‘Wastelands’
Here, we find Sean and David settled with the hippy commune in California. This is not a sudden plot twist that comes out of nowhere because two characters that we see at the end of the second season play a significant part in Wastelands. Finn and Cassidy will definitely bring some new dynamics in the episode. The main idea that runs through the entire chapter is that Sean seems to be tired of acting as a father figure the entire time. This episode puts the brotherly relationship on a serious test with Sean falling in love with Cassidy, and David turning to easy-going Finn in a search for a new role model.
We have to say we missed the tension that the lack of money brought into the opening chapter of this video game. Players were faced with some difficult decisions due to the dire situation our heroes were in. Since Sean gets a job in this part of the game, there is nothing to start up some action here. Everything slows down, with long nights around the campfire, for example, or by the lake. We honestly miss the energy and movement that the original “Life Is Strange” had.
The Development of Main Characters Throughout the Game
We also cannot figure out the array of characters that appear in this episode, just to be there and fill in empty space. Besides Finn and Cassidy, none of them have a role in the plot or some memorable personality trait that was emphasized.
This move of “Life Is Strange” creators can be justified with the fact that the whole story revolves around the relationship between the brothers. Other characters come and go throughout all three episodes, but they never really enter Daniel and Sean’s world.
As one of the producers stressed, they wanted to make the complete season of “Life Is Strange” about education and self-growth. We first meet Sean, who is a typical, alienated, sulky teenager. He is into girls and music, and he despises human interaction which he fights against by putting his earphones and shutting down.
But when their whole world falls apart, he quickly realizes that he is the only one Daniel can rely on. He quickly steps into his father’s shoes, but this change is painful since the road to this transformation is full of difficult choices. We were amazed how relatable Sean’s character was and how he carried his burden of a father figure without twitching.
In the second act of this story, Sean becomes obsessed with fear for their lives and safety and tries to fight his fears by imposing a set of rules on Daniel. This way, Sean wants to further exercise his authority over his younger brother, who is starting to show first signs of rebellion. The scene where Sean uses his powers to save his playing buddy is maybe the strongest indicator that the tie between the brothers is under strain.
Episode three brings us the open-ended climax where everything falls apart again as the gap between the brothers becomes wider. The appearance of Finn and Cassidy brings in some needed dynamics into the whole story after a boring second episode.
Finn is an easy-going guy whose main motto “Go with the flow” is the total opposite of Daniel’s constant need to be in control. This Finn’s cool and relaxed attitude towards life is the main thing that makes Daniel turn to him as the new role model.
On the other hand, there is Cassidy — a mysterious girl, who sings by the fire. Sean falls for her, almost instantly, giving her his full time and attention. Being beside her makes him happy, and for the first time, he takes off the heavy burden of acting as a parent. He has mixed emotions about the entire situation. He feels relief and happiness after a long time. On the other hand, the fact that he neglects Daniel eats away at him.
The course of action in this episode leads to Daniel’s rebellion against Sean’s authority, which will lead to a series of wrong moves that escalate at the end of episode three.
Great Hits and Misses of ‘Life Is Strange 2’
- We commend the baldness to make another video game to raise social awareness about serious issues teenagers have to face nowadays. When you add an open political engagement to this, we can only say, “Keep up the good work.”
- The main characters are so beautifully crafted, and their relationship that changes gradually as they grow and change through different episodes is in the focus of this decision-making, educational video game.
- Writing is exquisite here in all episodes, but it reaches a peak in the first one where some strong attitudes against Trump’s immigration policy surface in dialogues.
- The second episode focuses mainly on the psychological aspect of the situation the brothers are in, and it lacks some real action. Simply put, it is boring.
- The complete season lacks some dynamics and movement. As this was supposed to be a road trip, we expected something else from what we got.
- Most of the other characters are just there like props without personalities or any influence on the course of events. Things get a bit better in the third episode, but that is not enough for this kind of video game.
Overall, we would highly recommend playing “Life Is Strange 2” if you’d like to take a walk in the shoes of a rebellious teenager who has to grow up fast. Everything here is in your hands because your decisions determine the course of the game.
If you can put aside an uneventful episode two of “Life Is Strange 2” game, you will enjoy superbly written dialogues that add up to the gameplay.
Go ahead, grab the controllers, and join the Diaz brothers on a life-changing journey in “Life Is Strange” on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.