Life Is Strange 2 takes us out of Arcadia Bay and moves us to Seattle Washington during a time when gun violence, police brutality, and race issues have become all too common in everyday American life. Hostility is fueled by an impending election that ironically promises to make America great again.
Episode One of Life Is Strange 2 is entitled Roads, an allusion to the difficult journey ahead where decisions you make will directly affect the outcome of your story. As we said our goodbyes to Max and Chloe in the bonus episode of Before The Storm, we are introduced to an all-new cast of characters featuring the Diaz family.
DONTNOD Entertainment once again uses the trials and tribulations of teenage angst to provide the emotionally charged setting of the human experience. The game opens in a typical day in the life of sixteen-year-old Sean Diaz who is awkwardly and nervously discussing his crush on a girl named Jenn with his best friend Lyla, and their excitement for the party they will be attending later in the evening.
Sean’s dad Esteban is a Mexican immigrant who owns an automobile shop and specializes in fixing classic cars, who would do anything for his family including ordering sushi for the boys despite the fact that he dislikes it. His little brother Daniel is an imaginative, and enthusiastic nine-year-old that often cramps his older brother’s style. As of yet, we don’t know where their mother is but the few references Sean makes about her suggest that she might have abandoned them.
The first part of Life Is Strange 2 plays out similar to the bonus episode of Before The Storm; it’s more of an introduction to the main characters which involves point and click exploration of the Diaz home. It doesn’t take long to fall for these characters, they aren’t perfect, but they love and respect one another even if they don’t always show it.
While Sean and Lyla talk on Skype Daniel interrupts to show off his Halloween costume, Zomboy, complete with fake blood made of corn syrup and red food dye. Little do the boys know, but that fake blood is about to forever change their lives and set off the tragic events that are at the heart of the Life Is Strange 2 story.
Welcome To Trump’s America
Daniel has spilled some of the fake zomboy blood on the unpleasant and racist neighbor Brett that we were briefly introduced to at the beginning. Sean comes to his little brother’s rescue, a fight breaks out, and the cops are called. Things escalate, and the arriving police officer automatically assumes the Diaz brothers are at fault, and as Esteban rushes to save his sons the cop fatally shoots him, an unarmed man in his neighborhood.
After briefly being knocked unconscious by an explosion or something that has killed the police officer, Shawn wakes just in time to get he and Daniel out of there before more cops show up. The two are now fugitives on the run and head out towards the trails of Mount Rainier National Park in search of a quiet place to hide.
Daniel doesn’t remember events after the altercation with Brett and is unaware of the fact his father has died. As Sean is trying to figure out what they should do, a touching story of brotherhood emerges as the older sibling does all he can to let Daniel hold on to childhood innocence for a little longer.
Along the way, the boys encounter both the worst and best of the human race. This includes an old racist that tells Shawn he’s the reason we need the wall, to a wandering stranger who’s kindness helps them escape from the former, puts them up in a motel, and gives them what little cash and supplies he has.
Despite All My Rage, I’m Still Just A Rat In A Cage
It’s at the Three Seals motel where Daniel will find out about the death of his father, and we will find out that the explosion wasn’t an explosion but rather Daniel’s rage which appears to have telekinesis powers that he can’t control.
Life Is Strange 2 continues DONTNOD’s excellent dialogue, character development, and storytelling the series became known for. Gameplay is much the same as the other games but seems to be a bit more polished. Once again the music is provided by Jonathan Morali and indie bands like Phoenix, the music of Life Is Strange is practically a character itself. The voice acting is almost perfect, especially that of the main character which is provided by Gonzalo Martin.
It’s early and possible that any given episode can make a wrong turn, but I can find very little wrong with Roads. I did prefer Max’s camera to Sean’s sketchbook, but that’s hardly a game breaker. I guess my biggest problem is the wait. Admittedly, I’ve played previous installments of Life Is Strange and every other episodic game once all episodes have been released, patience isn’t my strong point. Now I sit here watching the credits like a mad Gollum crying for my precious second episode of Life Is Strange 2.
Life Is Strange 2 Episode 1: Roads from DONTNOD Entertainment is available now for PS4, PC and Xbox One.
Review code supplied by the publisher.