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Life is Strange 2: Episode 1 'The Road'
Life is Strange 2: Episode 1 'The Road'

Genre: Adventure
Release Date:
September 2018
Life is Strange 2: Episode 1 'The Road' Review
Review By @ 03:14pm 10/10/18
Although it deals with supernatural elements in a realistic setting, like with the original, Life is Strange 2’s new characters and story deal heavily in themes of identity, racism, and belonging. It’s a product very much of its time, set in the U.S. prior to the 2016 election. The fear of immigrants and discrimination is not limited to America, but by focusing on this issue, Life is Strange 2 is without a doubt a political game. A cinematic story of two brothers on the run after a disastrous event involving a police officer killing an unarmed person – an immigrant. A tale and journey where guilt is assumed when encountering certain strangers, and the danger of not being discovered carries the additional weight of being detained without trial.

In telling a very human story, with relatable and empathetic characters in 16-year old Sean and 9-year old Daniel Diaz, Life is Strange 2 is not merely a politically-charged radical departure from the original. In fact, its themes help create a story that is quite unlike anything you’re likely to play this year. And the relationship between Sean and Daniel is filled with the sort of nuance and little touches that will feel universal to siblings the world over. From kicking your little brother out of your room for being too annoying, to indulging their wild imagination, to teaching them how to skip stones on a river bank. Compared to Life is Strange, this thread of relationship and bond is reminiscent to the friendship between Max and Chloe – albeit very different in terms of specific elements.

"Life is Strange 2 is not merely a politically-charged radical departure from the original. In fact, its themes help create a story that is quite unlike anything you’re likely to play this year."

In Life is Strange 2 we don’t get to experience or wander through the halls of a high-school, instead the story picks up with Sean preparing to attend a Halloween party at home. There aren’t any puzzles to solve, instead exploration flesh out the setting, story, and characters – with choices ranging from whether to steal some of your father’s beer to deciding on whether cookies or chips might be the right snack to, err, pack. It’s this setting, and the blend of regular day-to-day life that expertly paints a picture of Sean, Daniel, and their father living in suburban Seattle. Cynically one could correlate this approach with the impending racially and politically charged events and tragedy that follows as something there to reinforce a political stance – but that would be stretch. Because where Life is Strange 2 excels in its narrative ambition is with its empathy.

A word one might not associate with the world of videogames, but Life is Strange 2 is filled with empathy. Even the choices you get to make in this first episode don’t betray its humane approach to telling Sean and Daniel’s story. One that indeed features some supernatural goings on, but also one that adheres stringently to the idea that deep down we all have the capacity to be good. Even the villains, or antagonists, aren’t painted as one-note or simply evil for the sake of dramatic tension. From the police officer to the politically charged neighbour to the elderly owner of a gas station, they’re mostly underdeveloped as characters – but through well scripted sequences, dialogue, and cinematography that highlights Sean’s perspective it’s more a representation of a world gone mad as opposed to one full of villainy.

If there’s one detriment or negative one could place on Life is Strange 2 is that for the most part it’s narrative ambition far outweighs any attempt to expand or develop the narrative-driven, Telltale-like adventure game. This the most choose-your-own-adventure Life is Strange yet, with little in the way of being in direct control of a situation or mechanics that provide a tangible way in which to interact with the world. Exploration is here, but mostly used to add a bit of extra detail. It’s a meditative approach to non-linear exposition that works, but still feels a little lacking.

In the end though, Life is Strange 2 features a story that packs real emotional weight, and one that surprisingly deals with real-world issues in a way that feels like a milestone achievement in interactive storytelling. But, by that same token it is indeed more of an interactive piece of cinema than traditional game. Here’s hoping that the next few episodes provide real tangible ways to interact with the world, from puzzles, to traversal, to even some form of action.
What we liked
  • Wonderfully rich story
  • Protagonists Sean and Daniel Diaz feel real thanks to great writing
  • Deals with serious issues in an empathetic way
  • Great cinematography and production values from art direction to original score
What we didn't like
  • Game mechanics that deal with the relationship between Sean and Daniel feel a little under-cooked
  • More interactive movie than game
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 05:27pm 10/10/18
" with a...story that also deals with racism, immigration, and the current political climate."

Let me guess, they take the cool option and go anti-Trump like Hollywood and the rest of the media. Snore.
Posted 06:39pm 10/10/18
Uhuh.. the 'cool' option... Life is Strange 2 isn't tied to Trump-politics specifically nor is it anti-Trump in any sort of obvious way... it deals with serious issues as part of character-based story... which is why it feels different than other adventure games
Posted 08:56pm 10/10/18
"...the current political climate".

The only people who tie the "current political climate" to racism and immigration are the same people who think standing in traffic is "progressive". Maybe the game has nothing to do with it, I doubt it if your review seemed intent on mentioning it indirectly.
Posted 11:22pm 10/10/18
Not sure I quite understand the point. Regardless the game deals with these issues in a straight-forward way. I mention current political climate because this stuff is, well, part of current political discourse. Especially in the U.S.
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