The Life is Strange franchise has been a bit of a surprise hit for Dontnod Entertainment. The first episode of the franchise came out back in January 2015 and is now up to ten chapters (eleven if you count the epilogue chapter of Life is Strange: Before the Storm) spread across four titles. Life is Strange 2 is the newest title in the line-up and is off to a good start. Fans of choice-driven games should definitely take note of this launch.
Although this is the fourth entry in the series little has changed in terms of presentation despite moving to the Unreal 4 engine. Life is Strange 2 has a weird mixture of excellent subtle animation in small moments and then completely misses the ball on bigger pieces, most notably, facial animations. This is compounded by an impressive level of detail in textures – such as rust rings around cheap shower fixtures or hand smudges on mirrors – and then relatively bland character texture maps. This is a game that can look great, especially when the lighting engine is shown off, and other times makes you feel like you wandered into a lost valley.
Games of this nature live and die by their storytelling and acting, and in both areas, Life is Strange 2 is solid. The main focus is on the brothers Sean and Daniel Diaz as they trek through the wilds of Washington and Oregon after their suburban lives are upended suddenly. It reminds me a lot of the movie Grave of the Fireflies with Sean trying to keep the truth of the bleak reality they are in from his younger brother. Decent-to-excellent voice work from all the actors and actresses involved helps to move things along, and Sean’s actor, in particular, finds a good balance between his increasing desperation and his efforts to keep his brother’s spirits up.
Life is Strange 2 Review Final Thoughts:
If the choice-driven adventure genre is your thing then Life is Strange 2 is a no-brainer. With Telltale Games sadly folding up their shop this past week we can expect that releases in this genre will taper off a bit, and that means that good ones like Life is Strange 2 should be valued even more. However, you should always use caution when buying episodic games, and if you are not sure if this is a game for you then I’d encourage you to check out the free game The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, which should tie into this story at some point. Episode 1 clocks in at around two and a half hours, which is a solid start to the series. We’ve seen titles in the past lead with their long episodes and slowly shorten as they go, so we will have to wait to see how this one fares. Life is Strange 2: Episode 1 – Roads doesn’t end on the same kind of cliffhanger as other entries in the series, but I am still fully engaged with it. Episode 2 cannot come fast enough.