Name: Life is Strange 2 – Episode 1 – Roads
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Released: 27.09.2018
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Reviewed on: PC
Acquired: A copy of this game was provided by a publisher for review purpose

Let’s be honest here; I adore Life is Strange. I love The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. The universe Dontnod has created is simply right up my alley. At Gamescom I got to speak with Michel Koch and Jean-Luc Cano about Life is Strange 2, and I couldn’t wait to try it out. Now I have and let’s just say that my expectations were high, so could Life is Strange 2 keep up?

Story

The game starts out a bit awkward by talking a lot about condoms (safe sex is important)… But after a few quirky moments, the story got really into that same Life is Strange-feel we’ve all learned to love. Let’s start out with the info, though; Life is Strange 2 regards the story of Daniel and Sean Diaz, two Mexican American brothers who needs to flee Seattle after “an incident”. The main parts of the game revolve around their journey south, to Mexico.

So, the episode starts out before “the incident” (which I won’t say what is, obviously – however, I don’t think it will be a massive shock once you get to that point yourself). This part of the story is quite slow, I’ll admit. And the first half hour or so did not have me convinced. Then all the action started happening, and I finally got into the more story intense part of the game. And my word does Dontnod know how to develop gut-wrenching stories! I had to stop at least five times to wipe away tears flowing down my chin. Where the first game was sort of non-political, Life is Strange 2 gets right into a split United States, especially when it comes to non-caucasians. Let’s just say you’ll suffer some difficulties supporting Trump after this experience (if you somehow did that before).

Life is Strange 2 - (2)
Being a big brother is tough

The brotherly love between Sean and Daniel really shines through as well, and before long it’s hinted that one of them might have some powers. Although not a big part of this episode, I can’t wait to find out what will happen with the powers further on.
9/10

Graphics

I really like the style that Dontnod keeps with the Life is Strange series. It’s not realistic, but it has charm and almost a cozy feel to it. It sort of feels like a good memory, if that makes sense? Life is Strange 2 builds on that experience, now running more smoothly than its predecessors. The facial animations too are better than before, and the textures too has gotten an upgrade. In addition there’s the whole world building – the world around Sean and Daniel feels real and is believable, even though there are some supernatural powers at play. Most of all though is the amazing character design, it literally took me two scenes to fall in love with the Diaz’ brothers, and I immediately felt strongly about each and every character they met. Kudos Dontnod, kudos!
8/10

Gameplay

Already here I have a huge dilemma. The gameplay in Life is Strange 2 is technically very sound, it works as a charm and now you have more than two choices each time. What I don’t like though is the lack of time travel. Sure, Max (the main protagonist from Life is Strange) should be the only one to have those powers, as it’s a rare occurrence. However, I feel like without a mechanic like this, Life is Strange 2 becomes just another “choose your adventure”-game. Where as the first game let you choose something, see its short-term consequences and then rewind to check the other options, Life is Strange 2 only allows you one try. And often times I found myself disappointed with what Sean actually said when I chose something.

Life is Strange 2 - (4)
Brotherly love

Fortunately, the rest of the gameplay is really awesome. Your actions truly seem to have consequences, and each choice has to be thought through properly. Sure, it might seem like a good idea to steal a tent now, but later on that might come and bite your behind. All in all, I am pleased so far and hope the developers might add in some cool feature once the story progress.
8/10

Controls

One thing’s for sure, story-heavy games doesn’t need the most advanced controls. Fortunately, this is something Life is Strange 2 has learned. You don’t need the most buttons to get things done, and the little controlling there is feel precise and to the point. Sure, there are some things what could be better, for example, I occasionally got stuck navigating the world, but it happened so rarely that I never really got annoyed by it.

9/10

Replay Value

Now, it is a bit difficult to say how good the replay value is after just one episode. The long-term consequences of my actions are yet to be seen, but on the short-term basis I constantly felt like replaying the episode to see how Daniel would react differently. Obviously the game has a story to tell, so some things are bound to happen regardless of your choices, but all in all I must say this feels like a more solid game than for example Telltale’s The Walking Dead, at least when it comes to replay value.
9/10

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Overall
8.6/10
8.6/10
  • Story - 9/10
    9/10
  • Graphics - 8/10
    8/10
  • Gameplay - 8/10
    8/10
  • Controls - 9/10
    9/10
  • Replay Value - 9/10
    9/10
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Verdict

To sum up my feelings; I was a bit nervous when I first started the game, could Dontnod keep up the good storytelling from the original game? How does the game fit into the universe built up from the first game? Will your actions have more to say? I’m not entirely sure yet, as this is only the first of five episodes, but it’s a hella great start, that’s for sure, and I’m already counting the days until the next one!

Pros

  • Looks good
  • Great story
  • Seemingly more consequences
  • Good replay value

Cons

  • The start is a bit slow
  • I sort of miss some super-natural powers

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