Rather than following the Arcadia Bay sagas of Max Caulfield and Chloe Price from the earlier games, this sequel tells an all-new tale following two brothers named Sean and Daniel. Still set in the northwest, Sean and Daniel are forced to go on the run after a supernatural run-in with the law. The game retains its supernatural elements with Sean’s younger brother wielding some unexplainable, emotionally-driven powers.
What begins as a typical teen melodrama that Dontnod games have become known for quickly spirals out of control into a more unique coming of age story about brotherhood, sibling dynamics and learning to live on your own.
The first episode of episodic sagas are always tricky. These multi-part stories need to establish characters, and that’s what episode one is reserved for. “Life is Strange 2” is no different. It explains some backstory, establishes its cast and gameplay and the story unfolds from there. Episode one contains plenty of table setting for the four future episodes, so much so that it would have benefited by being edited. My playthrough of the episode clocked in at 2.5 hours. Those hours dragged a bit with some slow segments in the middle, but did enough to intrigue me about the future.
“Life is Strange 2” adds a few wrinkles to the gameplay that is still based around player choice, and cause and effect. Gone are the days of Max Caulfield’s time twisting powers. So far, older brother Sean is a bystander to Daniel’s powers. But, there are key interactions that can take place throughout the episode. Sean can mold Daniel with brotherly conversations that comfort him or make him afraid. The story is built around a brotherly bond, and that’s reflected in the choices.
There’s also a new money system in the game. Sean has a finite amount of money in the episode. That money can be spent on a wide variety of things that can affect the outcome of the story. There’s also the ability to steal goods, but that path comes with its consequences.
Episode one can be a slow burn at times, but it sets the tone for the rest of the series nicely. While not a continuation of its predecessor in any way, it stays true to the series while adding enough to make the formula feel engaging to the player. I’m looking forward to seeing where the new series goes.
8 out of 10