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cover-Life is Strange 2

Sunday, August 6, 2023 7:59:47 PM

Life is Strange 2 Review (A Harmless Cat)

Slow burning journey through life

Life is Strange 2 lives up to its title in a literal manner. It is a story about two brothers falling into and navigating a strange situation. Their escape story is an outer layer, covering the true meaning behind the word journey. It is a narrative about family, personal choice, morality and most importantly, brotherhood. The game rewards slow, and often enforces it. It is some of the non-mandatory interactions you come across that often give more than what the main path offers, should you have the patience to go over them. In fact, nothing in terms of gameplay here is unique or even remotely interesting. The spoils of your patience are intimate, mostly revolving around enrichment of characters you meet throughout your journey. Much like most games in the franchise, this one also holds a political statement. Topics like violence, social norms and racism are all touched upon and strongly presented.
The only unique thing here is the way our protagonist is selected. Unlike most games, you are not the one holding the power. Sean, the older of the two brothers, is mostly just a vessel. He does not have the real ability to make an impact on the world, it is the younger brother who holds power. The player's direct and indirect choices and decisions act as a role model for your brother. Sean is an educator and it is up to players to shape him as a good or bad one. This brotherhood "education" is the heart of the game and sometimes, for the sake of morality, a selfless choice has to be made. Sean is a vessel for physical impact on the world, impact that Daniel, his younger brother, can unleash if "educated" to do so. He is not a meaningless character at all. His own journey is something that is also explored in detail and many of the things he desires may have to be sacrificed in favor of his brotherly bond and morality.
Choices here are not a lot in quantity. Most of the game will progress in the form of cutscenes, which don't require any user input. Previous choices have consequences and sometimes there might not be anything that is required to click as the scene is already determined based on your actions in the past. Quality of choice is something else, it feels significant on a personal scale. Even some small side path choices can have an impact on your moral and brotherly trust.
Despite being predominantly a liner experience, Life is Strange 2 holds a lot of beauty. In the few places where you have more freedom to walk around you can discover simple things such as sitting on a log and having an intimate conversation, bringing out your sketchbook and documenting a moment of your journey or simply helping a friend by peeling potatoes. These zen moments are truly how the narrative is meant to be experienced. It presents a slowing of time, in an already slow game that has a purpose of showing you that despite the circumstances, life has beauty in it.
+ Slow burning narrative that enforces patience. The game is cautiously boring and expects you to take the time to slow down and take in its world. If you are here for anything else than the story, there is no point in playing. Nothing apart from it is important or interesting.
+ Heavy emphasis on characters and visual storytelling. Each episode new characters, locations and situations are introduced, having their own unique place in the brothers' journey.
+ Great art style and soundtrack. They are companion pieces and have artistic meaning.
+ Collectibles Mode - All games in the series have this feature, which basically allows you to collect any items you might have missed during normal playthrough. Here you can select each section that has items and skip cutscenes without any sort of impact on your overall save file. All games of this nature should have this feature.
- Something very minor but I did experience some graphical glitches while playing. Items were missing from characters' hands and some other small stuff. Nothing that should ruin your overall experience.
- Before playing Episode 2, you will be informed that for the best experience you should first play "The Adventures of Captain Spirit". It is a small free demo that you can download, which basically introduces you to Chris, who is a character you meet in Episode 2. While there is no problem playing the episode without the separate game first, it is a bit of extra backstory that adds depth to a few characters. It would have been better if it was presented in Life is Strange 2 and observed by the protagonist directly. It can be considered a nitpick but I don't like when some sort of content is held in an extra download. I don't really fault the developers that much though as the demo is completely free and not paywalled or anything.
- Politically correct media is not to my liking. There are some sections in this game that serve nothing to the overall story, they are placed purely to touch on popular ideologies.
Life is Strange 2 is the definition of a slow burn. The slower you take it, the sweeter the rewards will be. It is not a game for everybody and I can appreciate Dontnod for making it. They have managed to turn what has all the characteristics of a boring game into a journey that is quite unique and intimate. Despite including politically correct filler, the core of the story remains solid. If narrative and character-driven experiences are what you like, then this is one of the good ones.