As a huge fan of the Life is Strange series, for some reason I found it difficult to start Life is Strange 2. While I’ve been insanely excited to play the game, there was just something holding me back from diving right in. Once I began Episode 1, I found it harder to get into than previous entries into the game. But I wasn’t sure why.
Maybe because I’d grown so fond of the characters in Arcadia Bay. I didn’t have any problems diving right into Life is Strange: Before the Storm, however, I also had little trouble getting into The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. So what was it about Life is Strange 2 that stopped me from really getting so engrossed with the story? Maybe it’s because of my inability to relate to brothers, Sean and Daniel Diaz – or something else?
In Life is Strange 2, the story revolves around the Diaz brothers who, after a freak accident in their home in south Seattle, go on the run to their father’s hometown in Mexico. During their time on the lamb, there is plenty of brotherly bonding, with Sean – the older brother – being responsible for Daniel, his younger sibling, and having to teach him about surviving while “camping” but also trying to swallow his own feelings following the trauma from back home.
Around an hour into the game, I’ll admit, I wasn’t as engrossed in the story as I was with the first season and I thought initially it’s because, as an only child, I didn’t really resonate with story’s brotherly bonding. This was proven when, as Sean, I just continued walking down the trail despite Daniel clearly struggling to climb over a fallen tree and eventually falling and hurting himself. I felt bad about doing this and learned to hang back and help him out when climbing down quite a high part of the pathway.
As the episode drew on and I started to quickly realize why I struggled to get into the first episode, and while I still didn’t quite feel as attached to the characters as I did with the first, It was more due to the feeling of discomfort I experienced from the Diaz brothers’ story which – to be frank – is a stark reflection on real life in America right now.
It’s no secret that since Trump was elected President of the United States of America that the country has become divided, and in Life is Strange 2 that divide is present from almost the very beginning and is only heightened as the game progresses. To save from spoilers, all I’ll say is that the Diaz brothers come victim to racial slurs and stereotype a few times in the game.
This feeling of discomfort doesn’t just come across as someone experiencing the game, but also it makes you hesitant to do certain things within the game as there’s this fear in the back of your head that too much noise, or making too much of a scene is just going to cause someone to come along and spew insults or judgment your way.
While I’ve mostly spoken about this feeling of discomfort in a way that makes it seem like I disliked the first episode, I’d like to actually commend DONTNOD Entertainment for being able to envoke this feeling in me helping me understand just a smidge how it might feel for a large majority of people in the United States right now who are battling with xenophobia, bigotry, stereotypes, and much more.
As for the story, Life is Strange 2 so far feels like a bit of a slow burner. While the episode didn’t feel too drawn out, I did play it in two parts, which says a lot considering I usually manage to smash through an episode in a single playthrough. Life is Strange 2, at least for me, doesn’t offer the same charm as the first. Though the game still evokes those jaw-dropping moments.
Much like the first game, there is a focus on a supernatural power, in this game it’s telekinesis. Something we experience a couple of times throughout Episode 1, but it isn’t made obvious until the very end. Even then, you’re incapable of controlling this power right now. I am curious to see how DONTNOD intend to bring this mechanic into the game, and how with two characters, this will intertwine in the game’s narrative.
One thing that strikes me as odd is how The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit folds into this story. Not necessarily the story of Chris, but the game’s mechanics, specifically encouraging players to play through sections multiple times in order to unlock or discover new things. Episode 1 does feel very much like an episode of Life is Strange, but I currently fail to see how some of the mechanics from Captain Spirit fold into this game.
I’d like to say I expected more from Life is Strange 2 in this first episode, I mean, I’ve been looking forward to it for some time, and I don’t want to say I’m disappointed, but I didn’t come away eagerly awaiting for the second episode. Am I excited for it? You bet. But is it the same “I WANT MORE!” feeling I got from the first? Not yet.
With this being the first episode I know we’re just scratching the surface of what Life is Strange 2 has to offer, especially in terms of bringing that supernatural power into the mix, so I’ll wait with bated breath for the next episode.