Life Is Strange 2

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Life Is Strange 2
Life Is Strange 2 cover.jpg
Developer(s)Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher(s)Square Enix
Director(s)
  • Michel Koch
  • Raoul Barbet
Writer(s)
  • Christian Divine
  • Jean-Luc Cano
Composer(s)Jonathan Morali
EngineUnreal Engine 4
Platform(s)
Release
  • Episode 1
  • 27 September 2018
  • Episode 2
  • 24 January 2019
  • Episode 3
  • 9 May 2019
  • Episode 4
  • 22 August 2019
  • Episode 5
  • 3 December 2019
  • Linux, macOS
  • 2019
Genre(s)Graphic adventure
Mode(s)Single-player

Life Is Strange 2 is an episodic graphic adventure video game developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Square Enix. It is the second main entry of the Life Is Strange series. The first episode was released on 27 September 2018 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, episode two released on 24 January 2019 along with a live action trailer, and episode 3 released on 9 May 2019.[1] Episodes from the series will be released for macOS and Linux by Feral Interactive in 2019.

Gameplay[edit]

The decision-making mechanic showing two actions, each with an outcome that is essential.

Life Is Strange 2 is a graphic adventure played from a third-person view. The player takes control of Sean Diaz, who is on the run from the police with his younger brother Daniel. Sean can interact with the environment, obtain objects, and talk with non-player characters via dialogue trees.[2] Decisions that were made in the game demo The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit will carry over into Life Is Strange 2.[3] Captain Spirit was reintroduced in the second episode.[4] Choices in Life Is Strange 2 will lead to different branches in the storyline and affect Daniel's behaviour.[5][6]

Plot[edit]

Three years after the events of Life Is Strange, 16-year-old Sean Diaz witnesses his 9-year-old brother Daniel being harassed by their neighbour Brett Foster in Seattle, Washington, and intervenes. Brett is injured just as a police officer arrives on the scene. The officer draws his gun, and in the confusion Sean and Daniel's father Esteban is accidentally shot and killed as a sudden explosion destroys the street. Sean flees with Daniel as more police arrive. Now fugitives, Sean leads Daniel out of Washington on a journey to Puerto Lobos in Mexico, their father's hometown,[7] while hiding their father's death from Daniel.

After spending a night in the woods outside Oregon, the brothers stop are recognised by the owner of a road-side convenience store, who knocks out and kidnaps Sean. Daniel frees Sean as they escape with the help of travel blogger Brody Holloway. During the escape, Daniel steals a puppy from the store and names her Mushroom. Brody leaves them at a motel a few miles from Arcadia Bay with supplies for the rest of their journey. Daniel learns of their father's death on the news and has a meltdown that almost destroys the motel, revealing he has latent telekinesis and was inadvertently responsible for the earlier explosion. As the brothers continue south, Sean teaches Daniel to control his new powers. Daniel falls ill, forcing Sean to change course to their grandparents' house in Beaver Creek, Oregon, just as Mushroom is killed by a cougar. The brothers reunite with their maternal grandparents, Claire and Stephen Reynolds, but when Daniel shows interest in learning about his mother Karen (who abandoned her family shortly after Daniel's birth), Claire rebuffs them and keeps Karen's room locked.

Daniel later witnesses the Reynolds' neighbor Chris Eriksen fall from his treehouse and uses his power to save him, an event seen from Chris' perspective in The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. Chris, an avid superhero fan, believes he is the one with powers. Later that day, Sean and Daniel discover a recent letter from Karen expressing desire to meet her children, leading to an argument with Claire and Stephen. The police arrive in search of Sean and Daniel, and Claire distracts them so the brothers can escape via the Eriksens' backyard. Chris either helps them escape unnoticed, discovers that Daniel is the one with powers, or is hit by a pursuing police car. Sean and Daniel stow away on a train to California, where they reunite with Finn and Cassidy, two freighthoppers they previously encountered at a Beaver Creek Christmas market. Sean and Daniel earn money working at a marijuana farm for a cultivator named Merrill. Sean spends his time with Cassidy and her friends, neglecting a frustrated Daniel as his powers continue to grow.

Just as the group is about to be paid, Daniel is caught sneaking into Merrill's office, causing an angry Merrill to refuse payment for the others and fire Sean and Daniel. Daniel accidentally exposes his powers to the others while defending himself from Merrill's henchman. While the others promise to keep it a secret, Finn suggests using Daniel to steal from Merrill. Regardless of whether Sean approves or not, the heist goes ahead. Daniel and Finn accidentally alert Merrill, who holds Sean, Daniel, Finn, and potentially Cassidy at gun-point. In the ensuing confrontation, Daniel violently loses control of his powers and destroy Merrill's house. By the following morning, Daniel has disappeared with Merrill's money, leaving the others - including Sean, now injured with a shard of glass embedded in his left eye - behind and alone.

Development[edit]

Prior to production, developer Dontnod Entertainment decided that Life Is Strange 2 would feature new characters and a new location to the original.[8][9] Led by Life Is Strange directors Michel Koch and Raoul Barbet,[10] development on the sequel began in early 2016, while the predecessor shipped its retail edition.[11][12][13] Life Is Strange lead writers Christian Divine and Jean-Luc Cano and composer Jonathan Morali also reprised their roles.[5][14][15] The concept was influenced by the photography of Mike Brodie, who would freighthop across the United States and take pictures of drifters.[16] The game is structured like a road movie, inspired by the film Into the Wild and novella Of Mice and Men. Dontnod conducted field research on the West Coast of the United States, meeting people and taking pictures there.[14][17] The two primary themes of the game are education and brotherhood.[18] Using the Unreal Engine 4, they upgraded the animation system, physics, and shaders.[17] According to Dontnod, one of the biggest challenges of development was the artificial intelligence of the character Daniel.[14] The music contains both original and licensed tracks.[14] Licensed tracks include, among others, songs from Phoenix, The Streets,[19] Sufjan Stevens, First Aid Kit,[20] and Gorillaz.[21]

Release[edit]

The first of five total episodes, Roads (formerly called Seattle),[22][23] was released on 27 September 2018 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.[24][25] Feral Interactive will publish the macOS and Linux versions of that episode in 2019.[26] The second episode, Rules, was released on 24 January 2019.[27] The third episode, Wastelands, was released on 9 May 2019. The fourth episode, Faith, will be released on 22 August 2019, while the final episode will be released on 3 December 2019.[28] In reference to the long development and release window between episodes, Dontnod issued a statement, saying "The Life is Strange series is a project close to all of our hearts and one for which we do not want to rush development and thereby fail to meet the benchmark of quality and emotional impact that you, our players, deserve. This is why we so far have not announced an official release date [for episode two]".[29]

Reception[edit]

Aggregate review scores
Game Metacritic
Episode 1: Roads PC: 80/100[30]
PS4: 81/100[31]
XONE: 80/100[32]
Episode 2: Rules PC: 79/100[33]
PS4: 73/100[34]
XONE: 74/100[35]
Episode 3: Wastelands PC: 81/100[36]
PS4: 74/100[37]
XONE: 75/100[38]

The Verge said in their review that the game "wades into more political, timely topics", with the first episode set in October 2016, right before the election of Donald Trump. The characters yell about "building walls" and worry what will happen if Trump wins the election... and it "feels like a powerful statement about American politics during a very tense time". They also said the "dialogue is awkward and feels like it was run through a teen translator, but there are moments that feel authentic...and it’s also filled with lots of beautiful, quiet moments". Overall though, they stated you can still enjoy the game even if you haven’t played previous entries in the series.[39]

In their verdict, IGN also opined about the underlying political atmosphere of the game. They saw the first episode of the game as a "bigger, more complex story than told by its predecessor, charting a cross-country road trip across Donald Trump’s America", going on to say that "though its social criticisms feel broad and rather clumsy, its core story of brotherhood and fraternity between two believable characters is enormously touching," concluding that "it makes time for small details and quiet moments, and when it does it’s capable of a beauty we rarely see in video games".[40]

GamesRadar was disappointed with the game, saying it had a "slow start" to the new season, and while "the story has some incredibly powerful and well-constructed moments, it doesn’t hang together particularly well". They were also worried about the "lack of actual gameplay, combined with inconsistent consequences and choices". However, they complimented the settings and the overall mood as being "wonderfully crafted, and the soundtrack is hauntingly beautiful as ever". They ended their review stating that fans of the game "will undoubtedly enjoy what’s here, but most will expect much more from forthcoming episodes...this one is very much a work-in-progress.[41]

Game Informer lauded the political aspects, the vulnerability from being scrutinized by others "brings dimension to the characters and connected me to their plight, without it feeling shoehorned in" and the political storyline is being "dealt with care and detail here that feels genuine enough to work". They concluded by saying the season starts on a "good foot, giving us interesting new characters, locales, and an engaging storyline about brotherhood".[42]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Result Reference
2018 Gamescom Best Casual Game Nominated [43][44]
Best Family Game Nominated
Best PC Game Nominated
Ping Awards Best Console Game Nominated [45][46]
Best Graphics Nominated
Best Screenplay Nominated
Best Soundtrack Nominated
Special Jury Prize Won
Golden Joystick Awards Best Audio Design Nominated [47][48]
The Game Awards 2018 Best Narrative (Episode 1) Nominated [49][50]
Games for Impact (Episode 1) Nominated
2019 New York Game Awards Herman Melville Award for Best Writing (Episode 1) Nominated [51]
15th British Academy Games Awards Game Beyond Entertainment Nominated [52]
Italian Video Game Awards Best Narrative Nominated [53]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]