After Telltale’s sudden implosion, the biggest developer left in the genre of episodic adventure games is Dontnod, creators of the time-travel sim Life is Strange. One social vampire sim later, they’ve been teasing a return to their seminal franchise, starting with the excellent The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit demo. In that, players were invited to experience the Saturday of a young boy named Chris as he uses his imagination to escape his alcoholic dad in a small house loaded with Easter eggs and sad details about the story of their family
Life is Strange 2, meanwhile, has you experiencing a different story intended to collide with that of Chris. You take the role of Sean Diaz right as tragedy strikes and he’s forced to take his younger brother, Daniel, on the run from the police. Sean is then forced to make the hard decisions necessary to keep the both of you alive and well on your way down the East Coast of Trump’s America, while determining what kind of person Daniel is going to become.
One thing that truly separates Life is Strange out from most video games is how deliberate the pacing is. For long stretches of time, Sean and Daniel can just explore the environment, and have the time to take it all in, and you can get more of a feel for the brothers and how they play off each other and begin to care for them before the pressure starts to get applied. When it is applied, it’s in quicker moments that feel more intense for all the quiet time we’ve had up to those points.
Instead of teasing details in a Twin Peaks inspired mystery plot, the sequel wants to be a road trip story. So idyllic vistas, quiet woods and rural gas stations are the order of the day. Those visuals are powered with Unreal Engine 4 and evidence a step up in production values parallel to the increase in price. It still has the same watercolor look Life is Strange is known for, too. The soundtrack is the same soft acoustic and licensed track mix you’d also expect from this property.
The gameplay is pure point-and-click adventure, with no time travel in sight. While Max Caufield’s mystical abilities were a shot in the arm for the genre, as it allowed for some truly clever environment and dialogue puzzles, Sean Diaz manages to do without. Then again, the design of the game is such that he never needs to warp time and space to overcome the challenges in front of him. With regards to supernatural powers, they’re not usable in the first episode, even though they are clearly there. Dontnod plays that card much closer to its chest this time around.
In the end, if you’re not sure that Life is Strange 2 is for you, there’s always the Captain Spirit demo, as well as the frequently discounted original game to try out before this game gets more episodes and a slight price cut from it’s $40 price tag.
Logan Graham is a senior studying media arts with a focus in games and animation at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Let Logan know by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.