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Life Is Strange 2 - Episode 1
Posted: Posted November 2nd by Jet Presto

Kind of totally forgot the first episode came out, but I finally got my order in for Life Is Strange 2. As you might know, I was a huge fan of the first game. Loved the characters. Thought the time rewind power made for a slightly more fun and engaging interactive experience than your typical TellTale-esque, choice-based, narrative-driven game. (I still think some of the puzzles are really solid given the limitations). The score and soundtrack was great. The sort of Lynchian vibe made it feel, well, strange while still remaining grounded. Max Caulfield is still one of the most relatable protagonists I have experienced myself in games. While hardly a perfect game, I thought it also did a good job tackling some pretty heavy real world issues that most game developers would never dream of approaching.

I was one of those who felt from the announcement that moving away from Max and Chloe - as much as I love them and they made that game for me - was inherently a good decision. Though it feels a little strange to not play as Max or see anyone familiar around, I think this decision was definitely for the best. I've been enjoying the two brothers' relationship be explored, through story and player inputs. It's almost shades Walking Dead in that it feels a bit like the goal will be to keep your little brother safe.

Yes, the big departure in gameplay comes from who you control. In Life is Strange, players control Max, a girl with mystical time rewind powers. In Life is Strange 2, players control the brother of someone who has unusual, unsure but apparently force-like abilities. The lack of powers for the player character means the game mechanics are ultimately pretty simplified, even for a "pick a dialogue option" standard. Where Max could rewind and puzzles were built around that ability, there is no such addition to that basic element.

However, it does appear that Daniel management (the younger brother) might be the very point of the game. In the fist episode, there is a stretch where you only have $30 in your pocket, which you need to get to where you're going, but you also need to decide how much of your very limited money supply you will spent. Sometimes this is between choosing a sleeping bag or some food. It's painful, especially when 9 year old Daniel still doesn't know what's going on.

Overall, I really liked it. Definitely starting off a lot darker or heavier than the previous situation. The brothers play off each other very well (which is key as that makes the whole trilogy). At the same time, the score and soundtracks are totally in sync. The maps sometimes are pretty big, at one point seemingly asking players to pick the "right direction" by reading trail blazing marks. It's a cool idea, even if still pretty small.

Anyway, I'm curious if anyone else has played it. If so, what are your thoughts so far?

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There are 11 Replies

I watched it through an LP.

My main criticism is that it doesn't seem like there are a good variety of outcomes in the storyline, so the choices you make don't seem to matter except for how it goes until the next plot point. That's what I notice about most telltale games, though. And, granted, I just watched one LP; I haven't experimented with different choices and tried to make the game go in different directions.

I didn't really relate to the characters too much. I didn't feel like the story was very mature, but rather more like a Young Adult video game.

I agree with you about money and provisions, that seemed interesting, and I hope as the game goes on this becomes even more critical.

Posted November 2nd by Agis
Agis
 

It's exceedingly political and just shy of painting white people as assholes, but they threw in the token white guy who helps them so they could get away with it the same as Black Panther did.

Posted November 2nd by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

I liked that they chose to center characters that are probably less directly relatable to a wider audience. As much as I love and adore Max Caulfield, the shy, awkward, geeky, high school outcast is probably a bit too relatable to a lot of players. Not that that is a bad thing, but I don't think the series would stay as interesting if it just played it relatively safe. Certainly when it comes to themes, they don't. But I am appreciating the perspective of a character that is not almost literally lifted from my own life experience.

As for the choices, I feel a bit differently for several reasons. For starters, all "choice" in games is an illusion. I can't think of too many games in which choices dramatically change the direction of the story. But you're right: this is certainly a fundamental flaw in this style of game. There will always be major narrative tentpoles that one has to hit. I think the thing for me is that I tend to take it as choices that impact the story, not completely change it. I also haven't experimented with alternative choices, but I also kind of always enjoy seeing how even presented with ultimately meaningless choices in video games, how I wind up feeling about actively making such choices in the real world. At the same time, it is still the first of five episodes, so while we can be reasonably certain the story wouldn't be completely different based on the opposite choices from what we as a player made, it is still a little unclear yet what impact these choices might have. I kind of imagine it might be a thing where our choices build up the character of Daniel to determine the fate of something. I suspect that the central function of the choices throughout this game might be to essentially manage and establish a particular moral code for Daniel. (Or the kid fro the Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, who I heard was supposed to appear in Life is Strange 2, but hasn't yet.)

Young Adult might not be an inaccurate way to describe the series in general, but I'm personally fine with that. All three games so far have centered on young people, while taking on some serious real world themes. This is similarly true of most young adult fiction in general, in particular the popular Harry Potter and Hunger Games books/movies. So I think it's totally fair to call Life is Strange young adult fiction video games too. I just don't think that means anything about the overall quality of the work.


It's exceedingly political and just shy of painting white people as assholes, but they threw in the token white guy who helps them so they could get away with it the same as Black Panther did.


God forbid artists be allowed to be political. Or god forbid we admit that people, including white people in a predominantly white area of the country, can be assholes and bad people. For whatever it's worth, there were at least two white people presented as genuinely good, kind, compassionate people, on top of the white friends that Sean has that message through text. There is even a third who is presented as a bit more complex than good/bad. This opinion of yours, including with Black Panther, highlights a lack of space you are willing to give to narratives from non-white perspectives. That you can't handle politics if it is coming from a non-white perspective, or that you can't handle the presentation of a few racist white people in a country with a bunch of racist white people maybe says more about you than the game makers. I get it if you don't like games to get political (although as openly stated in the first episode here, "everything is political.") But the fact that you seem to openly resent non-white perspectives is a bit telling, mi amigo.

Posted November 2nd by Jet Presto

Agis: did you play the previous Life is Strange games?

Posted November 2nd by Jet Presto

It's exceedingly political and just shy of painting white people as assholes, but they threw in the token white guy who helps them so they could get away with it the same as Black Panther did.

Wtf how did you come up with that assessment? You need help

Posted November 2nd by Brandy

It should also be stated that the game is clearly intending to pull themes and topics from the current headlines and political and social climate. Knocking a game doing that for being "exceedingly political" would be like knocking a Mario game for being "exceedingly fun." Sort of the point of it.

Posted November 2nd by Jet Presto

I am just saying it would be braver to go all out and not have the token white guy.

Posted November 2nd by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

I liked the writing but they wimped out.

Posted November 2nd by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

Also I would bash a Mario game for being exceedingly cutesy and over the top. But I wasn’t bashing LIS2. I criticized one element of it and then you attacked my character.

Edited November 2nd by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

The “token white guy” isn’t a thing. You criticized it for basically “reverse racism.” You have also criticized pieces of art and entertainment from non-white perspectives for dealing with race from their different perspective and life experiences before. I am criticizing your character for that because it merits the challenge.

Posted November 3rd by Jet Presto

I didn't criticize it for reverse racism. There's no such thing as reverse racism. There's only racism. The game isn't racist.

I'm not even criticizing it for the reasons you think I'm criticizing it for. I'm criticizing it for not going dick out with it's plot and instead watering it down to appeal to white players. I am criticizing Black Panther for doing the same thing. There's no need for the friendly white guy in either of them.

Edited November 3rd by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king
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