This is an unhurried piece of engaging storytelling.
Best described as an interactive story, Life Is Strange 2 (LIS2) took
me a while to get to the end, unintentionally at first but then more
deliberately. Told over 5 Episodes, each takes a small leap forward in
terms of place and time. While I like playing episodic games all in one
go, having started to do that the story progression here felt more
natural if there was space in between. Sean and Daniel are making their
way to Mexico from Seattle, hooking up with new people as they go,
spending time in each new location. Giving them time to get there and
settle in before dipping back into their lives worked better than
playing straight through. Which is what I ultimately did.
This is in no way a sequel to the first iteration. LIS2 is more like
a tv show that resets its characters and tells a new story. Even the
strange is different.
As intimated, our central characters are Sean and Daniel, brothers
who need to leave where they are and be somewhere else. I mentioned a
teen-ness tinge in my review of the first episode, but long before the
end that is gone. The brothers are still young (16 and 9 respectively)
but It’s way more grown up than I thought it might be, both in terms
of events and story arcs.
We have become accustomed to games which respond to your choices, the
Telltale stable being an example. There is a lot of subtlety here (as
far as I could tell) to how those choices play out, and many seem aimed
at a bigger picture, and how they influence the nature of the
characters, rather than immediate cause and effect. There are some big
decisions that telegraph something will clearly flow (the screen splits
in half and offers you two inconsistent options) but lots of little
decisions and choices impact the morality of Daniel and his feelings
towards Sean. Those things seem to be a factor in how the end plays out,
despite the large choice you make at the time. Watching all 4 endings
would appear to confirm that.
The story arcs can be dark but also tender, at times calm, at others
frenzied. It confronts some big issues, personal as well as social;
abandonment, xenophobia, depression and religious fanaticism among them.
It is less subtle about those elements but forces you to engage with
them through your participation in the responses and actions involved.
It surprised me more than once, shockingly at least once.
It is beautifully animated and acted, and is accompanied by an
equally impressive soundtrack. Motion capture underpins the character
modelling, producing an effective realism. Some elements are a little
unnatural (hair can be plastered to the head, necklaces that should hang
might remain stuck to the body) but it would be pedantic to see these
things as detracting from an extremely positive visual vista.
There is a cinematic quality to the production, especially the
cutscenes. These are many, and often exquisite (the Arizona canyons
stand out). They can be lengthy, and while I was generally happy to sit
and watch, there were times when I wanted to be more involved. I learned
to be patient, but there were some occasions where having been allowed
to participate, all I did was e.g. walk Sean along a path to another
cutscene, and watch some more. Which I found irritating, although across
my 15 hours of playtime was an infrequent feeling.
Little things can matter. From a murmuration of birds in one corner
of the sky to an empty fish tank, some simply fill the environment while
others might provide a marker to how things have changed in the future.
I am sure I missed more than I caught, and perhaps read more into some
of them than were actually there, but that is part of the attraction.
Not everything propels you forward. You can at times stop and draw,
or sit and admire the view, and take as long as you like in doing so.
Not because they are part of any cutscene, but because you choose to do
The backpack holds the items you find, but there is no management of
any kind. Having the items will mean they are able to be used where
necessary; a key for instance will enable you to choose “unlock” or
similar when you try to open the relevant door. You can open your
backpack, within which you can read your journal, rummage through items,
examine the collectables you might have found, and even decorate the
I confess I largely ignored the backpack, except for occasionally
checking my objectives.
A combination of mouse and keyboard is involved in navigating through
the game, although the mouse is the dominant input device. The W key
moves Sean forward, and you “steer” him with the mouse. A third
person perspective is used, and hotspots will be active when Sean gets
close enough. You might have more than one possible action (look, open,
take etc) and you can choose which to select by scrolling with the mouse
wheel and left clicking the chosen one. Ditto for conversation
responses. Different icons will occasionally be utilised to indicate a
particular action is available (e.g. using Daniel’s power) and a bit
of rapid mouse clicking might be necessary for some actions (e.g.
pushing or straining to move an object). Other keys will e.g. access the
backpack and menu, and right click can back you out of wherever you are.
It functions well, is nicely explained and never feels fussy.
LIS2 autosaves, and you can go back and restart from any of those
save points. Doing so will erase everything that comes after, unless you
choose the option to simply look for collectables. Which gives you the
capacity to see how different choices might play out from the point at
which you restart, but doesn’t allow you to continue you from a
preferred set of choices. I would have liked to have been able to create
new saved games from a restart point, rather than deleting what I had
Whatever I might have felt about certain bits and pieces, I was
impressed by LIS2. So many of its elements are worthy of praise, and the
ultimate product delivers a captivating experience.
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-9700k 3.7 GHz