(Originally published May 14, 2019)
And there goes my emotional stability.
Life is Strange 2 has no connections to Life is Strange 1 or Before the Storm which is evident in the “Farewell” episode of Before the Storm. The episode serves as the prequel to both the first Life is Strange and more so Before the Storm. The only connections are easter eggs and an homage to Life is Strange 1. The big connection is your choice made at the end of the first game whether to sacrifice Chloe and therefore saving Arcadia Bay or letting the storm hit Arcadia Bay.
Life is Strange 2 is set three years after the events of the first Life is Strange game and places you in the role of Sean Diaz. You don’t have the perfect family of Max and the life she had prior to the events of Life is Strange as you go to school, have a job that the character strongly dislikes and your mother is out of the picture so it’s just Sean, his 9 year old brother Daniel and their father Esteban.
In the beginning of “Roads” you are getting ready to go to a party and you are tasked with getting items for the party. You are locked in when it comes to certain things such as a sleeping bag, but you can be a cool guy and bring beer, chips, latex condos (boy it’d be great to live in one of those), and even steal money. Similarly like how in Life is Strange 1 you had the option to steal all of the Blackwell Academy disability fund, which if you saw my playthrough I did, it was karmic justice for those of you who played Episode 4 in the timeline where Biff gets the almanac. You could also be a big loser who brings soda pop and Halloween candy that would net you negative karma but as the episode moves forward it ends up being just what is needed.
But enough of that, let’s not get carried away.
I will say this about the evolution of the visuals from Life is Strange to Before the Storm to The Adventures of Captain Spirit and ultimately Life is Strange 2, and that is the distinctive look for the stories for the story of say Max and Chloe/Chloe and Rachel and then the current Diaz saga that concludes in December. An example of this is the shared art style of Life is Strange and the prequel Before the Storm. This is reflected in Captain Spirit and most of Life is Strange 2.
While the first Life is Strange had the looming threat of the storm and the possible destruction of Arcadia Bay, Life is Strange 2 has a much more personal looming threat that could be devastating to Sean and Daniel which I will now get to so prepare for and be vigilant and play the episode as this review has many SPOILERS!
I won’t get into specifics but you and Daniel witness the death of your father and an immense wave of energy hits, taking out your fathers killer. You grab Daniel and whatever you have packed away in your bag and either the money you steal from the jar or the money you get from your father. There is a noticeable difference in the amount based on whether you are honest about the party. Sean and Daniel escape before reinforcements arrive.
So you are on the road and Daniel doesn’t know the fate of Esteban and you are trying to find the right time to tell him. What I found interesting and enjoyed was the banter between Sean and Daniel during their time on the road as it feels realistic and there is even an easter egg/reference to another game in “Roads” and that is when you and Daniel are walking through the woods you come across an odd looking form of fungus. This brings up a conversation between Sean and Daniel about how the fungus looks like something from The Last of Us, this leads to Daniel making clicker noises which brings up personal flashbacks from playing The Last of Us.
After making camp under a rock for the night, you and Daniel make a stop at a convenience store to get a map and refill on supplies. In doing so, you meet a journalist named Brody Holloway who finds you and Daniel’s road adventure, and it’s from this moment on where things escalate real fucking quickly. At first you and Daniel are checking where to go next when an old man comes by and asks if you had purchased whatever food and drink combination you can choose from and asks where your parents are. Regardless of your response, the man doesn’t believe you so you have the option to either fight the man or buy time for Daniel to at least get away from the situation.
You end up getting taken captive by the old man and the proprietor of the convenience store and are tied up to a pipe in the back room and says and I quote, “You’re the reason we need to build that wall…” My reaction to this line ended up causing a real life verbal fight with a family member. Don’t get me started…
It is from here you eventually escape from the store with the help of Daniel but before you leave the back office area you hear the same type of energy wave you felt/heard in the opening of the game. You leave the back office to see the old man on the ground and Daniel maintaining his ground. You get your next big choice here as you can either straight up leave with Daniel or steal camping gear. I chose the option to leave as I had done nothing wrong.
You encounter Brody again and beg him for help and he complies based on the evidence which is your bloodied face. It is after this that Brody helps you and Daniel get far away from those racist MAGA cunts. You get into the car and Daniel gets something from the convenience store which turns out to be a puppy that he names Mushroom which I’ll admit is a cute name.
Three hours pass and you end up talking to Brody outside of the car after taking a piss break. While overlooking a town, he admits that he knows the situation that Sean and Daniel are in as they are wanted by the police for the situation resulting in the deaths of Esteban and the man who killed him: police officer Kindred Matthews. It is here that Sean explains why he took Daniel with him on the run and that is the fact that now that they have no parental guardian other than their mother’s parents who haven’t been seen lately, they will be separated in the foster system.
Brody then asks where he intends to take Daniel and Sean’s answer is Puerto Lobos which is mentioned earlier in the episode as the place Esteban grew up and where he also owns land. This is where the Life is Strange 1 connection/easter egg comes into play as the main theme from Life Is Strange 1 plays during Sean and Brody’s conversation and in the background you will either see the light from a lighthouse or Sean will say the line “my life feels like that town down there, wiped out”. Once you, Brody and Daniel drive away; it will cut to a plaque that says something along the lines of “Welcome to Arcadia Bay”, or in the event you let the storm wipe out the town in the original game, you will see a memorial for October 11th 2013 and that “time will not forget you”. I won’t lie, when I got to this part I squeed and lost it. That is the only big connection to the first game as according to Dontnod “Chloe and Max’s story is over”.
After Brody helps you out by getting you and Daniel a motel room and giving you some money to help you and Daniel because he is a genuine human being; he leaves and reminds you that you need to have the talk with Daniel about what happened to their father. He also suggests you toss your phone as it could be a way that the police can track him and Daniel down. So thinking like someone who is on the run from the authorities I jettisoned that phone as soon I got into the room.
While you leave Daniel and Mushroom alone to get him something from the vending machine, you hear the sound of Mushroom barking crazily. When you return to the room, you discover that Daniel was the one who killed the police officer, the one who knocked out the store co-owner and he has a super-power like Max did in Life is Strange. However, this isn’t an eighteen year old who has everything together, but a kid who lost his father and can’t quite control his powers. You end up calming down Daniel and cry it out with him and try to figure out a plan they can go with in a world without their father.
Overall, I fucking loved this beginning episode of Life Is Strange 2 as it tackled the way minorities are treated in this country, the bond between brothers and the reveal at the end of the episode of Daniel’s abilities. The only downside is a theoretical thing I noticed during the scuffle with the racist neighbor. It is when Sean punches him he lands back first on a medium sized stone and it looks like he is really hurt and the way he is moving around right before the police officer shows up is similar to those who become paralyzed after things like this happen. My real worry is that you either make it to Puerto Lobos or you get apprehended and are put away for the altercation.
-Written by Allan Muir