This title was reviewed on Xbox One, but is also available on PS4 and PC.
Not too long ago, I took a crack at the first episode of Life is Strange 2. While I was apprehensive after absolutely despising the last two entries in the series, I was honestly impressed with the first episode, thanks to the genuine relationship between brothers Daniel and Sean, as well as the fair amount of exploration and interactivity in the game’s world. Now that Life is Strange 2: Episode 2 has hit the scene, I was looking forward to dive in. Does it hold up to the solid first episode? Let’s have a look.
Considering that this is simply the next episode in an existing game, the graphics haven’t changed much. This isn’t really a bad thing though, as I liked the LiS art style overall. I decided to make a section for the visuals largely because of one thing: The snow. Being set in winter, the game has plenty of snow and honestly it looks fantastic within the LiS art style. Not only does it look great, but it also helps this particular episode stand out, as it looks quite different compared to the first and probably the next few too.
After a solid first episode set up the relationship between siblings Daniel and Sean, I couldn’t wait to have their adventure continue, and I wasn’t disappointed. After getting a bus to continue their journey to Mexico, the duo manages to get to their grandparents house and camp there. The slowly-forming family dynamic feels natural and is enjoyable to experience, and the story has a few feel-good moments of normality which contrast the horror that sent the siblings on the road.
On top of that, the game also manages to be a solid and enjoyable crossover with The Adventures of Captain Spirit, with the eponymous Captain Spirit living next door. Being the same age as Daniel brings with it a solid relationship between the two, and having Chris believe he has superpowers makes it difficult for Daniel to adhere to the rules Sean put in place regarding his own powers. All of these elements makes the second episode’s story almost perfect, but there’s an absolutely horrifying scene early on that almost ruined the game for me, and the only reason I powered on was because I had to review it. I can’t really go into detail because of spoilers, but just be aware of this absolutely unforgiveable scene.
One thing I really liked about the first episode was that it had plenty of options for exploration as well as a ton of interactivity which prevents it from being a glorified cutscene. Thankfully, this second episode maintains this level of interactivity, as there’s a ton to see and do. These interactive moments also lead into the hook of this kind of game: the choices. There’s plenty of times where you can make decisions, and while some are in your face, there’s more subtle ones such as going on your Grandpa’s computer and getting updated on the outside world.
I criticised the first episode for making it seem like the choices I made didn’t matter, but this episode was a massive improvement in that regard. Depending on how much you encourage/discourage Daniel from using his powers or if you let him tell Chris about them, you can get radically different endings to this episode. I love this, as it actually makes me feel like my decisions mattered in the long run, in contrast to the first episode where you’d get accused of shoplifting even if you didn’t shoplift in the game.
The sound is just as solid as it was in the previous episode. The voice actors for Sean and Daniel feel as natural as ever, as do the returning Captain Spirit cast. Even newcomers like the grandparents or the train-hopper Cassidy feel natural in their roles, meaning there’s no cringe-worthy dialogue that plagued the first game or the first few minutes of the first episode. As well as that, the musical score is fantastic, which matches the brothers’ adventure quite well, just like in the first episode.
Life is Strange 2: Episode 2 is a fantastic continuation of the adventures of Sean and Daniel. The snowy landscape and aesthetic help it stand visually from the previous episode, and the story is overall great thanks to some natural relationship building and crossover throughout. There’s plenty of exploration and interactivity to prevent the game from feeling like a giant cutscene. A massive improvement over the first episode is that your choices actually matter, with radically different endings depending on how much Daniel was encouraged to use his powers. However, there is a horrible and unnecessary scene early on that almost ruined the game for me, and if it weren’t for me having to review it, I would have stopped playing entirely.