Life is Strange 2 Xbox One X Review

Life is Strange 2 is a worthy successor to the previous games.

By Grayshadow, Posted 05 Dec 2019

Life is Strange 2 follows a new set of protagonists down a difficulty journey they had no interest in starting. With brothers Sean and Daniel traveling to Mexico after a tragic incident destroyed their lives and their family. While the cast is new the atmosphere remains the same as the previous Life is Stranges. With Sean now having to raise his little brother Daniel and attempting to encourage moral or selfish actions that will determine Daniel's future and how he uses his god-like abilities. The gameplay doesn't attempt to evolve or stray from established narrative-driven games and the exploration is limited to a set environment but its the narrative that will keep players hooked until the very end. When everything Sean has taught Daniel leading to one of multiple endings.

Life is Strange 2,NoobFeed,Dontnod Entertainment,

Life is Strange 2 starts off in Seattle. Sean and Daniel Diaz are living a normal life with their single father Estaban. Sean is making plans with his best friend Layla about a party, Daniel is eating lots of sugar, and Esteban is working on Sean's high school graduation gift. Like previous Life is Strange games much of backstory is told through objects in the environment. Random items that Sean can interact with resulting in small pieces of dialogue about the item's significant, usually associated with a past memory.

It's made very clear that the Diaz family is close. Estaban has established with his sons the value of family. but fate has something wicked planned for the Diaz family. After Sean sees their neighbor getting aggressive with Daniel after an accident Sean comes out to protect his brother. Things escalate and end with is Estaban being killed by a cop who investigates the issue. Daniel unknowingly awakens his powers, blasting everything within the vicinity and leaving nothing but destruction. Sean scared and knowing no one will believe what Daniel just did runs away with his brother, beginning their long journey across America and towards Mexico to escape the law.

In the span of a few hours Sean's world comes crashing down. No longer living a normal life, his father is gone, the cops are after him, and now he has to raise his little brother. On top of everything, Daniel has god-like abilities. Unlike Max from Life is Strange who could manipulate time Daniel is capable of powerful telekinetic abilities that grow stronger as the adventure progresses.

Life is Strange 2,NoobFeed,Dontnod Entertainment,

Sean will have to make profound decisions on this journey and sometimes commit more crimes just to survive. In the opening episode, Sean must try and get food with his limited money. Choosing to steal or make do with his limited funds. These decisions also impact Daniel's behavior. Unlike Telltales' narrative experience there's no indicator of how Daniel will response or if it makes a difference. Daniel will then act based on these choices based on a background morality meter. Daniel can become more aggressive, passive, or angry depending on Sean's choices.

Dontnod doesn't shy away from sensitive themes. With Daniel specifically using his abilities in extreme ways. Often leaving a trail of destruction, either by accident or purposely.

There's also plenty of supporting characters that will act based on Sean's decisions. Many of them are fleeting and only remain in single episodes but rare select few will make multiple appearances. This consequential system opens plenty of paths to which the story can take. With various endings and beginnings for each episode.

Life is Strange 2,NoobFeed,Dontnod Entertainment,

As stated, a majority of the narrative is told through interactive objects. Since episodes take place weeks between one another you're encouraged to interact with items and go through your backpack. Which houses items critical to understanding what has happened. This can become vexing since you don't know what objects are important or just nothing.

The cast of characters is varied and each come from diverse backgrounds. Most come from broken homes or lives they prefer to forget. It's a constant rollercoaster as you learn the highs and lows of each character. Offering interesting insight into how they ended up where they are. Personally, my favorite Cassidy. A kind-hearted and open traveler who values honestly but isn't afraid to take risks.

The decisions are made in your standard 2-4 choice formula. A timer and choices appear when a dialogue choice is needed and if the timer runs out a decision is made for you. During critical choices, no timer appears and a unique filter is used to showcase its importance. Here you can take your time and decide. It's your basic narrative structure.

Life is Strange 2,NoobFeed,Dontnod Entertainment,

You can skip through dialogue if you want to return to an episode and change decisions. Every time you start you're given the option to save into 1 of the 5 save slots provided, which is great if you don't want to override a save file. The skip option is less to be desired. You can skip most of the basic conversations but not all. Sometimes you'll have to sit through long cinematics before it's available, which can be annoying especially in collector mode. A mode solely dedicated to locating collectables.

The gameplay is mostly what you'll expect from a narrative drive game. Sean will travel to a variety of locations, with some offering limited exploration. Sometimes there will be collectables and provide in-game context for the area through the people in this area or the items that are present. Exploration is restricted to a handful of areas and the space is limited. Occasionally you'll have to solve puzzles like locating the key item but the game usually has a skip option in the form of an optional direct solution.

Life is Strange 2,NoobFeed,Dontnod Entertainment,

The voice-acting is fantastic. Gonzalo Martin who plays Sean and Doman Dean George who voices Daniel sell their roles. Playing the brothers incredibly in both emotionally tense scenes and when teasing one another. The supporting cast is just as great such as Mei Park as Lyla. But the lip-syncing can be off at times, with the character models moving their jaws and clearly not matching what they're saying. It doesn't happen in the more significant scenes but in the smaller ones, it's easy to notice.

The soundtrack, like in the previous games, still plays a major role throughout the Life is Strange 2. But it's all licensed music so streaming Life is Strange 2 can become a problem. You can turn off the licensed music but it does eliminate a core feature since some scenes lose their impact with the track not being played.

Much of the style and graphics have remained the same. It's beautiful to look and there are tiny details in the game's environments. From a technical perspective, the episodes have improved since launch. With many of the lingering issues resulting in odd bugs and crashes mostly resolved. The final episode still needs some work due to a game-breaking glitch but most of the episodes are still technically stable.

Life is Strange 2,NoobFeed,Dontnod Entertainment,

A major annoyance was the endings. They weren't bad but every one of them has extreme outcomes. There's no middle ground and while it works in creating emotionally charged moments it also makes for some outrageous results with every option leading to Sean being portrayed as a criminal. Yes, Sean committed crimes on this journey but the primary reason behind it was because a cop from Seattle's law enforcement killed his dad. It just seems the developers purposely removed the chance of a neutral ending for shock value when it seems perfectly logical that an ending that favor's Sean getting out of this situation would be likely.

Life is Strange 2 is a worthy successor to the previous games. It carries many of the same tones of Max and Chloe's tale. Full of devastating moments and difficult choices. The gameplay is standard and the exploration is limited but its the journey that makes this tale worth experiencing. Just be prepared for some very intense endings when you reach the finale.
 

Adam Siddiqui,
Senior Editor, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Square Enix
Developer(s): Dontnod Entertainment
Genres: Adventure
Themes: Story
Release Date: 2018-09-27

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