When I first heard of Life Is Strange, I thought that I would give it a try. It was a deal on Steam, and it looked interesting based on what I heard from other people. This is one of the games I have gotten back into while in quarantine. If you are looking for something to keep you busy, and you want a game where your choices will not only shape the outcome of the game but also the way your characters act throughout it, then you will also want to play the sequel to the franchise, Life Is Strange 2.
Here’s a quick recap on the first Life Is Strange: It is about an 18-year-old girl named Max Caulfield who discovers her time traveling powers after saving her old best friend, Chloe Price, from death. They reconnect throughout the game, and Caulfield starts to grow more as a person as her powers force her to make tough decisions. You will make some crazy choices in the game; I know I have. I won’t reveal my decisions — because spoilers — but Price fans would probably hate me for it.
Caulfield and Price work together to solve the disappearance of Rachel Amber, whose story you can explore more in the prequel, Before the Storm. While there are references to the first Life Is Strange in the sequel, it is not necessary to play the first game before you play this one.
The second Life Is Strange is as amazing as the original, and it has storylines and characters that should get your attention. The second game centers around two brothers, 16-year-old Sean and 9-year-old Daniel Diaz and their journey to their father’s hometown in Mexico. They run away after tragedy happens, resulting in their father’s death. They are on the run, trying to survive and making sure they have secure futures.
Minor Spoilers Ahead
The game takes place in 2016, just before President Trump was elected into office. The game is not shy about its stance on the current climate. This is shown in the texts between Sean Diaz and his best friend Lyla early in the game, along with the comment that Sean Diaz and Daniel Diaz’s racist neighbor makes when he tells them to “go back to their country,” even though both brothers were born in America.
There is also a character that they run into that says, “you’re the reason they need to build that wall.” Trump is not mentioned directly; however, the clues make it clear that they are referencing the president.
The two face racism throughout the game, from the Spanish language getting bashed to dealing with not only a racist neighbor but a racist cop too. While the game might be a piece of fiction, these things are happening in real life, and the game brings attention to what is going on.
What makes the second Life Is Strange different from the first one is that, while the choices still matter in the game, now there are endings that you can get based on the lessons that Sean Diaz teaches Daniel Diaz.
For example, if Sean Diaz decides to steal food from the store, then Daniel Diaz may steal in the future no matter who the person is. If you encourage cursing, then Daniel will curse even more in the future. These decisions can impact the kind of person Daniel Diaz becomes in the end, so decisions not only matter to the main character, but they impact how the people around him react as well.
A unique concept from the first game is money. You don’t have much at the beginning of the game, and how much you have at the beginning will depend on if you are honest with your dad about your plans to go to a party that night. How much money you have will determine how much food you are able to get for the brothers.
The game shows that sometimes you have to be responsible when it comes to spending. The next time you complain about not having enough money to get the latest shoes or the latest fashion trends, it will make you think about the people that are using that money just so they are able to eat.
The pair also learn to live life without the need for technology. When they are on the run, Sean Diaz has no choice but to destroy his phone so the police can’t find them. The brothers find themselves playing board games that they made from scratch. Daniel Diaz takes a bunch of old school toys with him, and Sean Diaz has the option to draw what is around him, which shows how therapeutic art can be. It is a common theme that both games have: Caulfield is a photographer and Sean Diaz is an artist.
Many issues are brought to light in the sequel, like racism and discrimination, politics, homelessness, the weed industry, loss and abandonment.
Compared to the first game, I believe that the second installment is more underrated. Both games have amazing soundtracks — which also gives some attention to indie artists — and both highlight serious issues. The first Life Is Strange tackled suicide, mental illness, loss and the impact that loss can have on a person. While there are plenty of antagonists in the second game, it can be argued that the main villain is in fact racism.
Life Is Strange 2 can really wake you up to what is going on in the world right now, and while some forms of media might tiptoe around politics, the game is not shy about showing how it feels about the current state of things in the U.S. You can choose to go on either path, but whatever path that you choose, just know one thing: “This action will have consequences.”