Life Is Strange 2 Puts Family At Its Core
Dontnod Entertainment are taking their sequel to time-bending, hugely successful point-and-click Life Is Strange on the road. At EGX 2018 we were able to spend time with the Diaz family: dad Esteban, teenage son Sean and his younger brother Danny. As with Dontnod's recent free standalone adventure The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, there is no maternal figure in the picture, but unlike that game the family unit seem to be coping reasonably well without a mum.
How long that stability will last is another matter. We already know that the brothers will soon be forced on the run, and we won't spoil the events that lead up to that here, though you can watch the above trailer to find out more. Instead, we'll concentrate on the everyday goings-on in the family, taken from Sean's viewpoint. If you played the first game, you'll know that Dontnod are experts at making mundanity interesting. Sean is a typical older teen, a slightly grumpy exterior masking a more sensitive side which is revealed as you explore the Diaz house, looking for snacks and hunting for a blanket. Interacting with items in the kitchen, living room and Sean's bedroom is a delight as he opens up to the player about things he wouldn't dream of discussing with his dad. A first love is mentioned, as is his frustration with family tropes he's grown out of, and in a more introspective moment we learn that Sean enjoys spending some quiet time on his beanbag simply sketching.
Conversations with Esteban were a highlight of this demo. Should you wish, you can remain closed off about the party which Sean is getting ready to go to on the evening, or you can admit to your father when he asks that the money he is giving you may well be spent on booze and weed. His dad's response feels natural, urging caution while being happy that Sean was upfront and honest. Conversations like this are what gave Life Is Strange its heart, and the sequel looks to be no exception. While it hasn't made huge leaps graphically, the character models feel softer and move more naturally and the music is, as with the first game, pitched perfectly.
We didn't get to experience life on the road with the Diaz brothers nor the supernatural happenings that are bound to manifest at some point, but we're intrigued to see how Dontnod handles an episodic story which moves away from a central location. We loved our time in Arcadia Bay, but an enforced road trip offers the potential for a lot of different encounters. Undoubtedly, the heart of it will centre on the brothers’ support for each other. In Life Is Strange, friendship and independence were the story's focus. In its sequel, family truly matters.
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