Friday, September 28, 2018

"Life is Strange 2: Episode 1" Review

It's fitting that "Life is Strange 2" is launching the week that Telltale Games went under. As the old guard that reinvigorated the point-and-click adventure genre with "The Wolf Among Us," "The Walking Dead," "Batman" and "Game of Thrones" fades away, the wily innovators at Dontnod Entertainment have reached new heights with "Life is Strange 2." The third episodic series in the franchise proves beyond any doubt that the torch for the genre has been passed.

The first of five planned episodes, "Life is Strange 2" shifts to a different set of characters. Once again, the game is a supernatural forces-tinged tale of awkward, brutal adolescent life. Much of the appeal comes in small moments, such as crashing on a beanbag to sketch out a drawing, flipping on music, and firing up a laptop or pulling out a cell phone to check on your friends. With the vigor and insight of "13 Reasons Why" and "Stranger Things," the "Life is Strange" sequel plants you squarely into the tumult of teenage life, where decisions fluctuate from inconsequential to life-changing minute by minute.

The narrative focuses on two brothers who are left to fend for themselves in a harsh, unforgiving world. David, a high school senior, is the reluctant caretaker of Daniel, who is coming to grips with newfound, barely-controlled psychic powers. The kids wrestle with the typical interchangable insecurities, rivalries and tenderness of siblings, all while sinking into a larger struggle that's more explosive and wide-ranging than either of them can fathom.

The choices you make in actions and in manipulating the dialogue trees have a heavy impact on the way the story unfolds. Likewise, your choices in the original "Life is Strange" -- yet not that of the prequel, subtitled "Before the Storm" impact the setup you face in this game. You can vie to steer Daniel toward the path of righteousness, or nudge him seemingly along the path or short-term gain that could possibly lead to madness or megalomania.

A crackling start to what promises to be yet another chilling, tragic and effortlessly funny and insightful take on teen angst and empowerment, "Life is Strange" proves that despite the fall of Telltale, the adventure genre has not yet plateaued.
Publisher provided review code.

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