An overturned police car burns in the street beside the bodies of a policeman, a teenage boy, and the victim of a disturbing public shooting. In a peaceful suburb in Oregon disaster strikes, leaving two young brothers on the run when they’re accounted for a tragedy that baffles and frights the public during an age of fake news, national chaos and American anxiety. Whether they’re innocent or guilty, however, seems trivial when compared to the dangers they face on the road, as well as an uncontrollable power one of them possesses.
The premise of Life is Strange 2, witnessed in trailers since its announcement earlier in 2018, has set the game to be perhaps one of the most politically daring and emotional graphic-adventures of not just the year, but the century. With the first episode, Roads, being a hit on release in September, fans of Dontnod Entertainment and Square Enix’s award-winning title Life is Strange are readying themselves for an equally astounding storytelling experience with its sequel. Reviving the franchise’s teenagehood narrative for the third time, the game will explore the survival of relationships, family and innocence through the traumas of modern U.S. society for characters like Max, Chloe, Rachel – and now Sean Diaz – as they’re coming of age.
There are some big changes, predominantly in characters and setting. It was back in 2015 when Max Caulfield came to our screens as an isolated photography student studying in her old hometown of Arcadia Bay, who discovers a supernatural ability to bend time when she has to save her troubled best friend, Chloe Price, as her world is transformed by a coming storm. Its prequel, aptly named Before The Storm which came out late last year, continued to follow dysfunctional families, friendship and sexuality in the story of Chloe and Rachel, however the development team have put Arcadia Bay to rest (for now).
Instead, they’ve moved from one west-coast small-town to another, where laid-back, 16 year-old Sean, and nerdy but tough nine year-old Daniel, depend on their single father. Their lives are a struggle, considering their financial difficulties and Mexican heritage in the shadow of Trump’s America. After the supernatural event which land the family in peril, the player takes control of Sean as his journey with Daniel begins, making decisions that will alter Daniel’s behaviour in addition to the storyline, which features scenes varying from their time in the wilderness to those where they’re at odds with racists. Inspired by the photography of Mike Brodie and stories such as Into the Wild and Of Mice and Men, the game looks at themes of masculinity, education, race and brotherhood as Sean and Daniel try to clear their name, find safety and understand the powers they’re dealing with.
So far, there’s been no release date for the second episode of the game, to the fear of fans all over – especially considering the recent collapse of Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Final Season, a very similar game from an equally similar franchise. Regardless, there’s a lot of confidence in what the rest of Life is Strange 2 will have in store, which is likely to be heartbreak and months of sobbing, if the past is anything to go by…