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Life Is Strange 2 is a strange beast indeed. The original game captivated in large part due to its colorful cast and relatable high school setting, which gradually unveiled the sinister undertones lurking underneath. I like that this game chose to tell a new story over continuing the first one, but I can't be as kind to its other choices.
It starts off strong enough, promising a gritty and relevant tale that directly comments on the dark heart of America's racist nature in a way few dare to, but the game confronts America's racism with one note, having thuggish police and homicidal rednecks attempt to kill two Hispanic kids For the Evulz. There's much more to racism than violence, but the game doesn't explore subtle and institutional racism beyond lip service. The more the game has the brothers violently attacked by racists, the more it does its message a disservice. With its grim themes at the forefront it loses the charm and the relatable high school drama.
And unfortunately, there's Daniel. While initially understandable and sympathetic, Daniel increasingly falls prey to the flaws of child characters with each passing episode, becoming petulant to a fault. Giving Daniel powers was something I considered daring at first, but now I wish they hadn't. Your choices regarding Daniel never affect his most important actions, and its these actions that make his character problematic. It was Episode 4 where I was completely ripped out of the story. The sizeable Time Skip was already pushing the limits of my investment, but there's a twist involving Daniel that utterly demolished any investment I had left. I simply came unplugged from the story. Episode 5 was a notable improvement over 3 and 4, but it wasn't enough to redeem the experience for me.
What lets me down the most is that Life is Strange 2 abandoned the unique identity of the series to follow the 'Prestige Game' narrative formula. Without the presentation of its peers or the originality of the first game I can't enjoy this ride as I want to. I've had my fill of playing as protective male guardians looking over a younger character. We don't get enough female protagonists and that's something that made the first game special.
There are a number of cases involving police shootings in the past four years that would disagree with you about a policeman discharging a weapon recklessly being just some for evulz plot device. Beyond that one policeman, every other police man is just an antagonist to the main characters due to their precarious position with the law. Its a very grey situation and there is no easy option for the brothers to turn to get out of the situation. Beyond that, racial confrontations are on the rise as well, due to political propaganda and scapegoating. Its not like any of this stuff isn't happening because it most certainly it is.
Its funny that you should compare the first to the second, when in fact you can affect several of Daniel's key decisions in the game, whereas with Chloe, you really can't affect her at all. The entire first game, I constantly tried to end Chloe's endless march to self-destruction, her rude behavior to those she didn't see as in her personal circle, and her tendency to deflect blame, and yet nothing sunk through. More often then not, I was dragged into dangerous situations because of Chloe, making me question why they were friends at all. The story gave a ride or die choice of going with her completely or completely cutting myself off. Max keeps trying to play safety net to someone that is very self-absorbed and due to the sudden change in direction, the story never gets that confrontation in which Max tells Chloe to grow up. The storyline was much more railroaded which ended up irritating me.
Daniel shows more emotions than rage and passive aggression. The story does a really good job demonstrating that he is, at his heart, someone that wants to help, but is forced to make complicated decisions he has no experience with. He is someone that wants to believe in a state of organized stability, but is coming to terms with a world where individual self-interest operates around dark corners or beneath lying masks.
I didn't hate the first game, but I felt like I was playing Watson in a Sherlock Holmes novel. In this story, the interactions are much deeper and more dynamic and that's why I think this story is better.
Yeah, the events of this game take place between late 2016 and mid-2017 - racism/bigotry was absolutely on the rise at the time and even emboldened by the outcome of the presidential election, which seems to have gone the same way in this universe. I, for one, am glad the game went as hard as it did in showcasing how fucked up it can be to live in America as a Mexican because, while I haven\'t been blind to what\'s been going on over the past few years, being the one to \"experience\" it was a whole different matter.
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