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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.
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