Life is Strange 2: Episode 1 - Roads (PlayStation 4) Review

By Az Elias 26.10.2018

Review for Life is Strange 2: Episode 1 - Roads on PlayStation 4

Max and Chloe's time travelling adventure ended with the finale of Life is Strange season one, and while it may have closed on a bittersweet note that wasn't without its hint of frustration due to the lack of multiple endings that were supposed to be based on the choices made throughout the five episodes as advertised, the journey as a whole was quite the emotional roller-coaster, tackling numerous personal and social issues that allowed it to make very deep and meaningful connections with its audience. Having now finished up a rather different project in the form of Vampyr, Dontnod Entertainment returns to the Life is Strange universe with season two, featuring a brand-new duo.

It is a little unfortunate Dontnod didn't opt to keep the female protagonist torch burning after the breath of fresh air it was having Max, Chloe, and indeed Rachel (from Deck Nine's season one prequel, Before the Storm) at the forefront of events gone by in the Life is Strange world, but season two's Sean and Daniel Diaz will cater greatly to many players.

The brothers' Mexican heritage means a people not often represented in video games - certainly not at the main character level, anyway - may find the pair appealing and relatable, and players in general can appreciate the diversity Dontnod is trying to deliver through this series.

Screenshot for Life is Strange 2: Episode 1 - Roads on PlayStation 4

Roads, as the first episode is titled, follows Sean and Daniel on the run from their home in Seattle, Oregon, after an altercation involved the police, climaxing with a strange phenomenon that killed an officer, unintentionally caused by the younger of the two siblings. As wanted citizens, the boys have little choice but to head south, with older brother Sean deciding the best recourse is to cross the border into Mexico, where their dad owns a plot of land. Cue a lot of walking, some camping, a little sightseeing, drawing, shopping at a gas station, and meeting some good - and not so good - people along the way.

The bulk of this brief episode does its best to focus on the relationship between Sean and Daniel, of which there is a seven-year age gap. Sixteen-year-old Sean has been thrown from his high school life into uncharted territory in an attempt to take his younger brother to safety, protecting him at all costs. Whilst the dialogue may not always wash so well at times, coming across as a little corny and try-hard, which is fairly similar to the previous season, it gets the points it wants to make across just fine, which is mainly that of emphasising the boys' brotherhood. One particular guy they meet also highlights the kindness of strangers, leaving a lasting impression on not just the brothers, but the player.

Screenshot for Life is Strange 2: Episode 1 - Roads on PlayStation 4

As with the season before, a variety of tough subjects are touched upon, including racism, which are brought to prominence on occasion. It might at times come across as trying too hard to exert current real-world political problems, but there is perhaps no better way to engage an audience - and especially people of the same or minority backgrounds - than to take what is going on in the modern world and apply it into the game to craft more empathetic characters. Dontnod hasn't been afraid to highlight real life troubles in the past, and if this first episode of the second season is anything to go by, there may be more to come.

The somewhat "modernised" point-and-click style of adventure that was made popular with TellTale's The Walking Dead returns, with main character Sean able to examine objects of interest in his surroundings, collecting stuff to put in or on his backpack, and sitting down to draw landscapes (this season's equivalent of taking photographs or tagging, except with some weirdly fiddly control setup), and the chance to make decisions through dialogue options or button prompts. How much certain choices impact later on in the story is unknown at this point, of course, but it will be fascinating to see, given that most major outcomes were few and far between in season one and the ending was relegated to a simple "yes or no" question that disregarded everything picked previous to it.

Screenshot for Life is Strange 2: Episode 1 - Roads on PlayStation 4

There are a handful of eyebrow-raising moments both technically and narratively, with, for example, a store owner's randomised casual dialogue overlapping with her lines when speaking to her directly, and a jittery Sean character model during a specific scene with him about two thirds into the episode. The story-related issue relates to the boys being front page news as wanted citizens, yet still casually walk into and around a gas station that is selling the papers, anyway. Hungry as they are at that point in time, it seems pretty unrealistic how they hang around the place for as long as they do.

Really, though, the real grievance is more that this first episode is unexciting. It has its moments when young Daniel's strange ability kicks in, and there is time for a little humour and love despite the harsh situation they find themselves in, but the bulk of it centres on the siblings' bonds as they trek and try to cope along the forested trails. Complaints aside, the art style does a wonderful job of displaying the beauty of Oregonian nature.

Screenshot for Life is Strange 2: Episode 1 - Roads on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Episode 1: Roads sets Life is Strange 2 up for potentially great things, but the entertaining moments are extremely fleeting in what is clearly intended to be an emotionally-driven adventure that works to set the tone for what is to come, with particular value placed on the story of brotherhood. The supernatural element at play as the main plot device is interesting, but it again only works to serve as a teaser for what is lying further down the road for the brothers. Not as gripping as season one, but this short episode does its job.

Developer

Dontnod Entertainment

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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