Yeah it is a uninspiring title I get it but I’m here to tell you which of the two games I preferred and why.
From the moment we learnt that LiS2 was going to have a new cast of characters, focus on something very different from the first and would not see the return of Max and Chloe I felt a big proportion of the online fan base was against Life is Strange 2 but did they manage to make a game that changed minds or is Life is Strange just a game that can never be matched?
For a start if you have waited to play LiS2 hoping that it’ll be just like the first I’m afraid your worst nightmares are true.
It is nothing like the first.
Life is Strange I felt worked so well when it came out because of how different it was. It utilized superpowers at a time where superhero movies and powers in general were becoming a little more main stream but it did something things like Heroes had already done in such a chill way that it spoke to a bigger section of gamers then it originally had any real right to do so.
People loved the game because whilst there was the time travel aspect at heart it was just the story of a girl called Max.
You lived her life with her. Attending school, falling in love, going around taking photos of things and generally just being a teenager. It was fun, it felt unique and it packed a huge emotional punch even to someone like me who hated Max because she was a snobby rich girl who looked down her nose at other snobby rich girls.
It didn’t matter though because it felt like a different way to tell a story.
Even Before the Storm, which I haven’t added as I feel like it really is part of the first game, managed to have that feeling and took away the magical powers from you. Originally this was why I had high hopes for LiS2 when you found out the main character actually doesn’t have any powers at all. I enjoyed running around living life as Chloe more then I did as Max and Before the Storm if anything was my favourite experience out of the originals in some ways.
That being said Life is Strange continues to be the best overall experience of the series.
It is sad for me not because I disliked Max but because I felt the concept of Life is Strange 2 was so much more important then that of the first. Whilst Max had the life of a whole town in her hands by the end of the game, and I’m still salty that it felt like the “right” choice was to be selfish and kill everyone so you can go and play happy families with the friend you abandoned at the worst part of her life and came back after the second worst part of her life had started, Sean had a entire life being molded into the adult they would later become by his side the entire story.
Whilst LiS focused on time travel and paradoxes created by the main character LiS2 focused on the affect nurture has over children compared I guess to nature.
No matter what you did with Max her actions really only affected her and sometimes Chloe. No one really changed that much due to the way you treated them or acted around them and the story and characters were written in such a way that you were just a passenger in their story picking small bits and pieces here and there to change.
With Sean the entire point is who will Daniel become by the end of the game and by the look of the multiple endings you can have there is a huge difference.
You notice it by the end of every game too. When they come up with the world stats and you sit there baffled by some of the things Daniel could do compared to what he did in your play through. Things like stealing if he see’s you steal a lot or showing more compassion if you have made him be compassionate. I won’t spoil some of the endings but there is a truly bad ending you can get which I don’t think I’d ever have the heart to play through the game and make Daniel that bad to get it.
I really just enjoyed the fact that you determined the actions of a NPC. You couldn’t really make Daniel do some things and you couldn’t stop him from doing other things, he was a child that learnt how to be responsible and respectful based on your own actions.
It wasn’t really something you felt whilst playing through the game though.
Actions didn’t really feel like they mattered and the only time you could sit there and see the differences that you made on Daniel were at the end where it felt foreign to you to see some of the options he could have taken instead of the ones you did take. Daniel’s behaviour can swing a total 180 from what your Daniel does and whilst that is fascinating it didn’t come over as something important as you plodded through the game.
Then again nothing in LiS felt super important either!
I mean both games did as you played them feel bigger then they were and I feel my thoughts on LiS2 might have been impacted on how I felt that in the end LiS only had one path for you to take and if you didn’t like that path it didn’t matter. My expectations were probably lowered and therefore I wanted something much more obvious to happen to show me that this game was actually going to care about my options and because they weren’t there glaring me in my face I feel like I didn’t really believe there was another path.
Sadly that wasn’t even the start of Life is Strange 2’s problems.
It felt rushed.
Which is silly because each game seemed to take so long to come out but they were buggy as hell and some of them made no sense. The weed cutting mini-game was totally broken when I played it and I crashed out of the game so many times when I never had a single problem with the first.
Whilst I loved the concept of being on the road and as I said in the review to Wolves I liked that message that in life in general people will come into your life for good or bad, stick around or leave but they are all experiences. That being said they didn’t want to just concentrate on that. Having two kids on a road trip trying to escape the law was one thing but it was dripping in a message about racism and anti-Mexican feelings in America that didn’t translate well to me and at times felt really heavy handed.
For example the vigilantes in the final episode just felt put there to have the debate over immigration play out in front of Sean. There was no need for it, no point to it other then getting more bigot opinions shut down.
I gave the game a pass for being political. People didn’t like real world politics mixing with their game but I felt it was a strong message to send. Just it felt like the developers lost either interest or the courage to see it to the end. My final words to the vigilantes was basically that they were bigots and it was said in such a defeated tone by Sean that I felt it was symbolic of this entire message in the game. I don’t know if they wanted to push it more, saw the reaction to the first episode and toned it down just to re-examine it at a later date but it just felt like a burden in the end. It felt like a way to have a destination to reach as well as a message that the team just, in the end, wasn’t brave enough to really give to its players.
Then again people act like Life is Strange was a complex story and did its own story very well. It did do its story very well but it was far from complex. It was the simplest of stories you could possibly have and it stuck to its guns the entire game through.
Which is why Life is Strange will always trump its sequel.
Personally I love Daniel and Sean much more then Max and Chloe, I think the concept of LiS2 was better and I loved seeing Daniel change based on my actions. The more I play of Life is Strange the more I dislike Max and feel she is just a whiny brat.
That being said it was the perfect experience. It was fun, it was emotional, it built this entire world that you cared for with such amazing characters and whilst LiS2 had all that it always felt rushed and half assed.
Neither game is perfect but Life is Strange was much closer to perfection then Life is Strange 2 ever will be.