"...I'm grateful for the story it told, as it touches the heart and shines a light on a still somehow overlooked problem in American society."
Life is Strange 2 has been a long, on-going journey whose subject matter demands consistent attention to maintain the level of immersion it's capable of. Unfortunately, for those of us on the frontline of release dates, this has been difficult to maintain and has not benefited the series. As it stands, the three-and-a-half-month hiatus between episodes 4 and 5 may have hampered the impact of the finale, but not extinguished it entirely.
When we last left off, Sean and Daniel escaped a horrific cult in intense fashion, thanks in part to their mother. Episode 5 picks up from there with the boys at yet another outcast camp of sorts. Despite this being the final episode, some new characters are introduced who don't leave much of an impact, but a few surprises are welcomed. The story unfolds in a predictable manner, but as always, the delivery is key. Each characters' dialogue suits their personality and says much without being melodramatic or tiresome. The writers hit all the right notes here and what they chose to focus on was delivered well.
This final installment offers a certain degree of closure, but questions left lingering frustrate. With as much time as has been spent developing Life is Strange 2, I find it odd that some questions have just completely fallen off the radar. Sure, in life, not everything has a neat bow tied around it, but in good storytelling, this occurs more frequently.
Those following the series to date will recognize the progressive values communicated here and the shocking yet realistic look into what several minority citizens in the US have to deal with. Since this review has been written a couple weeks after the final episode's release, I've noticed some ire toward Life is Strange 2 for its supposed excessively liberal leanings, but I assure you, reader, that if you have an ounce of empathy in your bones, you will find this series — and its conclusion — a tasteful and insightful look into how some live in our society; you may even reflect on and identify with Sean and Daniel.
Gameplay-wise, Life is Strange 2 offers healthy use of Daniel's power, as one might expect. These moments offer options that may or may not impact the storytelling meaningfully, but the fact that they exist is appreciated. Dialogue options and timers enhance the experience without serving as obstacles. This episode, in particular, has more of an on-rails sort of feel to it, but if one sets aside the sole desire to impact the story in place of just enjoying a well-told story, DONTNOD offers much to appease.
The music, as usual, enhances the experience in typical Life is Strange fashion. Stylistically unique to the series, the voice, sound, and songs help to bring the story to life. The controls remain seamless, never getting in the way or impacting gameplay in a negative way. Visually, the characters animate well and although they still feel a little like claymations with an unusual sheen, they crest and surpass the uncanny valley.
Life is Strange 2 concludes with an emotionally impactful and woeful story. How players have chosen to shape Daniel through Sean's actions comes to a head, and that's where player behavior seems to matter most. Though, based on the end-game statistics, it seems most people grew a similar Daniel. I can't say the sequel to this series blew me away, but I'm grateful for the story it told, as it touches the heart and shines a light on a still somehow overlooked problem in American society. This is the power of games.
This review is based on a free review copy provided to RPGFan by the developer. This relationship in no way influenced the reviewer's opinion of the game or its final score.