"The lyrics and melodies drew me in immediately, and I feel like simple tones can drive a point home more than graphics and writing."
In season tradition, we've waited about three and a half months for Episode 3. Fortunately, this season is so memorable with its seamless marriage of larger-than-life and humble moments that jumping back in takes little effort; few modern adventure games can claim as much. One sticking point of the season thus far has been its pace. While the episodes are satisfying in length, not a lot happens outside of the boys hiding. Episode 3 amps up the story.
The Diaz brothers return, this time on a farm of sorts. Working with other wanderers, new friendships and tensions form as the boys have to adapt to new living conditions. In low-action tales like this, character development becomes even more important than other adrenaline-infused stories. With DONTNOD steering the ship, fans can rest assured that the careful rigging and knots tied of character growth make for a vessel that can sail against the torrential waves of slow development. Although calm waters would be much appreciated, at least we can have faith in the structural integrity of the ship.
Gameplay is always an aspect of adventure games I find fascinating. Most people don't play adventure games to test their reflexes or jump at the right time, so when I find creativity infused in the narrative to enhance player interaction, I take notice. While Episode 3 only has a couple such moments, they truly accentuate the narrative and conditions the characters experience. Indeed, sometimes creative game design isn't intended to be "fun," but rather to deliver a point about what life is like. DONTNOD accomplishes this exceptionally, and I was drawn in so much more than I would have if I had just idly watched my companions and I toil. Similarly, I became appropriately frustrated when my agency was stripped away from me.
Odd graphical moments occurred, but barely impacted my immersion. At one point, a character physically blocked the camera while two other characters were talking. Another time, Sean was supposed to be holding something in his hand that he was clearly interacting with, but it wasn't there. These moments are regrettable, but easily overlooked. What should be lauded is the consistent quality of character animations, though they can occasionally appear plastic and phony. The voice work impacts the experience in a similar fashion, with some actors delivering their lines powerfully, while others seem out of place and awkward. Fortunately, Episode 3 boasts some of that musical coupling we're used to hearing from the first Life is Strange and Before the Storm. The lyrics and melodies drew me in immediately, and I feel like simple tones can drive a point home more than graphics and writing.
Some fans have complained that Life is Strange 2 isn't as good as its predecessors, but why should it be? One of the few woes of creating an exceptional game series like Life is Strange is that people want every new installment to be better than the last, and that's simply unreasonable. What we have here is a good tale. Maybe it's not great or to the standard that people expect, but it's well worth the time of anyone who enjoys a good story, despite its slower pace.
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.