When Life is Strange 2’s first episode launched, its differences seemed to define it. It was a road trip game, where the first Life is Strange had been so focused on a particular place. It featured a far smaller recurring cast, without the familiar faces who had helped flesh out Arcadia Bay. And it was about two brothers, their relationship defined by a difference in age as well as special abilities. It felt a lonelier experience, one slightly harder to warm to, with a central relationship which at times felt more like work than friendship. Ultimately, each of these differences has helped Life is Strange 2 stand out as something unique, truthful and necessary.
Sean Diaz and his younger brother Daniel are forced to run from home and evade the law following the events of a tragedy which leaves them alone in the world. We meet them in a brief moment of normality – part of a family and set of friends not dissimilar from those seen in the first Life is Strange. And then everything falls to pieces.
The brotherly bond the game then explores is a slower burn compared to the rekindling of a reconnection among old friends or the spark of a romance seen in previous seasons. Instead, Life is Strange 2’s heart lies in the growing understanding between these two boys of what they mean to each other, out on the road. It is a closeness learnt over long days trekking through the forest and longer nights spent shivering together by a campfire. It is the continued hardships faced along their journey, the bigotry they endure due to racial profiling, the new friends which help them further towards their goal. It is Daniel’s special powers as a metaphor for a volatile child dealing with loss. And, most of all, it is the ways you as the teenage Sean respond to all of these things – which in turn moulds how the younger Daniel reacts too.