END OF THE ROAD
It’s gone quickly, hasn’t it? It feels like only yesterday we embarked on a new Life is Strange, stepping into the shoes of Sean and Daniel Diaz, fugitive kids traversing the roads and backwoods of America. But it’s actually been over a year since episode one arrived, but what a year it has been! We’ve seen Sean and Daniel move all over the great wide west of the U.S, from weed farms in California, to where we last left off at a religious cult in Nevada. But it’s also been a tough road, as you might expect from the series — people have been hurt, relationships have been destroyed and choices have been made. Most of all, players have tried to teach Daniel what they think is the best way to survive. With several different endings to episode 5, it’s time to see which lessons he learnt.
The episode opens soon after we left off, Sean and Daniel have been staying with their mother for the past few months in the Arizona desert commune Nowhere. It turns out this is where Karen ended up after leaving them when they were growing up, and the quirky, but loving characters (and a familiar face) make for an enjoyable introductory section. Things have been hard on Daniel — after having been indoctrinated by the cult, he’s slowly starting to recover his independence. After the conclusion of episode 4, it feels like there’s now an understanding between Sean and Daniel, that they must make decisions together from now on.
You’ll wander around Nowhere, completing a few tasks, but for the most part, it’s a fun, reflective period, where you can examine the life that Karen has made away from your family and come to terms with that (or not). But soon enough, as expected, Sean and Daniel have to go on the run again, heading for the border and their long-held goal of Puetro Lobos and Mexico.
As an episode, ‘Wolves’ really does a good job in making you reflect upon what you’ve taught Daniel. Just like Sean, players did their best to teach him the way of things, and how to survive in this wild wild world. In typical Life is Strange fashion, Wolves is the reckoning, but even more so than the first game. The judgement of all your collective decisions, whether you’ve been fair or consistent with Daniel, is brought to bear. This all ties into the several different endings you can get for the game, some of which are drastically different. But I’m not sure whether I prefer Life is Strange 2 to Life is Strange 1.
I love the concept of the second game — roads are a common metaphor for choice, and what better narrative structure for a game about choices, than a road trip. It has created some great stories and allowed episodes to focus themselves heavily around individual concepts. But at the same time, I’ve missed the regular cast of characters that we had in the first game and the high school/college feel of getting to know them and their secrets/dramas. There’s value to both approaches, but on the whole Life is Strange 2 feels more grounded than the primarily supernatural qualities of the first. With its discussion of racism in the U.S, religious fundamentalism, adolescence, power and freedom, within and without the boundaries of society, it’s a profound game. I’m lucky enough that I was actually happy with my ending for the game, but I will miss these regular episodic instalments for Sean and Daniel. Life is Strange 2 is very much what the player makes of it. As you move through the world, trying your best to educate Daniel, you are creating a future to be realised, often painful and bittersweet, but also wonderful.
Fantastic conclusion to a great journey, far larger variety of endings than the first game, some of the endings are just… yeah
Miss the farewell to a cast of characters like in the first Life is Strange, ending sequences aren't as strong as they could be.