LIFE IS STRANGE 2

Wel­come to the Wolf Pack

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - CONTENT - @Koenig­inKatze

Drop­ping ev­ery­thing and start­ing afresh is never easy. Whether that be Dontnod clos­ing the door on much-loved char­ac­ters or this sea­son’s tale of two broth­ers on the road af­ter a trau­matic event, it’s chal­leng­ing to face such un­cer­tainty. With Chloe, Max, and time travel left be­hind in Ar­ca­dia Bay, what has sea­son two stuffed into its suit­case as it rushes out the door, and how well pre­pared is it for the road ahead?

Pro­tag­o­nist Sean isn’t su­per-pow­ered him­self but his young brother Daniel is, in pos­ses­sion of tele­ki­netic pow­ers he doesn’t have full con­trol over. With no di­rect com­mand of this force, Daniel’s pow­ers are used to punc­tu­ate the drama rather than as tools for you to wield, form­ing part of the in­ci­dent that puts the broth­ers on the road in the first place. Un­for­tu­nately Daniel’s me­mory of this event lacks cru­cial de­tails that Sean sim­ply can’t for­get, and the gap be­tween their recol­lec­tions drives con­flict this episode.

Much of the ac­tion re­volves around how you in­ter­act with Daniel. Your AI sib­ling’s pres­ence in­forms not just story de­ci­sions but also ex­plo­ration; rather than pas­sively ob­serv­ing the world around you both, you’ll have the op­tion to en­gage with Daniel through it. For ex­am­ple, traips­ing through woods, do you de­cide to point out the wildlife and teach your brother about trail blaze signs? Do you help him over a fallen trunk or leave him to trip and fall un­aided? What lessons are you try­ing to im­part about the world through your ac­tions? In many ways, Sean’s superpower is re­spon­si­bil­ity, with tried-and-true choices given new life through the con­text of Daniel wit­ness­ing them; the ques­tion is no longer ‘is this the right thing to do’ but ‘what ex­am­ple am I set­ting for Daniel… and how will that come back to bite me?’

Daniel him­self presents a com­ple­men­tary blend of mo­ments that are scripted to vary­ing lev­els, leav­ing him far from a frus­trat­ing AI part­ner. Your brother has a mind of his own, sub­tly guid­ing you through more open ar­eas as he peels off to make his own ob­ser­va­tions about the world, even oc­ca­sion­ally dis­ap­pear­ing from view. You’re able to call him back to you, but we’d be ly­ing if we said that we didn’t ex­pe­ri­ence even a hint of panic the first time he went out of our sight, and we re­ally started to worry the first time he didn’t re­spond to our call. This first episode’s ma­jor suc­cess is

“WHAT EX­AM­PLE AM I SET­TING… AND WILL THAT COME BACK TO BITE ME?”

just how pro­tec­tive you be­come to­wards your new brother.

HOME GAME

While Ar­ca­dia Bay is in the past, it’s far from a dis­tant me­mory. Much of the series’ iden­tity per­sists vis­ually, tonally, and au­di­bly… though the spec­tre of sea­son one is some­thing of a clumsy ghost. We won’t spoil it but there’s a key pit stop re­plete with mus­ings about mov­ing away from the past that feels not un­like a meta­tex­tual brick through your screen. But since we’re talk­ing about sea­son one, this fol­low-up’s first out­ing is no­tably more con­sis­tent and sure of it­self than its pre­de­ces­sor. Even as it tries new things, it car­ries for­ward plenty of lessons learned.

Tak­ing place just be­fore the end of 2016, ten­sions are high and the char­ac­ter­is­tic tack­ling of weighty themes re­turns to add an­other re­con­tex­tu­al­is­ing layer to your choices. Part of the way through, the broth­ers come across a shop. You can steal from it but then what will Daniel think? So we part with our measly funds for food and grab a some­what de­cent bite to eat for the first time in two days on a bench just out­side. We did the right thing but we’re ac­costed by the bel­liger­ent pro­pri­etor of the store, ac­cus­ing us of steal­ing; you can do ev­ery­thing ‘right’ but there will still be racist gits. While an in­ter­est­ing re­fash­ion­ing of a lim­i­ta­tion of the branch­ing nar­ra­tive into a strength of the story, it re­mains to be seen where this or any wider dis­cus­sion of racism in Amer­ica will ul­ti­mately lead.

It’s Sean and Daniel – and his un­pre­dictable spe­cial abil­i­ties – against the world.

INFO FOR­MAT PS4 ETA OUT NOW PUB SQUARE ENIX DEV DONTNOD EN­TER­TAIN­MENT

Be­low Will you set a good ex­am­ple or teach Daniel a les­son?

Right Sean’s sketch­book gives you a com­pelling peek at his in­ner life.

Above left We’ll be keep­ing an eye on pup Mush­room and Daniel from now on.

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