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Game Review

The original Life Is Strange, from a few years back, was a very creative and intriguing game. It focused on a young girl who had the supernatural ability to rewind time and get a do-over on certain key moments in her life.

It also let gamers decide what physical choices and dialogue interactions the protagonist would make—while, along the way, contemplating questions about the paths we choose in life and the ethics of wishing we could change the past. The problem was, it tossed gamers into some painful and perverse M-rated situations, too.

The second installment in this narrative adventure title is now being released online in episodic chapter form by Square Enix—and it's got similar strengths and weaknesses.

Two Roads Diverged …

"Roads," the first episode in Life Is Strange 2, doesn't revisit anything from the past game. Instead it introduces us to a pair of brothers: 16-year-old Sean Diaz and his 9-year-old sibling, Daniel. Their adventure is all about growing up and facing a scary and unknown future.

Are there superpowers in the mix this time around? Well … yeah. But we only see the first few hints of those abilities and at times deadly abilities in this first installment. And there are also a few political messages and statements to be found in the situations and dialogue choices here as well.

Things start off at the Diaz family home, where Sean, Daniel and their single dad, Esteban, lead a fairly typical Middle America kind of life. Sean's an adolescent track star with a teenage crush. Daniel's a rambunctious tyke cooking up fake blood and looking forward to finishing his Halloween zombie costume. And Esteban is a mechanic who works hard to keep the kids and clan clicking along. The game leisurely lets us get to know this likable trio of guys: the way they talk to each other, the things they prize, the friends they have, the love they share.

Then it's all ripped away.

In a quick series of unfortunate events, a hothead bully next door is accidentally killed. A police officer shows up. Misunderstandings escalate. Esteban runs to his boys. He ends up dead, too. And after this deadly trauma, and a strange and deadly supernatural event that leaves the cop dead as well, Sean and Daniel take off on the run.

A dead neighbor, a dead cop, their dead dad. There's no way the authorities will understand that it all happened in a tragic series of accidents, Sean reasons. Their only way out, the only way two Mexican-American kids will get a fair shot in this country, is if they take to the road.

And take it as far as possible.

I Took the One Less Traveled

From there, the first episode unfolds as a meditative journey of sorts. It explores the idea of a young person struggling to know how to take responsibility for his little brother and how to make the wisest choices in this suddenly tense, dramatic and emotional situation.

The answers to initial challenges may seem pretty self-evident to an adult, but the game does a great job of filtering your decisions through the perspective of a terrified 16-year-old. And that alone makes this game an emotional experience.

That said, though this is a game about lost and wandering kids, it's not a game for kids. Life Is Strange 2 is filled to the brim with foul language that includes f- and s-words, profane misuses of God's name and all manner of other crudities. Underage drinking and drug use are seemingly condoned by a parent. We hear some crude discussions of sexuality. And we see people die in lightly bloody but sometimes brutal ways. We also witness a teen being punched and bloodied by an adult.

On top of that, some gamers may find this game's social and racial point of view similarly disturbing. The gamemakers definitely have a political agenda to promote here, but they do so in a way that often feels quite one-dimensionally stereotypical and ham-fisted. And that's to the detriment of anyone who might want a more thoughtful and nuanced take on the important cultural issues in play.

It's yet to be seen where this M-rated gaming journey will ultimately tread. But this first installment of Life Is Strange 2 includes some rocky roads that I suspect even Robert Frost would choose to avoid.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range







Record Label


Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac


Square Enix


September 27, 2018

On Video

Year Published



Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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