Given the critical and commercial success enjoyed by Life is Strange back in 2015, creating a compelling direct sequel can’t have been easy for developer Dontnod. Yet just three years later, players were surprised with a brand new story that was every bit as emotionally affecting as the first, if not more so. It boasts a plot that was both intimate yet grand in scope, taking two core protagonists on a road trip from hell after a tragedy tears them from their comfortable home life. In 2023, though, as the last main part of the Life is Strange puzzle to come to Switch, does the game still hold up? Well, yes… mostly.
Life is Strange 2 for the Switch contains all five episodes that were originally released over a staggered period of time back in 2019, as you would hope. Each episode will last you a couple of hours or so, so you’re looking at roughly 10-12 hours to complete the whole package, give or take. It uses that time pretty effectively, using the episodic structure to maintain a decent sense of pace throughout.
As mentioned, the story focuses on Sean Diaz and Daniel Diaz, two brothers who live an altogether normal life in the suburbs of Seattle. After a brief introductory segment, a tragedy strikes which drives the siblings away from their home while simultaneously revealing to the player the latent kinetic powers that the younger brother Daniel appears to be harbouring. It’s a strong opening that communicates well the stark contrast between life before and after the events that send the brothers on the long and winding road.
From there, Daniel and Sean cross down from Washington to the state of Oregon, meeting a host of characters both friendly and sinister along the way. Overall, the narrative is markedly stronger than that of Life is Strange and Before the Storm, showcasing scenes that are filled with action and tension while balancing this nicely with moments of quiet reflection. It helps that the player isn’t locked into one core location (that being Arcadia Bay from the first game) too, instead moving from one area to the next without pausing for too long in one spot.
In terms of gameplay, Life is Strange 2 plays almost exactly like its predecessor, for better or worse. In true adventure game fashion, the gameplay segments mostly require you to navigate around a small area and interact with the objects littered about the environment. It’s simple and there’s little real challenge involved here, but we do wish that Dontnod showed a bit of restraint with the sheer amount of objects you can interact with.
It’s borderline absurd in some areas: you can pick up some fresh sheets, look at the TV, turn on a tap, switch on a light, throw a rock, sketch the room… We could go on. We admire the ambition here, but we wish the devs gave players a bit more guidance as to which items you actually need to interact with in order to advance the story, rather than relying on trial and error.
Where the game really shines is in the multitude of dialogue choices that it presents to you throughout. These range from the benign to the life-altering, and it’s a true joy to go back and see exactly how the story changes if you opt for a different branch. At the end of each episode, Life is Strange 2 also gives you a breakdown of your key choices during the experience, which serves as a nice reminder if anything happens to slip your mind at a later point.
Looking at the overall presentation on Switch, the game is a noticeable improvement over the Arcadia Bay Collection, but still not quite on par with True Colors. Initial load times are still ridiculous, lasting for upwards of a full minute, but thankfully the game handles scene transitions a bit better, making for a largely seamless experience once you’ve got it all booted up for the first time. Visuals are pleasant, for the most part, with particular attention paid to the character designs and animations, though the environments suffer from a lack of detail, particularly in more natural areas like forests or seafronts. It’s to be expected, we suppose, but it’s at least not quite as jarring as the Arcadia Bay Collection.
Frame rate is largely the same as the prior Switch games in the series, remaining stable for the most part, yet certainly nothing to write home about. The audio is excellent, too, including exceptional voice acting (bar a few understandably grating outbursts from the younger Diaz sibling) and excellent use of music throughout. All in all, if the Switch is the only way you’re able to play Life is Strange 2, then you’re going to get a pretty solid experience out of it from a technical standpoint.
Life is Strange 2 is a worthy entry in the narrative series that improves upon the first game in meaningful ways with a story that's both thrilling and emotional. The gameplay hasn't changed much and we'd argue that some areas have a few too many objects to interact with, but the dialogue choices remain just as fun as ever. Bar some annoying load times on Switch and some visual hiccups, Life is Strange 2 is definitely worth picking up if you're a fan of narrative adventures.
This one is my favorite out of all the LIS games.
I wish I could enjoy the Life is Strange games more as I like the concept, but I just find most of the characters in them to be obnoxious and insufferable which ruins them for me (especially True Colours!) I preferred Tell Me Why on Xbox by the same developer as I actually found the protagonists likeable and less pretentious.
This one didn't stick with me as well as the others did, but I'd still give it a big recommend.
The game is my least favourite LIS because left wing politics are being pushed right in my face, and not to mention the annoying preaching.
@MrHonest I truly don’t understand why people have to put stuff in a political corner if they don’t like something.
That and the fact people care about politics (to such degree) at all.
Not a fan of these games for a different reason, but I don’t think it is fair to put stuff in a political perspective either, feels very american thing to do.
@Clyde_Radcliffe I've never played these games but this is kind of the vibe I got from back when they were still new games and there was a lot of hype around them. I like narrative games, but just looking at small excerpts and short gameplay videos gave me slight annoyances with how the characters act. I wonder if I'd change my mind actually playing them, but there's too many other games in the backlog with more interesting looking stories to take that risk for now.
@Rayquaza2510 nice stereotyping.
I’ve got two t-shirts for this game. Really loved it when I played it a few years ago. I like all the LiS games, but the brothers’ story is something special, and, even if the game may be the most inconsistent in the series, it’s probably my favorite.
Blows my mind that LiS2 and LiS True Colors made a successful transition to the Switch. Meanwhile LiS1 and LiS Before the Storm - both older games - suffer on the Switch.
Ah yes the worst of the series, just nonsensical.
@MrHonest Oh no, equity, liberty and actual freedom, how horrible! 😜
I think Nintendolife should make mention of the very large download size of over 26GB for this game as this will have an impact on people like myself buying it as it’s digital only.
@MrHonest respect of the elementary human rights goes beyond the American political spectrum.
Isn’t this one the least favorite? Like the little brother is annoying or something?
I love the ignore feature
I've only managed to finished True Colors and Tell Me Why and I really didn't love either of them. I feel kinda tricked by people into trying them, but based on scores for them, I think Life is Strange 1 is the one I should try if I really wanna give them one final shot at liking them.
@EaglyTheKawaiiShika It's fairly divisive among the fanbase, with some saying it's too different and doesn't have enough of what made them love the other entries in the series so they just couldn't get into it. The ones who do love it though REALLY love it and often say it's the best of the bunch because of how personally the story resonates with them. Just depends on what you like about the series honestly
@tabris95 okay makes sense. It just deviates but if you like how it deviates this will bw your favorite
@Friscobay Or maybe people doesn’t want politics showed down in their throats just because left wingers want to virtue signaling? Lol please.
@EVIL-C In that case maybe left winger should quiet about their annoying politics?
@Rayquaza2510 in this case it’s fair to put the game in political corner since developers had to push politics in people’s throats.
@MrHonest I suggest you to buy a building simulator of the border wall instead. To each their own unfortunately.
@MrHonest everything can be political if people look for reasons to put it there.
Even a discussion about japanese versus french mayonnaise could end up political if one really wants to.
That makes it so silly people keep doing that, especially with stuff they dislike.
But oh well… just my two cents for not being such a person, much healthier to look at stuff the way they really are, and not to try putting them in a corner they don’t belong in.
@Rayquaza2510 in this case the politics get thrown in people’s face. It is certainly not subtle or nuance.
@Friscobay nah i rather want the identity politics out of entertainment. No more woke garbage.
Life is Strange 2 is my least favorite game in the franchise. It has a plodding, drawn-out story, boring characters, an over-the-top caricature of racism at one point, and a weird, unrealistic friendly character at another point. There are moments when the game shines, but they're too few and way too far between. I would give the game just in general (not a particular version) a 5 out of 10.
Tap here to load 26 comments
Leave A Comment
Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...