After Life Is Strange and Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, the third game in the franchise, Life Is Strange 2 had a lot to live up to. With two major but unique titles already in the franchise, the direction the next game would take was in question as the series already explored the city of Arcadia Bay with the first two titles.
Life Is Strange 2 separates itself quickly, introducing players to two new main characters, Sean and Daniel Diaz. The Diaz brothers have a nice life in Seattle which is upended by an event where their father and a police officer are killed and they choose to flee to the Mexican town of Puerto Lobos
Life Is Strange 2 also takes a different approach to its story. Where Life Is Strange and Before the Storm both took a look at the life of Max Caulfield following her through a normal progression of her day, Life Is Strange 2 becomes more episodic, not just from the content delivery but from the format of the story.
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The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit was a lead-in to Life is Strange 2. It is designed to be a title that helped promote the new title in the franchise, but also is a standalone title for the majority of it, and is quite well made.
Captain Spirit focuses on a young boy, Chris Eriksen, and his desire to be a superhero, a common dream of young kids, and a relatable one. He imagines himself as Captain Spirit with a band of fellow superheroes who fight against a league of villains.
Of course, this is just a fantasy, and while the trailer hints that Chris Eriksen has some kind of special powers, this doesn’t appear to be the case. Instead, DontNod develops another interesting and unique character and shows why they are revered as great storytellers.
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Life Is Strange was a unique but well-made game that took the Telltale Games’ formula and improved on it to make an amazing experience, but its major accomplishments feel unique to the point that a return to the same game could never live up to the original.
At the same time, prequels can be extremely hard to pull off. It’s worse when the story is the key component of the game, and players already know the results of the character’s arcs. Yet Life Is Strange: Before the Storm is a prequel that tries to do just that and seems to succeed.
Life Is Strange: Before The Storm revolves around Chloe, Max’s friend from the original Life is Strange. In Life Is Strange, Chloe is a punk dropout of a prestigious academy, and much of the game revolves around Chloe and Max. In addition, there’s a missing girl known as Rachel Amber, who is unseen and unknown though Life Is Strange does explore and explain her disappearance.
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Telltale really made the modern “Adventure game” iconic in a number of ways, mostly in how formulaic they are. The Telltale formula is to take a well known IP, and then add a new story to the world with minimal changes and choices that the player will have control over. Players are just along for the ride, and ultimately it’s similar to a storybook.
But whether you pick up the Batman, Walking Dead, or Guardians of the Galaxy, as long as you like the IP, you’ll probably enjoy the journey. If you don’t, well, it might be the wrong game for you.
Dontnod’s entry into the genre is therefore quite odd. Instead of attaching the storybook idea to an IP they instead decided to make their own world and tell a story there. It definitely was a risky venture as having no established IP meant everyone would-be newcomers to the series and trying to make the “storybook” approach interesting to new fans could be challenging.
But it’s only with great risk can great reward be obtained, and I think Dontnod is deserving of a massive reward.
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