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Many of the decisions we make in choice-driven games boil down to selfish outcomes; we want to get the best rewards, or spark romance with our favorite love interests. Having that kind of agency is fun, but Life is Strange 2 takes a different approach. It adds dimension by putting another character’s needs before your own. Sean and Daniel Diaz are two young brothers on the run, and developer Dontnod tells an emotional tale about the connection between them, all while encouraging players (as Sean) to see choices in terms of what they mean for nine-year-old Daniel.
The bond between the Diaz brothers is the most consistently compelling element of Life is Strange 2. Unlike similar dynamics in other narrative games (like Lee and Clementine in The Walking Dead), Sean isn’t just protecting Daniel from danger. You are simultaneously shaping a relationship with him and setting examples for him to follow. This last point is important, because Daniel has mysterious telekinetic powers, and how he uses them – or doesn’t – depends largely on Sean’s guidance. For instance, if you let him use his ability to kill a dangerous animal instead of scaring it off, that may solve an immediate problem – but you have to wonder what it teaches him about how to use his gift in the future. Can he recognize the boundary between killing an animal and a person? Daniel looks up to Sean, and moments like these effectively keep that fact in the forefront of players’ minds. I like how this made me view my choices less in terms of optimizing certain story results, and more in terms of helping Daniel learn right from wrong.Click here to watch embedded media
Your interactions in these situations have interesting consequences, because you aren’t determining Sean’s actions alone. You are also influencing how Daniel might react later. At one point, I told Daniel to be honest with another character about his power, as opposed to keeping it a secret. Because of the guidance I had given him in previous instances, he listened to me and obeyed. But Daniel can also disobey depending on the example you’ve set, so your decision at any fork in the road isn’t a guarantee about how the story will unfold. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this ambiguity, but I did; it makes the behind-the-scenes flowchart of outcomes less apparent, allowing you to focus more on how you think the characters would react.
Life is Strange 2’s gameplay is a simple-but-effective combination of walking around, examining objects, and having conversations with the weirdos you meet along the way. The boys’ ultimate goal is to travel from Seattle to Mexico, but circumstances force them to live off the grid to avoid detection, which puts them in a variety of questionable situations. Over the course of five episodes, Sean and Daniel cross paths with redneck racists, weed farmers, and zealous cultists. I appreciate how these characters represent a variety of perspectives, but some of the encounters feel contrived. Sean and Daniel meet some people at an outdoor market in Oregon, and just happen to reconnect with them riding the rails in California weeks later? The stereotypical depictions of these side characters also stand in contrast to the care taken with Sean and Daniel, though none of them stay in the spotlight long enough to do significant damage to the larger story.
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The writing and performances can feel stilted at times, but even at their worst, Life is Strange 2 retains a core of authenticity that no awkward exchange can erase. Despite imperfect implementation, the game builds a believable rapport between the brothers and made me care about them. I was regularly concerned about their health, whether they got enough to eat, and if they had the freedom to just act like dumb kids sometimes. Forging that connection is crucial for this story to succeed, and the team at Dontnod gets it right.
Episodic games often have gaps of months between installments, but even by those standards, Life is Strange 2 kept fans waiting a long time from one chapter to the next. If you fell off the journey somewhere along the way (or if you were waiting for the tale to conclude, like I was), that is understandable. However, whether you knew it or not, Life is Strange 2 has been quietly weaving a powerful and sincere narrative experience that admirably carries on the series’ legacy.
Summary: Over the last year, Life is Strange 2 has been quietly weaving a powerful and sincere narrative experience that admirably carries on the series’ legacy.
Concept: As the eldest of two brothers on the run, your choices and actions shape the personality of the youngest and determine how he uses his telekinetic gift
Graphics: This entry maintains the series’ signature visual style, but the faces and animations can’t always convey emotions the dialogue seems to require
Sound: A contemplative soundtrack heavy on piano and acoustic guitar sets an appropriate, thoughtful mood
Playability: Straightforward controls make exploration and conversation easy to manage
Entertainment: The Diaz brothers are likable heroes with a believable relationship. Their journey is punctuated by big decisions, surprising consequences, and a satisfying conclusion
And all of the sudden it is December. You should give the gift of telling all your friends how much you love The Game Informer Show and sharing it with high praise on all your social media networks ... or at least that is what I think.
On this week's episode of The Game Informer Show podcast, we explore a wide variety of subjects, so every segment has a surprise. The show starts with Ben Reeves, Jeff Cork, and Matt Miller as we discuss our PlayStation 25th Anniversary cover story, Darksiders Genesis, and Arise: A Simple Story. The entire show is produced by the man in the box, Alex Stadnik (someone asked for his Twitter handle too so you can find it here).
Next, we dive head first into community emails. Joined by Matt Miller, Joe Juba, and Andy Reiner for this week's discussion, which is highlighted by the theme of us becoming the "Lords of Gaming" and making proclamations as to how we would rule. Good times.
For part four of our Game of the Year chats, where I ask guests what games are defining their year, I am joined by Andy Reiner and special guests from The Video Game History Foundation, Frank Cifaldi, and Kelsey Lewin. This segment will run the rest of this year, as we bring in editors (and guests) every week to talk about games that have impacted their year in the lead-up to Game Informer's Top 50 of 2019.
And finally, we chat with Alex Hutchinson, co-founder and creative director at Typhoon Studios. We talk about his history (spoiler alert: he was creative director for Assassin's Creed III and Far Cry 4 among many others) and their upcoming release Journey to the Savage Planet. Always entertaining to chat with Alex.
Thanks for listening! Please make sure to leave feedback below, share the episode if you enjoyed it, and follow me @therealandymc to let me know what you think.
You can watch the video above, subscribe and listen to the audio on iTunes or Google Play, listen on SoundCloud, stream it on Spotify, or download the MP3 at the bottom of the page. Also, be sure to send your questions to [email protected] for a chance to have them answered on the show.
Our thanks to the talented Super Marcato Bros. for The Game Informer Show's intro song. You can hear more of their original tunes and awesome video game music podcast at their website.
To jump to a particular point in the discussion, check out the time stamps below.
00:11 History of PlayStation, Arise: A Simple Story, and Darksiders Genesis
37:18 Community Emails
1:59:28 Game of the Year Chats Pt. 4 - Featuring Frank Cifaldi and Kelsey Lewin from The Video Game History Foundation
2:51:51 Interview with the co-founder and creative director of Typhoon Studios Alex Hutchinson
You get paid in armor upgrades and are always looking for another quest. You are asked to fetch items from dangerous places and to take down foes that threaten towns. These sentences describe a good number of games, but in this instance they summarize The Mandalorian, the weekly live-action Star Wars series on Disney Plus. The first season of The Mandalorian screams “video game,” and could (and should) be used as a blueprint for one.
We’ve been infatuated with the look of Mandalorian armor from the moment Boba Fett first appeared in an animated short in 1978’s abysmal Star Wars Holiday Special, but he didn’t truly win audiences over until he appeared in a lineup of bounty hunters in the 1980 film, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. His sleek and colorful armor, jetpack, rocket, flamethrower, and “no disintegrations” warning from Darth Vader made him an instant fan favorite, even though he didn’t do or say much. We adored him for his look and the belief he was one of the most feared individuals in the galaxy. Thanks to The Mandalorian, we now know more about the armor and what drives the people wearing it. In that same breath, however, Boba Fett’s legacy has faded to a point of obscurity. We have a much cooler Mandalorian to gush over now, and unlike the Fetts, he’s not an imposter – he’s the real deal.
As of this writing, we don’t know his name yet, and there’s a chance we may never see who is under the helmet, but “Mando” as he’s somewhat jokingly called by characters in the show, is written like a video game lead who is on a rags-to-riches journey. He isn’t looking for financial fortunes or to gain power in the galaxy, he just wants better armor. That’s mostly what drives him. Like most game characters, Mando is guided by rare loot, and he’s more than willing to stack missions to get it – even going as far in one of the show’s episodes to say he will take every assignment available from a mission giver. We’ve all done that. Our mission queues are filled with assignments.
Mando’s tasks are stripped from the video game playbook – escort, infiltration, and even being asked to clear out a courtyard of enemies (complete with a turret sequence). In most episodes, Mando takes on a bounty for a specific target and receives a tracking fob to locate this individual. The fob is essentially a beeping waypoint system that leads to a battle, an extraction (alive or dead), and then the reward of some form of currency (yes, the show even has different currency types that a publisher would likely use to drive microtransactions).
The thing Mando wants most as a reward is a rare alloy called Beskar (or Mandalorian Iron) that he can bring to his armorer to forge into a new protective piece. The Mandalorians are prideful and adhere to the ways of their ancestors, and the armor is almost treated like a religion. In the first episode of the show, we learn Mando doesn’t have much Beskar on him, and he’s questing to change that. This motivation alone could be the foundation for the game – take on quests to build a complete armor set. That’s basically Destiny, right?
I’m not throwing shade at Bungie with that comparison. I could see Destiny’s overall design working well for The Mandalorian game: Bounce from planet to planet and explore open environments for bounty targets. It's a concept that would work well for a living game. The developer just has to keep adding bounties.
The show also screams of cooperative play. On two of the episodes, Mando has been joined by fellow bounty hunters to complete his missions. In the game, players wouldn’t just have to be a Mandalorian; they could also be an IG unit or a former Republic shock trooper like Cara Dune. These characters also serve the role of different classes, although the Mandalorian ranks are flush with them, such as heavy infantry like Paz Vizla.You and a friend rolling together.
To further cement the game comparison, many of us have experienced frustration in buying a weapon we think sounds great, only to find it's mostly useless. Mando’s flamethrower fits this role. He continually tries to use it, and it rarely produces results. He needs to upgrade or ditch that thing – I bet we see that happen in future episodes. We’ve already seen him gain a new power in the Whistling Birds mini-missiles. Mando even makes a comment about how he needs to get a jetpack. Level up to get new abilities.
The mission givers he converses with could be used for faction-based play. Do you side with the Empire or the bounty hunter ranks? Did you anger one faction and they put a bounty on your head? I don’t think I need to say any more; the show is a damn video game, and I want to play it. We'll never see LucasArts’ canceled 1313 Boba Fett title, but it seems like we may have a better mold to build from now. Since life isn't fair, we'll probably end up getting a cute Baby Yoda match-three game on mobile instead, but there's no harm in dreaming big and voicing what you think would be a great game.
This is the way.
During Destiny's upcoming Season of Dawn, players will need to stop a council of Cabal Psion Flayers from tinkering with time and reversing their victory against the Red Legion. During this season, players will be able to participate in a couple of different holiday events and unlock two new Exotic weapons.
If you have one of Destiny 2's current season passes, you'll be able to play Sundial, which is a new mode that lets you fight the Niruul boss. In January, the legendary difficulty of Sundial unlocks so players can acquire the Devil’s Run Exotic sidearm.Click here to watch embedded media
Then, on January 28, the Bastion Exotic quest starts, which will let players earn the second exotic weapon of the season. The full season will also see the Elimination PvP mode return as well as a a couple returning PvP maps, and other new quests and bosses. If you're still playing Destiny 2, you should have plenty to do for the next few months.
The publishers for Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics recently announced release dates for both games.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire released last year on PC but will come to Xbox One and PS4 on January 28. A Switch version is to follow soon after.https://twitter.com/vs_evil/status/1202222915472830466
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance releases February 4 on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Switch.https://twitter.com/DCAORtactics/status/1202290706913644544
Excited for these releases? Check out our review of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire and our preview of The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics.
In our latest issue, #321, we ran a preview for Persona 5 Royal hot off its release date announcement. Unfortunately, there was a production error, causing the bullets to display some misinformation. The bullets for another preview in the issue, Persona 5 Scramble, were displayed on Persona 5 Royal. This lists incorrect information, from Omega Force being a developer to it coming to Nintendo Switch. Persona 5 Royal has only been confirmed for PS4, and Atlus is the only developer working on it. We apologize for our error.
We were able to correct this mistake in our digital edition that is now live. Unfortunately, we did not catch it in time for our print subscribers. We wanted to clear the air before it reached your mailboxes.
We hope you enjoy the new issue and seeing more Persona 5 in it.