During Nintendo’s E3 presentation last year, it announced that not only would the Nintendo Switch be getting Life is Strange: True Colors, but also the Life is Strange Remastered Collection, a fancy updated bundle containing the first game and the Before the Storm prequel. This announcement was made via an animated trailer of the first game’s main duo of Max and Chloe sitting together on a moving train, staring out as the world passes them by, before shortly being joined by Alex, the new protagonist for True Colors, who they welcome with beaming smiles.
This is the closest fans will ever get to a proper inter-series crossover and, while brief, there’s something heart-warming and beautiful seeing these three together in a near-perfect picturesque moment of serenity. And yet there were two very blatant Sean and Daniel Diaz shaped holes missing. Despite being the stars of Life is Strange 2, the two brothers were nowhere to be seen.
The reason for this is obvious: Life is Strange 2 isn’t being re-released or remastered for the Switch or any other platforms (as far as we know), but it really should. The brothers’ omission from that lovely animated trailer almost creates the (albeit unintentional) impression that Life is Strange 2 is an outlier; a weak point in the series not worth experiencing for newcomers. Anyone who has played Life is Strange 2 knows that is not the case at all and the game is just as deserving of a remaster as Max and Chloe’s adventures.
This article contains spoilers for Life is Strange 2, Episode 1.
The Tale of the Two Wolf Brothers
At its core, Life is Strange 2 is not that much fundamentally different from the first game, at least from a gameplay perspective. It is still a narrative-driven adventure game reminiscent of classic point-and-click games. What defines Life is Strange 2 and makes it worth experiencing is the story itself. Again, it’s not too dissimilar to the first game, telling a tale that’s primarily focused on human drama but influenced by one supernatural element: mysterious superpowers (in this instance, Daniel’s telekinesis).
However, that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Rather than just rehash another high school mystery for the protagonists to solve, Sean and Daniel’s adventure is a harrowing road trip to Mexico that pushes the brothers to their limit and forces them to change who they are to adapt and ultimately survive. Not to mention that you don’t play the one with powers this time. As Sean, it's up to you to guide how Daniel uses his powers, and that relationship is the crux of the entire game. What kind of person Daniel becomes at the end is a result of the advice you give him, the actions you take, and the actions you make him take, making for an extremely different relationship to Max and Chloe’s in more ways than one.
This can result in one of four different endings; one dictated by multiple decisions you’ve made throughout the game as opposed to the binary choice presented at the end of the first game. Plus, all four, while wildly different, feel like natural and satisfying endings to the story you’ve forged, even if some are more tragic than others. Compare this to the first game where one ending was clearly given priority over the other during development. I’m not going to argue that the sequel is inherently better than the first game because of its narrative, but Life is Strange 2 feels more like a story that had to be told given how heart wrenchingly relevant it remains.
The game begins in Seattle in late 2016. Sean and Daniel, respectively 16 and 9, get into an angry, violent dispute with their neighbor who winds up badly injured. A police officer shows up and immediately pulls his gun on them. It’s at this point I should note that Sean and Daniel are biracial, with their father being a Mexican immigrant. Said father comes out of his house to defuse the situation and is tragically gunned down by the clearly inexperienced and jumpy officer. His death triggers Daniel’s powers to emerge, which in turn gets the officer killed, thus prompting Sean and Daniel to go on the run.
This act is frighteningly similar to so many real-world incidents, ones that have mostly gone unnoticed before and since the first episode released in 2018, with some of the more notable ones involving George Floyd and Jacob Blake in 2020. I personally started playing Life is Strange 2 in early 2021, and I vividly remember hearing of an unarmed black man being gunned down by police in America only the week before.
The first Life is Strange was willing to tackle several real-world and relatable topics, but the sequel goes in hard with its political commentary, especially regarding racism. Some of the events Sean and Daniel experience are borderline uncomfortable to watch because they feel so real. The willingness to tackle such themes doesn’t inherently make Life is Strange 2 worth playing in 2022, but its depictions of bigotry are, unfortunately, somewhat timeless. Sean and Daniel’s story remains as hard-hitting and informative now as it did in 2018.
Why Didn't Life is Strange 2 Take Off?
So, how come Life is Strange 2 doesn’t seem to be as talked about or fondly remembered as much as the first game? There’s likely no singular reason, but maybe it simply didn’t resonate as much with audiences. Fans took to Max and Chloe’s friendship/romance almost immediately, to the point where their story even carried on in comic book form, and Chloe’s polarizing nature as a character made her a huge talking point. The sequel lacks any character on a similar level as well as an overt same-sex romance for players to pursue (Sean is bisexual, but that’s an aspect that’s easily missed, and his one male love interest is, in my opinion, incredibly unappealing. The boy can do so much better).
The politics were likely a turn off too for some given how unsubtle they are. The game’s setting is clearly dealing with the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump becoming president; one character straight up says Sean is the reason "we're building that wall" after assuming the boy shoplifted from his gas station, assaulting him, and tying him up in his office in an act blatantly motivated by prejudice. At the time, the game’s bigots were probably seen as unrealistic caricatures, but if the last few years have taught us anything, some people really are defined by their bigotry. Gaps between episodes were also much longer compared to the first game since it doesn’t take place in a single location, meaning the developers had to spend so much time working on new assets for each episode. Some players may have simply dropped off during its run, which in turn may be why True Colors came out as a complete package instead of following a similar, episodic release schedule.
But if anything, this only further justifies treating it to a remaster. Bundle all the episodes together, plus The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit (a demo made to promote the game's release) with all the improvements the Remastered Collection has, and Square Enix has the perfect opportunity to introduce fans to an emotional and thrilling adventure they may have missed the first time around. Everyone knows about Max, Chloe, and Alex. It’s high time just as many knew about Sean and Daniel.