I’ve come to regard the four main games in the Life Is Strange franchise as kind of like the siblings in a big family. There’s the eldest, who will always be heaped with praise because no matter what the others achieve, she did it all first. Her twin is always keen to remind you that even though she’s the younger and perhaps not quite as accomplished half of the duo, she’s more charismatic and less coy about who she is and what she wants. Then there’s the youngest, who’s extremely likeable, in large part because she’s learned what behaviors to avoid just by watching the others make mistakes; even if she’s modeled herself on the eldest a bit too closely in her quest for approval, and so hasn’t really forged her own identity.
Then there’s Life Is Strange 2: the awkward middle child. Still very recognisably a member of the family, but the one that stands out in all the photos because he’s just a bit gawky. He’s experimented a lot with his storytelling and plotline in an attempt to make himself stand out, and it’s only sort-of worked. His romantic subplots are underdeveloped, his villains are one-dimensional, and his attempt at tackling a Very Serious Issue has grown in all crooked.
Of course a mother loves all of her children equally in their own special ways. (It seems in this analogy I have become the mum to this series of video games, which is quite weird. I mean, I didn’t work on them, I’ve just played them a bunch. Maybe I’m some kind of foster-parent? Whatever, let’s just roll with it.) Anyway, the point is that I genuinely do love all of these games dearly; but three margaritas in, I might be heard to admit that LIS2 could be objectively regarded as my least favorite.
The thing is though, because he’s the problem child, I may actually spend the most time and energy on him. His protagonist is one of my all-time favorite video game characters, and what that poor boy goes through never fails to tug at my heartstrings. His deuteragonist is a quite annoying example of video game kids being the worst, but his supporting cast are rather well-observed if sadly under-utilised. He has the best soundtrack, in my opinion, even though his sisters put up some extremely stiff competition in that area (well done, son!). His final episode never fails to make me very, very angry, which to be fair is what I’m sure the developers intended, but I still regard the ending(s) as a bad fumble of the subject matter.
So, our relationship is complicated. LIS2 is all over the place, frankly, but I still love him. I’m sure that I can help with his problems if we just work on them together, I tell myself as I begin yet another playthrough.