I can't remember the last time tears overtook me after playing through part of a video game. Perhaps the only time I cried real tears was when Aeris died in Final Fantasy VII when I played it for the first time. That's why I was so taken aback when something I anticipated happening and tried to mentally prepare myself for finally did in a preview build of Life is Strange 2.
Life is Strange 2, as you may already know, doesn't follow Max Caulfield or Chloe Price (or even the irritating Rachel Amber) from the first game and prequel. It's not an adventure focusing on the family introduced in The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, either. Instead, it introduces two new characters: Sean and Daniel Diaz, two brothers working together to face seemingly insurmountable odds. They must leave their home following a tragedy that befalls them, and they don't know if life will ever be the same again.
Sitting in a hotel suite at a PC playing through a small slice of the game under the watchful eyes of some of the game's writers and developers, I got to know the brothers Diaz a bit better after the brief presentation I watched, courtesy of Square Enix. Beginning with a short introduction to their plight as they made their way down the highway scavenging for food, the experience ended after a brief scene highlighting the importance of how older brother Sean will have to ensure he takes care of his brother the best he can, down to the decisions Daniel makes.
For instance, Daniel asks if he can eat a particular berry found along a trail in the woods, which Sean can test for him first to see if it's poisonous. With Sean able to wander off on his own, players will need to keep his well-being in mind at all times. I didn't get to play through these parts, but they offered additional choice and layers beyond the typical adventure game tropes presented throughout the other Life is Strange stories. I'm eager to see how they play out going forward.
The demo I played through had to be what I surmised were the first few opening moments of the game, introducing Sean and Daniel and their father. Your first decision is whether or not you should let Sean's father Esteban or Daniel have the last chocolate bar from the cupboard -- Daniel's favorite, who chows down on them all the time. In the end no matter which choice you pick, Sean's father lets Daniel have the chocolate bar, immediately setting the stage for him to be a kind and caring dad in the wake of the family's mother no longer being around.
The family dynamic is clear: Dad is an easygoing sort who isn't afraid to chat with his sons if they need something. At the beginning of the game, Sean is looking to go to a party later that night, and he needs money and supplies. He finds supplies he needs while looking around the house, but he needs cash from Dad.
Chatting with Esteban is one of the most interesting parts of the demo. Unfortunately, the game continues the Life is Strange tradition of having its adolescent characters' families on the road to becoming tryhards with how much beer they drink and weed they smoke (which I was disappointed to see). Esteban is a kind man and lets Sean either lie to him that he's going to buy things he shouldn't, or tell the truth. I couldn't bear to lie to this kind man, especially since that's all Chloe Price seemed to do with her family – that or treat her stepfather like a criminal, but that's another story entirely.
Esteban responded by giving Sean some money and imparting some wisdom to him. No one's father would have been that cool about the situation, but I saw just what a caring father he was, which made the rest of the demo such a bummer. Along the way I was introduced to Sean's "best friend" Lyla, who will almost undoubtedly morph into a potential love interest over Sean's crush Jenn Murphy, as she played the "guy's girl" who mirrored all the interactions I've ever had with my own best friends. I'm hoping the writers don't go down that rabbit hole and instead give Sean a chance with Jenn instead since that's where the story is currently poised to go, but we'll see.
While Sean is chatting with Lyla on Skype about the big party, Daniel wants to show him his Halloween makeup and costume, and keeps coming in to bug the two. Sean reacts in what I can only describe as an immature manner for being the big brother, which I understand the frustration and all, but had he simply paid attention for a moment he could have gotten back to his conversation without losing his cool at his little brother.
Daniel goes outside to play in his Halloween getup, and a series of events occur that end up having Daniel spilling paint and supplies all over an older kid outside. That's where things get tense. You can run outside in the middle of talking to Lyla and confront the bully, who's making fun of Daniel and saying some pretty awful things, like the the pair should go back to their own country. The altercation heightens from there, and Sean and the bully end up in a fistfight. Except...things get a little out of control from there. The police show up. Sean and Daniel's father get involved. And then shots ring out.
You might be able to guess what happens next, though of the sake of avoiding spoilers, I won't go ahead and put it out there. This is when the tears started falling. I found myself wiping my eyes, hoping no one saw me in the room for some reason. I'm not sure why I was so afraid of them seeing me being so touched, especially since I told the developers I had done so when we spoke after the demo.
You can see the demo in its entirety above, if you're interested in seeing everything play out. After the brief playthrough, I knew I was ready to get to know Sean and Daniel, and I can't wait to do so. Life is Strange 2's first episode releases September 27 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.