Life is Strange 2 features none of the characters or settings of its predecessor. Its new hero, a 17-year-old Mexican-American boy named Sean Diaz, does not have a decision-reversing time-travel ability like Max Caulfield. But the moment an acoustic guitar begins delicately strumming over the sun-kissed title screen, it is unmistakable what you are playing. This may be an unfamiliar story among fresh faces and unknown locales, but in every other way this is Life is Strange.
This four-hour episode — the first of five — introduces us to a bigger, more complex story than was told by either the original Life is Strange or its prequel Before the Storm. That coming-of-age story concerns the fraught relationship of a pair of high school girls against a backdrop of an impending natural disaster — but its action is confined to the classrooms and bedrooms of small-town Arcadia Bay, Oregon. Life is Strange 2 is in every way a more elaborate affair: its action sprawls out from Seattle to the woods of Oregon and still farther afield, giving it the feel of a road movie in game form. It aspires to realize nothing less than an unsparingly critical portrait of the United States in the era of Donald Trump.