Life is Strange 2 asserts that games are ready to expose and interrogate the wounds left on our country by institutional racism, a contentious government and steadfast ideological differences. One episode in, season two seems ready for the job.
Quantic Dream has mastered making a very playable, even enjoyable interactive experience. But there's always this performative feeling behind it — always this reminder that, for as much as someone wants to help out a cause, there's a difference between saying it and doing it.
That story stops in a beautiful place at Episode One's end: a cliffhanger that makes me want Episode Two, stat. I'm a little nervous about having to deal with more of Chloe's pop-punk-esque "I'm not OK" pontificating. But based on what I've seen from Before the Storm's premiere, I'm willing to tough it out alongside her, and Rachel, and the rest of Arcadia Bay.
I continue to think of Tacoma as a story first, but it's more than that, clearly: It's an interactive experience, and that plays for and against it. The story is built out of the playback mechanic, which gives birth to the subtler suggestions of what's really going on with this station. But the playback system means there's a lot of talking to listen to, and a lot of wireframes to stare at. For a game about an abandoned space station, Tacoma gave me plenty of company. But the moments where I had to reckon with being alone in space were the ones that stuck with me.
Yet with little actual challenge to speak of, Ever Oasis doesn't have much going for it. There aren't any tricky enemies to ward off, and the town-building simulation is shallow. It's the combination of several other genres whose best games are far, far, far more worth playing than this one. In its attempt to crib from the best, Ever Oasis never establishes its own identity.
For better and worse, We Are Chicago dares to spend as much time on life's tinier moments as its most dramatic ones. That balance isn't always maintained successfully: Blunt dialogue often undercuts the power of otherwise understated scenes. But the combination of the two still gave me a broader, better perspective of what life is really like on the South Side.