With 2015’s Life is Strange, Square Enix and Dontnod Entertainment introduced a normalized depiction of young, bisexual women to a mainstream audience. The episodic series was more than the story of teen girls exploring their budding sexuality, at least in its first season; Life is Strange became emblematic of the turning tide toward giving unconventional gaming heroes the floor.
Life is Strange 2 is continuing that trend, even if it seems disappointing on first glance. Gone are the bisexual female leads; we have yet to see a high school setting that comes with a cast of recurring characters, each one as blunt as any real-life teen. But what we have instead, based on who we’ve seen thus far, are characters who embody diversity of a different kind: racial diversity.
Our co-stars in Life is Strange 2 are the Diaz brothers, whose story begins when they flee their Seattle suburb after a run-in with the police. Sean and Daniel are at least half-Mexican, and their father is a Mexican native; based off the gameplay preview Square Enix released, it’s hard to ignore that their race doesn’t play a huge factor into what kicks off the game. Consider our current political climate if you don’t immediately get the picture.
Perhaps the reference is subtle, although Life is Strange has never been much for subtlety. Whichever way you look at it, though, Life is Strange 2 is delving into inherently politicized territory. A police officer aiming his weapon at two unarmed boys of color, on the pretext of fake blood on their clothes; that same cop shooting their Mexican father, as he tries to protect his kids, for dubious reasons; these are the kinds of stories we read about in real life often.
The Diaz family is Mexican, but the ethnic diversity continues on from there. Sean’s best friend, Layla, also appears to be of East Asian descent. Life is Strange season one wasn’t completely lacking people of color, especially in its prequel, Before the Storm; but it’s great to see the sequel’s lead characters belonging to another group in need of more media representation. However their story shakes out — and as much as our girls Max and Chloe of the original season will be missed — it’s exciting to see that Dontnod continues to make diversity an integral part of the Life is Strange universe.
Correction: This post originally misnamed the main characters of the original Life is Strange and has been updated.