When a killer from Parker’s past plots a series of murders, it’s up to her and Lane to take him down. Can they finally lock up the killer for good, or will he forever plague the streets?
First let me warn you that there will be spoilers so, for those of you who haven’t played the game and want to go in fresh, you might want to skip to the second to last paragraph. I’m sure those of you who’ve read my review for the first game expect me to trash its sequel as well. However, I have to be honest, I actually enjoyed the sequel. I thought it was a vast improvement. Not only does the game explore Parker’s past, it also has an intriguing villain by the name of Jacob Darkum. Jacob is a man who regularly captures two people important to someone and then calls them to make a choice about which one should live, and which one should die. Years ago, he captured Parker and her brother, Andrew, and then called their dad to ask which one should be spared. That’s right, it is a genuine Sophie’s Choice only, in this case, both Parker and Andrew managed to get away. Unfortunately, not before Parker’s father chooses her over Andrew. This kidnapping left a mental scar on both Parker and Andrew to the point of causing a rift. So, you can imagine that neither one of them are happy to see him back. Unfortunately, they don’t work together to take him down. Andrew and Parker grew more distant after the kidnapping and Andrew was so upset that Jacob manipulated him into framing Parker for the murders she investigates, which I will go into more detail about later.
This game is called Parker and Lane, so Lane does play a pivotal role. Unfortunately, that pivotal role is defending Jacob because, in Lane’s own words, everyone deserves a defense. At first, I thought Lane took the job because he was scared that someone far more amoral could take it who would do everything in their power to set Jacob free. Yet, when Parker finally told Lane about what Jacob did, Lane tries to quit. Unfortunately, that is the point in the game when Jacob kidnaps Parker and even tells Lane that, if he doesn’t win the case, Parker dies. Now this is when a game that should’ve been about Parker becomes about Lane. It’s him going against the morals he formed because of her to set this man free. There are no scenes about where Parker is which some people might say would take away from the mystery. However, it is possible to show Parker in a secret room without revealing where that room is. What’s even more infuriating is that Andrew’s betrayal of her is told more from Lane’s point of view than Parker’s as he is the one to discover Andrew in the secret room.
I’ll admit, it was quite a shock emotionally, but that shock should have been through Parker’s point of view. Parker, after trying too hard to escape, sees Andrew visit her and thinks that he’s here to save her. Then he reveals the exact opposite, talking about how hurt he was and how he wanted revenge. Yet, at the end, Andrew let’s go of his resentment and helps free Parker. The latter does happen, but it would’ve been stronger if we also saw the former. However, instead of reducing Parker to a complete damsel in distress, she’s the one given the choice by Jacob about whether she’ll sacrifice Lane or Andrew. Thanks to Andrew untying Parker, she takes the bullet for both of them. True, she did step in front of Lane but that was only because Jacob pointed the gun right at him. Had the gun been pointed at Andrew, Parker would’ve done the exact same thing.
Despite telling a key moment from the wrong viewpoint, the game does hint at misogyny from the other cops. First, Officer Murray accuses Parker of only getting to where she is because of her father’s position instead of through merit. I’ll admit, this is something that can happen with both men and women but, when Murray dies, the other cops are quick to point the finger at Parker, cops who happen to be men. These men even go as far as to say that Officer Murray, who was an outright jerk, was such a great guy and criticize Parker for being a cold person. They are so determined to villainize her that, when presented with all of the evidence Andrew planted against Parker, they’re practically jumping out of their seats at the chance to arrest her. The only people who believe Parker is innocent are Lane, Stella, and Vasquez. While Lane and Stella might have emotional ties to Parker, Vasquez points out how easily they found the evidence. In his own words, Parker’s too good of a detective to be such a bad criminal. Sure, the other cops don’t say that it’s anything about Parker’s gender, but most misogynists don’t outright declare their misogyny. They make other excuses, ones that sound believable so that, when they’re sexism is pointed out, they can gaslight feminists into thinking that we’re the problem. I once read a review of Atomic Blonde written by a misogynist who didn’t like the film because they didn’t believe that Charlize Theron, despite her character being fully trained, could beat up bad guys because, in their own words, untrained men are stronger than fully trained women. Yet I have yet to see anyone scoff at how John Wick can kill people with a pencil. Thankfully, after Parker risks her life to save Lane, the cops do apologize for their behavior without making a single excuse.
As I said, the villain of this story loves to give sadistic choices. There is no question throughout the game whether or not he’s guilty. Instead, you find yourself questioning how Jacob committed his crimes and how they’re going to bring him to justice. His very first crime started years ago by capturing a young Parker and Andrew, which you get to see throughout the game in separate cutscenes from the game. First, I’d like to say that the animation is excellent as it gives off a Tim Burton feel and adds to the creepy. Next, I would like to explain Jacob’s reasoning behind his twisted crimes. Years ago, Parker’s father arrested Jacob’s parents and put him in a position where he had to choose which one would be brought to justice. Jacob took out his anger on a young Parker and Andrew, giving their father the choice I mentioned earlier. While both Parker and Andrew got away, the emotional scars they experienced never healed. Parker had to put herself on pills to get through one more day and Andrew, horrified that his father chose Parker over him, built up a resentment towards both and became distant from them. Andrew’s resentment was so great that he ended up helping Jacob kidnap and frame Parker, almost costing Parker her job and her life. So, even though Jacob and Andrew both got arrested Jacob, in a way, still won.
The game play is time management, which is rather unusual for a detective game. You get three areas, crime scenes, the lab and the court room. At crime scenes, you play as either Parker or Vasquez. In the lab, you play as Stella. In the court room, you play as Lane. No matter where you are, everything plays out the same. You grab the requested items and take them to the people who need them.
Sometimes, you have to play a mini game to advance through the level. While you can get up to three stars, you need at least one to go to the next level. Though the more stars you get, the more badges you earn which you can spend to level up the characters.
If you’re low on badges, you can play through some cold cases as soon as they unlock which are nothing but mini games. Though, my advice, as soon as the cold cases unlock play those until you can max out every character. Trust me, it’ll make the future levels easier. Each regular level comes with an event where you can earn a diamond and there are extra challenge levels where you can earn three diamonds. As for how you spend these diamonds, you can collect pictures from Parker’s yearbook and learn more about her past.
This game is addictive and intriguing. I give it 9 out of 10; great improvement over the last game but there was a time when it used the wrong viewpoint character. Let me know if you agree with me and feel free to make your own request either in the comments, through email, or through Discord by sending a friend request to suburbantimewaster#8733.