Life is Strange 2 Episode 2 Review – The cold, hard road

Platforms:
Playstation 4Xbox OneMicrosoft Windows
Released:
September 27, 2018
Publisher:
Square Enix
Developer:
Dontnod Entertainment

Review

Life is Strange 2 Episode 2: Rules had a quick release date announce and then drop, and somewhat caught fans by surprise. After a few months in limbo waiting for a release date, anticipation had been slowly building to see where the story of Sean and Daniel Diaz would go. From the alpine forests of Washington state in episode 1, episode 2 ventures into the snowy winter region of Oregon, where the fugitive brothers have been hiding; training Daniel to control his newly awakened abilities and learning to survive while on the run.

Episode 2 ties in with the free demo The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, so it is highly recommended players jump in and experience that first. I did prior to playing Episode 2, and having that background greatly enriched some of the story experiences.

Need a refresher on where the story started? Check out my review of Episode 1: Roads here.

The strength of Life is Strange 2, as a whole, is the relationship between Sean and Daniel. Whether you make the harsher, more “fatherly” choices or the friendlier, “brotherly” choices, interactions between the two are emotional, often humorous, and just plain wholesome. The more I play, the less the shadow of Max and Chloe from the original looms over the experience, and this is a great benefit to Life is Strange 2.

While Max’s time manipulation played a large role in Life is Strange, Daniel’s telekinetic abilities have, so far, played second fiddle to the political overtones of Life is Strange 2. Thankfully, ‘Rules’ implements many instances where Daniel can flex his special powers in both story-altering and minor ways.

Early on, Sean is given the tough choice of letting Daniel’s rage fly free and take revenge on a puma who’s … let’s say… emotionally traumatized Daniel. I highlight this example because it plays directly into the players morbid curiosity: I want to see what Daniel can do, but at what cost? Do I choose to end the life of a creature simply to see what these powers are, or do I make the moral choice and reel Daniel’s emotions in?

There are several moments like this scattered through the episode, and certainly sets the stage for many more difficult choices in later chapters.

The brother’s journey eventually finds them at the home of their estranged grandparents (the neighbours from The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit), and we are treated to some much needed family history and context of the Diaz/Reynolds family. Why did their mother leave? What was her upbringing? Are there clues to where she has gone in this house? These are the struggles the Diaz brothers have to face while living in the orthodox Christian household of their grandparents, and while it fleshes out some backstory, it ultimately fails to bait the fish of curiosity enough to want to see this narrative thread resolve.

“…good supporting characters strengthens the platform of Life is Strange 2…”

The introduction of some good supporting characters strengthens the platform of Life is Strange 2, and gives me confidence that by the end of this series we will have bared witness to a strong ensemble cast. In Rules we meet the nomads Finn and Cassidy, struggling alcoholic Charles Erikson and his son Chris (aka Captain Spirit), and Stephen and Claire Reynolds. A narrative adventure is only as good as the characters in it, and after episode 2 I am eager to see where these interactions and loose ends wind up.

Life is Strange 2 Episode 2: Rules is a step in the right direction, and makes the right narrative choices to set the stage for increased drama in future episodes. With the brothers slowly making their way to Mexico, I am eager to see what adventures, challenges, and new friends and foes they may face along the way. The episode concludes with an enticing end-credits stinger to whet the appetite, leaving me to hope Episode 3 is not too far behind.