The third episode of Life is Strange 2 left us with quite the cliff-hanger, leaving players wondering as to the fate of Sean and Daniel. After a couple of more low-key episodes, Dontnod seems ready to amp up the tension and drama in episode 4. Just how well do they deliver?
Note: This review will have spoilers through to the end of Episode 3. There are no spoilers for Episode 4.
Episode 4: Faith starts up two months after the dramatic ending of Episode 3. Sean has lost an eye, and he’s about to be sent to a juvenile detention center since he’s finally recovered from his injuries. Daniel is nowhere to be seen, but Sean discovers a hint on his brother’s whereabouts in his sketchbook and breaks out of the hospital to go and find him.
While I felt Episodes 2 and 3 suffered from a few pacing issues (Episode 2 felt too long for its good, and Episode 3 was short but didn’t have much substance), it feels like Episode 4 has helped Life is Strange 2 regain a sense of where it wants to go, plot-wise. Faith moves at a quick pace, but it also moves with meaning--there isn’t much in the way of meandering conversations, and each interaction is important in moving forward.
Life is Strange 2 also continues to not shy away from difficult subjects. Without going too much into Episode 4’s plot, Sean is placed in increasingly difficult situations that has him increasingly mistrusting of the world around him, and it’s heartbreaking to watch. Most of the episode is spent without Daniel at his side, and we’re treated a more intimate look into Sean’s mindset as a result. Without an impressionable young mind around, we get to see more of Sean as a person, even though it’s intent on reuniting with his little brother above all else.
It does, however, feel like this episode is more on-rails than the other before it. Episodic games tend to focus on the importance of choice, but also often throws those choices away by the end of the game, so this comes as no surprise. But Life is Strange 2 is generally good about hiding how important (or unimportant) these decisions are, with a couple of exceptions.
With Faith, it’s clear that Dontnod wants you to get somewhere, and the seams of the storytelling start to show if you try to make decisions that don’t get Sean where he needs to be. I didn’t want to break out of the hospital at the beginning of the game, and when it was obvious that I had to, I didn’t want to get the friendly nurse involved, but I felt like I was left with no choice. Additionally, the end of the episode feels like there’s no way to change the situation at hand, with your only decision being how you'll remove the threat in your way.
But in the case of episodic games, it’s often less about the journey and more about the destination. It’s fairly often for the middle episodes to have trouble with pacing or railroading, but if the ending sticks the landing, then it’s all worth it.
Episode 4 sets up Life is Strange 2 for a strong landing. Sean and Daniel will finally be reaching the end of their tale, whether it leads to a happy ending or not. Faith is the best episode in Life is Strange 2 since the first and holds the promise of a memorable final episode.
Versions tested: PC
Disclaimer: A copy of this game was provided to RPG Site by the publisher.