Video Game Review: Life is Strange 2, Episode 4
Insert pirate joke here.
Please note that since each episode of Life is Strange 2 features the same graphics engine and control setup, those elements will not be repeated in our reviews for the final four episodes. To read our complete thoughts on that, refer to our review of Episode 1, Roads.
The third episode of Life is Strange 2 ended with a massive cliffhanger. The fourth episode, Faith, picks up soon after the scenario. For players, the biggest difference is that while most of the journey across previous episodes saw Sean and Daniel together, this episode begins with them separated, along with Sean being badly injured. Sean’s now missing an eye, which affects his depth perception, and that fact is addressed during various gameplay aspects.
This change in dynamic alters how you play the game. In previous episodes, your choices — and how they affected your younger brother — were a constant cloud lingering over practically every action. Did you teach Daniel to be a practical survivor? Did you teach him empathy at all costs? Did you teach him aggression, sacrifice, and other traits?
With Daniel gone, Sean goes on the road himself, and this creates some pacing issues. Previously, the empty spaces provided opportunities to focus on brotherly bonds, allowing you to indulge in as much or as little as you wanted. Those moments still exist here, but they feel like they are less valuable, and while that may thematically play into the meaning of the episode, it doesn’t make for the most effective means of gameplay.
Daniel, by the way, is also affected without Sean as his guide through life, and he winds up with a religious cult. Supporting characters get significant screen time, and while this allows for a different dynamic for Sean, it ultimately just isn’t as effective as his time being a big brother.
This element allows Life is Strange 2 to explore a number of things involving bigotry, trust, and faith (thus, the title). When it goes there, it goes hard and unflinching, creating some of the most effective exploration of these themes seen in a video game narrative.
The problem with Faith is that these moments are punctuations across an episode that sometimes doesn’t know where it’s going, literally and figuratively. It works and it doesn’t, and while the Dontnod team deserves credit for trying to shake up the formula a bit with its penultimate effort, the fact that the series has been built around the Sean/Daniel relationship means that when it’s not there, it’s glaring.
While deserving points for trying to shake things up, Faith is an uneven mix of wonderful individual character moments, awkward empty spaces, and brutal discussions of significant topics. Ultimately, though, it never adds up to more than the sum of its parts.