With Episode 3 in the Life is Strange 2 saga ending on such an exciting cliffhanger it was always going to be interesting to see what happens to the Diaz brothers in this next, and penultimate episode; would the story continue on such an interesting trajectory or dip again into the lows of previous episodes?
The story starts with Sean, the older brother, injured in a hospital bed in Humboldt County, California. We know that he has been there a while – and has no idea where his younger brother Daniel is. Sean is also facing a transfer to a young detention center, accused of the murder of the police officer that started the brothers’ life on the run all the way back at the start of Episode 1. Desperate to find his sibling, he decides to make his escape. The rest of the episode focuses mainly on Sean’s solo journey across the Nevada desert, where you will have to make some difficult decisions in order to survive. This change in location and break from Daniel (who was starting to get rather annoying in the last episode) makes a welcome change.
The second half of the story sees Sean desperately trying to convince his brother to come with him to Mexico. The title of the episode – Faith – is a clue to the situation Sean finds Daniel in. It also hints towards a decision that Daniel needs to make – does he still have faith in his brother’s love and promise of a better life, or does he choose to stay put in, what he thinks, is stability and safety?
The good news is that Episode 4: Faith is definitely a notch up and manages to keep interest levels piqued throughout. I felt that the previous episode (apart from the end, at least) was more about developing the relationship between the brothers, which I now see was needed to explain Sean’s desperate hunt for Daniel for a chance of redemption and Daniel’s reluctance to go with him. But my gripe was it could have been done with a more interesting storyline.
However, in Faith, Life is Strange 2 makes its own redemption of sorts. The plot flows well, starting with a daring escape, and adding in some peril where you have to try and keep Sean safe as he travels across the desert. You also get to do some detective work, helping Sean to locate Daniel and collect evidence to convince him that the situation he finds himself in may not be as safe as he thinks. Add in some bigger decisions involving repairing old relationships and you have got an episode that is well worth playing. I also noticed that there were fewer extraneous people to talk to and objects to study and read, which certainly helps the story to move forward at a faster pace. Most of the cutscenes add to the story rather than distract too, and for once at no point did I really mind having to sit through them – that in itself is a definite step-up from the last episode.
You can add other positives that are something of a given in Life is Strange games – an atmospheric soundtrack, excellent voice-acting and stunning visuals. But sitting here now, after taking in multiple entries into the universe, I don’t feel I need to go into too much depth with those.
As with the other episodes of Life is Strange 2 on Xbox One, when you finish the game you get to see all the decisions you made along with all other possible ones. This may motivate you to have another go and try and get a different outcome. The good news is that this is possible because you have the option to play through individual chapters to find collectibles and/or choose different options. However, each chapter is quite lengthy and even with the option to skip the cutscenes you can’t jump past any actual gameplay or long conversations. This means that to see the outcomes of all the options it will take you several more hours of going through the same motions and listening to the same old dialogue. Having the option to skip dialogue to the next decision would make this feature much more playable and enjoyable.
With only one big decision to make regarding Daniel’s powers, the magic is still an important part of the storyline in Life is Strange 2 Episode 4, just it is seemingly taking a backseat for now. This leads me to believe that it’ll all make an important comeback in the next, and final episode. And it will be here where we will finally see if the brothers get to have the happy ending they deserve.