The release of Life is Strange 2 Episode 5 – Wolves completes Sean and Daniel Diaz’s story, which began more than a year ago back in September 2018. The choices you have made over the course of the game (and indeed in Life is Strange 1 if you also played this) will have a major influence over how their epic journey ends. Did you encourage or prevent Daniel using his powers? How well did you nurture him as he grew from a young innocent to a boy on the verge of adolescence? All these decisions will culminate to influence how they, and in many ways your story, end in this final episode.
The story picks up in Arizona, where the brothers have been living in a peaceful trailer community with their mother. They have had seven weeks to recuperate and restore their relationship with each other, and their mother, and have had a chance to almost forget the fact that they are on the run from the law. However, the law is catching up with them and they have to face the fact that they must now complete their journey and head to Mexico. This episode is short, with much of it taken up with tying up the narrative, and building upon the empathy you will have garnered for the brothers. There are a few minigames – for example a fun treasure hunt – but for the main the episode starts slowly, with more time being spent with conversations rather than action. A character from Life is Strange 1 makes a cameo appearance, which is a nice touch as it also completes the narrative arc of that game, which finished with a lot of loose ends. If you have played it, you will know that you had to make a huge decision at the end – the consequences of which are revealed at the end of this episode.
Once the brothers make their goodbyes to their mother, new friends and the country of their birth and head to Mexico, the game ramps up the action and the adrenaline. It is at this point that you see Sean start to question his decision about leaving the US. Here I really appreciated how well crafted the story is, maybe for the first time in this episode. The writers cleverly weave several strands of the story together – a young man’s emotional maturation, the political tension in the US, and the issues surrounding immigration. And for once I didn’t mind listening to the conversations between the characters, I actually enjoyed it as they really did play out like scenes in a movie – with waves of pace and emotions; a series of fast-paced sequences followed by quiet, reflective dialogue, then back to adrenaline-pumping action.
The final showdown found in Life is Strange 2 is what we have all been waiting for, and it does not disappoint. And, of course, you get to see how the brothers’ lives end up – was it the utopian life in Mexico they were wishing for, full of days on the beach and as many bowls of choc-o-crisps as they wanted? Of course, the best thing about this game is that your decisions – not just in this game but over the entire year you have played it – will have influenced this, as there are multiple endings.
One key feature that exists in every episode is the option to replay chapters once you have competed the episode. One minor gripe I had about previous episodes was that you were unable to skip lengthy dialogue-packed scenes to get to the good stuff. The developers have changed this, so for this final episode you can skip certain cinematic parts on a completed episode. This definitely makes replaying sections of the game to see different outcomes more enjoyable. I decided to replay the ending to see what happens, and got a different conclusion. However, I could see that decisions I had made throughout the game, and the type of relationship I had ensured Sean had built with Daniel, meant that some of the alternative endings were not available. So, I guess the only option to really play a different story is to start again from Episode 1 – not something I am planning on doing. But at least the option is there for die-hard fans.
Also, throughout the game there is the option to take a look in Sean’s backpack which contains items that add to the lore of the game, including his diary so you can remind yourself of what happened in previous episodes, and a map which shows the route their journey has taken from the start.
Now that Life is Strange 2 Episode 5 – Wolves on Xbox One marks the end of Life is Strange 2, it would be an ideal time to reflect on the game as a whole. For me it is one of highs and lows, with particular episodes being the low point. However, with any good story you have to expect the slow-paced, character driven chapters to appreciate the more exciting ones and drive the narrative. Seeing how Sean and Daniel’s relationship changed and building our empathy with them was a vital element to the game, and ultimately one for making the player care about how their story ended. One key question as the game concludes is: are we going to see more of the Diaz brothers in a Life is Strange 3? I for one would love to see a continuation of their story.