THIS WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 1 OF LIFE IS STRANGE 2. IT WILL NOT CONTAIN MAJOR SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 2, BUT IT WILL CONTAIN REFERENCES TO EVENTS THAT HAPPEN EARLY IN THE EPISODE.
Life is Strange 2: Episode 2: Rules sees the continuing adventures of Sean and Daniel Diaz, the brothers from the first episode, as they continue to survive on the run. The first episode was an expedition into the divisive state of America in the run up to the 2016 General Election, touching heavily on racism. The second episode takes its foot off that particular pedal, and in general the second episode is scaled back in terms of scenes and characters.
This is definitely not a bad thing because that first episode was a lot. We didn’t get to learn much about our protagonists because the only consistent interactions we really got from the first episode were between the brothers. In this second episode, the Diaz brothers find themselves travelling less and the threat present in the first episode is lessened - but it is still there.
The majority of the events take place in Beaver Creek, Oregon - if the name of this small town sounds familiar that probably means you’ve played The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit - the Life is Strange 2 free prequel. If that doesn’t sound familiar, go and play TAAoCS before playing this episode - the events are directly related and provide a lot of context for some of the events of this episode.
The animation also looked a lot tidier this time around, with the facial animation issues I had with the first episode not making a return. The additional four months of development time have smoothed out a lot of the small niggles the first episode had, and I certainly think this is the strongest a LiS game has been technically. The voice acting is great, and I think even the lip syncing is tighter in this second episode.
The supernatural aspect of Life is Strange features a bit more heavily in this episode. As we discover slowly throughout the first episode, younger brother Daniel has some extreme telekinesis powers which had previously only flared up during emotional outbursts. The second episode opens with Sean helping Daniel learn to control his powers, and puts into effect some rules - hence the name of this episode.
Again, the storytelling is where Life is Strange 2 is strongest, and Dontnod have created a clever alternative to the branching narrative design style. Instead of having your decisions only slightly influence the overall story, almost every interaction affects how Daniel behaves. I didn’t even realise how much you can change Daniel’s actions until the end where the game lists all of the alternate options I could have seen - it’s extensive, but doesn’t ultimately change the overall narrative much.
I’m enjoying Life is Strange 2 so far, and I’m excited for the remaining episodes. As with the previous game, I expect events will step-up in pace and intensity with the release of the third episode. I only hope that there is less time between episodes moving forward, as the four months between release of episodes one and two is a little long if Dontnod wants players to remain invested in their story.
Life is Strange 2 (Reviewed on Windows)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
Technically superior to the previous episode, and a strong second entry to the Diaz boys’ saga.