Life Is Strange 2, Episode 4 Review

Life Is Strange 2, Episode 4 Review

Life Is Strange 2's penultimate episode is an emotional one.

Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for episodes one through three of Life Is Strange 2 are ahead. Proceed with caution!

Last we left Sean and Daniel, we weren't sure what was left of them. It was the dullest episode of the sequel series so far up until the end, focusing on the two brothers' fractured relationship. Sean had found kinship with fellow lost teens, while Daniel found a pseudo-brother in a reckless member of their camp of runaways in the woods. Not much happened.

By the episode's end, the latter two broke into the weed farm they all worked at—Daniel doing so because he's young, naive, and impressionable obviously—and after an altercation, Daniel's power exploded in a mixture of fear and rage. As a result, the farm was left in ruins. Sean was passed out, and depending on your actions over the episode, some may have died too. It was a big cliffhanger. We saw someone roadtripping in the teaser for the next episode, with no indication as to who: is it Sean? Is it a distant future Daniel?

In Episode 4's latest trailer, it's casually revealed to be Sean after all. His hair is buzzed, and Daniel is nowhere to be found. In the opening moments of the episode, we learn that Sean was in a coma for a few months, and he's now blind in one eye in the aftermath of the farm incident. He's also expected to be hauled to a juvenile detention center once he passes a milestone in his recovery. The hook of the episode is strong: Where is Daniel?

The episode has a different feel from past ones in the series. It's lonelier now that Daniel isn't constantly at Sean's side. There are no special interactions with Daniel, nor training his powers, like lifting a log. In that respect, conversations and interactions with objects feel less layered than past episodes. It's still largely a conversation-driven game, where you ask questions and make on the fly dialogue choices, in addition to bigger decisions that impact the narrative more dramatically. What's gone is the brotherly anchor from past episodes, where you could initiate a conversation with Daniel around something specific, or even have him help Sean with chores. In Episode 4, that element's gone. It's just Sean by his mostly lonesome now.

To keep spoilers light, Episode 4 moves in unexpected directions. Sean in particular goes on quite the character journey, confronting elements of his past that he never wanted to. The ever-changing scenery of road tripping that was strong in the first episode returns in this new episode, with multiple locales for Sean to explore and talk to people in. Emotions are at a high the entire penultimate episode, resulting in a few conversations that are easily the height of the series so far. If the last episode's main theme was about the family you choose, Episode 4 reflects that into the family you don't choose, for better or for worse—depending on how you see it, and as a result, how you play.

Episode 4 falters in the same place as the preceding Life Is Strange 2 episodes: a lack of weighty choices like its predecessor. While there is a dramatic choice toward the end of the episode, thinking back on it, I'm not sure either option will have much impact where Episode 5 goes, just like the prior episodes' big end-of-episode decisions. As a result, Life Is Strange 2 remains more focused on conversational decisions, which just feed into how characters later interact with you. Like how Daniel shunned me for a time for acting more like a parent than a fun brother, and so forth.

One sequence has Sean backpacking across a desert. It looks miserable. | Caty McCarthy/USG, Dontnod Entertainment/Square Enix

For Life Is Strange 2, I've slowly come to accept that this approach largely works, even if I wish the bigger choices carried more impact further on down the line. Regardless, after finishing up Episode 4, I'm eager to see where Sean and Daniel end up in their final episode, which releases at the tail end of this year.

So far, Life Is Strange 2 has been quietly very good, even with its missteps. With a believable sibling relationship anchoring the series, it's a very different game from the original Life Is Strange, and I think it's all the better for it. Episode 4 in particular is the second best episode in the series so far, resting next to its excellent introductory episode. I'm looking forward to seeing the conclusion of these brothers' heart wrenching tale. Hopefully they finally get their happy ending, or something close to it, but something tells me they maybe won't.

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Caty McCarthy

Senior Editor

Caty McCarthy is a former freelance writer whose work has appeared in Kill Screen, VICE, The AV Club, Kotaku, Polygon, and IGN. When she's not blathering into a podcast mic, reading a book, or playing a billion video games at once, she's probably watching Terrace House or something. She is currently USgamer's Senior Editor.

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