Life Is Strange 2 – Episode 2 Review

Rules

Far too long after the conclusion of the first episode of Life Is Strange 2, we return to find Sean and Daniel still on the run from the law, living in the wilderness and struggling to survive. However, there’s a very different tone to their adventure compared to the struggles of the first episode, and Rules starts to explore the consequences of supernatural powers, family and more, all with a nice cameo from Captain Spirit.

Please note: certain spoilers for the series, this episode and The Awesome Adventure of Captain Spirit lie below this trailer.

There’s a number of intriguing threads that run through the episode, with Daniel’s burgeoning powers often at the centre of your moral conundrums. Since the sudden bursts of telekinetic energy that he was able to throw out in the first episode, Sean has tutored him and helped him grow his strength and ability. It’s this training sequence that we see at the start of the episode, as the duo are squatting in an abandoned winter cabin.

However, it’s also here that Sean lays down a set of simple rules to try and keep Sean from using his powers in a way that would draw attention to them. Of course, the episode then excels at putting you in difficult situations where his powers could be used or are used, and you’re then deciding on whether it’s the right course of action. It could be a fit of anger, a case of compassion, a sudden fleeting moments. You don’t have direct control over Daniel, but how you interact with him shapes his behaviour through the rest of the episode. How strongly do you stress to him that he needs to keep his powers secret? How harshly do you admonish him when he does use them? Even when trying to do the right thing in nurturing his abilities and attitude, the game throws a few gut punches in there.

It does that most effectively by creating a new sense of normality for the two boys. Their time spent in the wilderness is kept brief, as we return to them a few months after the end of the first episode, and their trek across to a small town is kept to a short montage of walking. It’s here that they find some of their extended family willing to give them shelter and settled ground, but that brings its own problems and troublesome history that is sure to be explored further over the rest of the season. It’s also here that they find themselves neighbours to Chris (AKA Captain Spirit) and his father Charles.

After first meeting these characters in the free standalone episode The Awesome Adventure of Captain Spirit, in which we also got our first glimpse of Sean and Daniel, it’s great to see them return and Chris gives Daniel a new friend with whom he can simply be a kid. However, having one kid who has powers playing with another kid who dreams of having powers provides a fertile bed for Daniel to stray away from the rules.

You gain a lot more from this tangent in the story if you’ve played Captain Spirit and know the backgrounds of Chris and his father Charles, and it’s a shame that more isn’t done with the strong themes of domestic abuse, alcoholism and grief that ran through the standalone episode. That said, their interactions with the two brothers still brings a lot and adds variety to the middle act of the episode, helping it to feel more natural.

Of course, it all comes crashing down, and while the episode might have felt like it was providing a new canvas on which the drama could unfold, Life Is Strange 2 sticks to its intent as a road trip story. There’s no short amount of drama and, depending on your choices, emotional heft to what happens as the episode comes to an end and the brothers are forced to flee once more. All that’s left is a tantalising glimpse and hint of what’s to come and the relationships that will be explored next time around.

Episode 2 continues the strong start that Life Is Strange 2 made all the way back in September of last year. Once again, while this is a story that features the supernatural, it’s a very human drama at its heart and one that’s well worth enjoying. Given the long wait between episodes, though, you might prefer to hold off until the season has been concluded.

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