Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Rating: M for Mature
Price: $29.99 (Whole Season—5 Episodes)
Hot off the wild and unexpected conclusion to Episode 3, Life Is Strange 2: Episode 4—Faith puts us back in the shoes of Sean Diaz, now separated from his brother Daniel and recovering in the hospital. While being tended to by his friendly caretaker Joey, Sean must find a way to evade the police who have caught up to him and plan to take him to prison for the events that occurred way back in Episode 1. After a daring hospital escape, Sean makes things right with an old friend, steals a car, and sets out for the Nevada Desert in search of his brother.
Faith and religion play a huge role in Episode 4. Players will visit a church and meet a pastor who may not be as Holy as she seems at face value. Billboards in the desert have quotes and sayings about Christ and many characters mention their faith and how the church has impacted them both positively and negatively. However, the episode doesn’t endorse or slam Christianity in any specific way, but it does a surprisingly good job of showing both sides of the same coin and how, in the wrong hands, religion can be one of the most deadly weapons one can weld against their enemies. Aside from the heavy religious themes, parental abandonment is also explored as the boys will reunite with someone from their past who they thought they’d never see again. Violence is more prevalent in this episode as we see the main character get brutally beat up at least twice. Characters are also pistol whipped or flung through the air as a result of angering Daniel and forcing him to use his powers. As usual with these games, language (and frequent use of the ‘F’ word) are prevalent. There is a scene of drug use where two characters are seen smoking cigarettes outside of a roadside motel.
Life Is Strange 2 is gearing up to have a climax that could potentially surpass that of the first season. By this point, players will have fallen in love with both Daniel and Sean Diaz, the two brothers who have been the focal point of each episode since Season 2 premiered. Here, the brothers are separated after the tragic events that occurred on the weed farm at the end of Episode 3. With only one working eye, sketchy depth perception, and few friends left to rely on, Sean wakes up in the hospital under the care of his nurse Joey, who sympathizes with his plight and laments that he wishes there was a way he could help Sean find his brother and evade the police officers who have finally caught up with him after the events of Episode 1.
Most of Episode 4 is spent trying to find out where Daniel is and how to get to him. After looking back at his last journal entry from when he was still with the crew at the weed farm, Sean sees a note left behind by an old friend who might know where Daniel is and believes that he may be in danger. With this newfound knowledge, players must guide Sean out of the hospital so that he can figure out how to reunite with his brother. There is very little new gameplay in Episode 4; however, the drawing mechanic is affected greatly by Sean’s injury. With only one eye, he has far less depth perception now, so drawings take a few more attempts to finish and the lines aren’t as clean or detailed as they were before. This is a neat way of having the overall outcome of players’ decisions impact the experience in a major way. It’s nice to see Dontnod adding little touches like this to really sell the immersion of playing as these characters and investing in the choices they make.
As some plot threads are wrapped up and resolved in this episode, some new ones open up as well. The brothers may have evaded the police yet again, but it wont be long before the detective assigned to Sean catches up to them. One thing I don’t like about this season in general is that while the game keeps introducing new characters, we never get a chance to meaningfully follow up with characters introduced earlier in the season. Sure, there are some flashbacks and some references thrown out here and there, but it would be nice to see some familiar faces to provide some reassurance for the pair as they continue their journey to Puerto Lobos and freedom from the nightmare they’ve been living through this entire time.
While this episode was very heavy on the themes of religion, specifically Christianity and how it both helps and hurts those in a congregation, it was nice to see it handled well here. Upon arriving at the church in Haven Point, where Daniel was last seen, Sean notices a mailbox reminiscent of the one his grandparents had in Episode 2, and he wonders aloud if these people in the church are “good Christians like his grandparents.” This is great foreshadowing as the church and its congregation, especially their charismatic pastor, seem a little off from the get-go. Players will get the sense right away that not everything is as it seems with these people. The way that Episode 4 ends is easily the best of the season. We see Sean literally put his life on the line for his brother in a tense stand off that I didn’t expect to go as far as it did. It’s nice to see that the developers are willing to push the envelope and explore the lengths that people will go to cling to family, faith, and their own egos.
There is one episode left in the season and I’m honestly really hoping for a courtroom trial scene for the brothers to plead their case. This would be a good way to reintroduce all the people the pair have come into contact with throughout the season. This could also pave the way for player choices to have a much more significant impact on the ending this time around as Sean’s new friendships could likely help sway the jury in favor of him and Daniel. But this is all speculation, and it remains to be seen if Dontnod can keep up this pace and have the season finale stick the landing as well as the last two episodes have.
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