It’s been a little while since we last touched base with the Diaz boys. During the opening episode to Life is Strange 2, brothers Sean and Daniel went through the wringer after their dad was accidentally killed and they ended up having to flee from Seattle, starting a long journey towards their family home in Mexico.
In episode two, titled ‘Rules’, we find the two of them more or less settled in an abandoned lodge in a very snowy part of Oregon. The youngest, Daniel, finally discovered that he had powers at the end of the previous episode, and is now getting grips on how to control them, thanks to the training that Sean, the eldest, is helping him carry along. It’s not long before they see themselves heading out, eventually leading them to visit their maternal grandparents who live out in the boonies — and just happen to be neighbors with a particularly imaginative young boy you might know from Life is Strange 2’s pre-release standalone demo, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit.
If you’ve finished that game — and I thoroughly recommend that you do, it’s absolutely adorable and super quick to complete — you might remember that a save file was generated at the end of that. Well, episode 2 makes use of that, introducing Chris to the fiction of LiS 2, following the events of his adventures in the demo. It’s really neat to see the work that went on in order to integrate both worlds together, and if you grew to like Chris as much as I did during my time playing through his Adventures, you’ll definitely enjoy how it all integrates to the main game.
The ‘rules’ part of the title refers to Sean having to explain to Daniel that he has to hide his abilities from the public, but as you’ll get to see during the episode, things aren’t that easy. In fact, many of the paramount decisions through its run will see you having to make some tough calls as to whether or not it’s really worth keeping that secret. Rules also come into play and are shaken up when it comes to the brothers having to make a living alongside their elderly relatives. Given the shaky relationship both sides have to Karen, the boys’ mother who’s left them years ago, forcing their dad to raise them on his on, makes for an unsteady start to their stay over their house. That’s where even more rules come into play — and if you have a lick of an idea how kids behave, you know where that leads.
I had a great time playing through episode 2 of Life is Strange 2. Although it’s not nearly as well polished as the previous entry, especially in the technical department, with plenty of sound and graphical bugs all throughout its run — from voice acting samples cutting out and not playing correctly to a handful of clipping and invisible objects, as well as abrupt cuts in some scenes — I found it to be rather well paced and not at all plodding, a problem often present in the follow up to strong starts in this sort of game. Dontnod has done a fantastic job in regards to their use of your decisions during Captain Spirit, and thanks to that, I feel like I didn’t waste any time replaying that before starting ‘Rules’, especially so given that it was my second playthrough of that, since my first was on PC, but the review copy that I have for the series is on PlayStation 4.
Taking into account all the implications that are left in the air by the end of this episode, I wonder if the kids are still likely to go through with their plan to run to Mexico. Things are certainly not getting any easier for them in the US, but considering the post-credits teaser, things might be taking a slight turn during their journey, which I’m hoping will lead to even more rewarding moments of character development, by far the strongest parts in all of Life is Strange as a franchise.