Unlike recaps, where spoilers are expected, there is a fine line between too much and too little information when it comes to episodic games. Since there is a cost of entry and the actual point of a review is to determine whether or not it’s worth your time, the average reader wants to know if it is worth their time. The struggle is knowing what to reveal and what not to reveal, with later episodes making that line harder to adhere to. Since so much of Life is Strange 2 – Episode 2: Rules deals with the twist at the end of the previous chapter, expect a fair amount of spoilers in this and future Life is Strange 2 reviews.
With that being said, the chapter title, rules, refers to the three guidelines Sean imposes on Daniel and the use of his powers. The basic gist is, don’t use them recklessly and do everything in your power to prevent people from learning of them. They’re nothing special, not that you’d expect much more from a teen who lacks the experience to guide his brother but the idea of rules and guidelines make up much of the second episode.
After skipping a month or so in the future, Sean has helped Daniel gain control of his power. We don’t see much of the progress, just the end result and some small clues as to how he grew. In addition to Daniel gaining focus, we see Sean step more into a parenting role. He realizes he needs to protect Daniel and that means so much more than simply trying to control him. This progresses to a point where he accepts it’s better to visit his grandparents, on his estranged mother’s side, then continue to risk Daniel’s life.
This choice ends with a rather, let’s call it clichéd, choice that highlights the other big theme of this chapter. Most of the choices are framed rather differently when you look at them from Daniel and Sean’s perspectives. Sean tends to deal with the type of parent he wants to be, with Daniel’s framing how he develops his powers.
There is a stark contrast where you can see the makings of a hero’s origin or the start of an unstoppable evil. All of this begins with the choice to deal with a cougar and continues throughout. These choices continue until you hit the end where, at least on my main play through, Daniel acted in a way you’d expect from Magneto from the X-Men.
While this would be an interesting story to explore, it’s largely held back by the episodic nature of Life is Strange 2. Similar to how people complain about Black Mirror: Bandersnatch didn’t offer viewers a lot of options, something many believe to be the point of the episode, Life is Strange 2 has to build to a predetermined location.
For instance, one of the biggest choices you can make is whether or not to do something that might give authorities an idea of your location. Whether it’s using social media, making a call or something else, you’re given a multiple chances to mess up. However, even if you don’t slip up, you’re punished for going outside the house anyway, because the story needs the brothers to leave the safety of their grandparents and there in lies the problem.
Every choice will no doubt change their overall fate but whether you make Daniel’s moral alignment will likely not be a factor until the very end, if at all. It’s hard to feel the weight of choices that ultimately mean nothing, just like building towards a future that is as uncertain as to where their journey is going to take them.
Despite the shortcomings with this narrative choice, Life is Strange 2 – Episode 2: Rules is still a game and far from the most polished entry in the series. It isn’t uncommon for there to be graphic glitches, sound issues and more. Considering there is very little going on and even less when you consider it’s essentially a point and click game, these stand out far more than another title. If nothing else, it is rather concerning we waited a number of months for the next episode, only for it to ultimately have less than desirable polish.
Regardless of the issues, it’s still too early to say whether or not this arc will pay off. Right now it feels like the story has a firm grasp on the concepts they want to touch on, but they don’t know how to tell a narrative that fits it. It’s clear the next episode will deal with Cassidy the drifter and we will likely meet their mother at some point, but right now the story is spinning wheels. It will be interesting to see if the climax gives us the ability to see two radically different endings or possibly the most common outcome leading to the future franchise canon but we will have to see where the rails take us.
[Editor’s Note: Life is Strange 2 – Episode 2: Rules was reviewed on the PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]