Episode 4 score - 4.5 stars
Verdict: "A jam-packed episode that touches on difficult subjects but still has a lot of heart."
Life Is Strange 2 says a lot about human connection. Whether it be the family ties that bind us, or the differences that can divide us, the sequel isn’t afraid to lay them all bare, and episode 4 does it better than ever. Packed full of raw emotions, poignant scenes, and brutally uncompromising moments, Life is Strange 2 episode 4 accelerates the story forward in leaps and bounds. So much is squeezed into its four-hour run-time, but no scene feels out of place or unnecessary thanks to its pacing, which makes everything flow naturally from one scene to the next. As the story takes place two months after the action reached its peak in episode 3, a lot has changed.
Fair warning, some spoilers lie ahead.
We reunite with Sean in a hospital bed looking a lot worse for wear with a patch over his eye, and Daniel, as we soon learn, is missing. The brothers have been separated, and Sean is all alone. It’s here that we meet Joey, the likeable medical nurse treating Sean’s injury. The drawing mechanic returns right from the off, but this time it’s used to demonstrate how Sean’s field of view and depth perception have been hindered by his eye injury. Since drawing has been a mainstay feature throughout the sequel so far, showing the consequences of the previous episode’s events in an almost tangible way makes it all the more impactful. The authorities have finally caught up to Sean as a result of his stay in hospital, and with the threat of going to prison looming over him, he decides to make a break for it to go in search of Daniel.
You learn that Daniel is in a place called Haven Point, Nevada, thanks to a note left in Sean’s sketchbook from Jacob. This was really the only sticking point for the episode, because it’s easy to forget who Jacob is; there’s very little exposition to remind us that he was the once-religious guy you met at the camp in episode 3 who questions his faith. For the most part, the opening section sees you working to help Sean escape by interacting with everything in your hospital room to discover the best escape route. Once out, you set out on the road to Nevada, and this is where the story truly begins.
The lone wolf
The wolf analogy that frames the sequel hits all the harder in this episode. Now, Sean is a lone wolf who has lost his pack. Vulnerable and alone, this motif is no more felt than when Sean is out on the road by himself, and a full moon shines overhead. Looking to the empty car seat beside him, you can’t help but feel Daniel’s absence. This isolated, lonely feeling is a constant thread that pulls the episode along. On the quiet, empty roads that stretch through the desert, Sean is truly by himself in a hostile environment. And it’s not just hostile because of the unrelenting heat of the sandy landscape.
Episode 4 returns with more heavy hitting moments that deal with some serious and very real themes. In a moment of reprieve from driving, Sean finds himself in a confrontation with with two men who claim to own the land he’s parked on. One of them is overly aggressive right away, and it quickly becomes clear why. The scene cuts like a jagged edge. It’s upsetting and uncomfortable, but at the same time, it’s made all the more important because of how it makes you feel. Because of some similar confrontations in past episodes, it really makes you second guess everyone you meet. Eventually you end up having to make your way through the desert on foot, and when a truck driver pulls up to offer you a ride, you can’t help but feel uneasy. Is this man really going to give you a lift? Or does he have other motivations? Throughout the episode, it’s easy to spend too long trying to decide what the “right” choice is, because there are no obvious answers.
Daniel’s power plays a more prominent role in this episode compared to the last, but it does so in a most unexpected way. Without wanting to spoil this part too much, Haven Point, which turns out to be a church, isn’t as squeaky clean as it appears, and Daniel’s power is put to use in a way you probably won’t see coming. As much as it’s an unexpected direction for the story to go in, it’s more about the way it’s used to reconnect family relationships then it is about the events that take place. After all, the story is all about familial bonds – every family is different, and each and every one has their own fair share of problems. For the Diaz brothers, it’s the lack of a real connection with their estranged mother, and it comes to the story’s forefront part way through when she actually makes an appearance.
With as many plot points as the story works through, it still gives you the chance to sit and take in your surroundings at certain intervals. These little quiet moments have become a hallmark feature of the Life Is Strange series overall, and it’s always a welcome pause in the game that lets you take everything in. The episode looks fantastic too, with emotive facial expressions and plenty of picturesque shots of the desert vistas during the sequences on the road. One of the series strengths is its soundtrack, and the latest episode is no exception, although it’s certainly made a departure away from the pop music of episode 3 to suit this episode’s darker tone.
Overall, Life is Strange 2 episode 4 takes the story to its crescendo, and you can’t help but wonder where the next episode will take us. As brutal and dark as it can be, the familial ties the story explores are also full of moments that will tug on your heartstrings and keep you invested throughout.
Turn to page two for our Life is Strange 2 - Episode 3 review...