Saying goodbye is never easy, and nothing can fully prepare you when it comes to bidding farewell to characters you've become so attached to. The nature of Life is Strange 2's episodic format means that you have more time to digest every part of the story, and as the release is stretched over several months, you even begin to miss the characters as you wait it out for the next part. Every time you are able to reunite with the Diaz brothers for the next episode, it's like seeing old friends, and this bond is one that makes the prospect of this journey coming to an end so much harder to swallow. Life is Strange 2 – Episode 5 takes you on an emotional, nail-biting ride that you'll still be thinking about long after it's over.
A little slower in pace to start with compared to the previous episode, Journey's End takes place in Arizona seven weeks after the events at Haven Point. We join Sean and Daniel as they wake up in a beautiful, sun-soaked desert setting, with hues of reds and purples dripping through the morning haze. The opening sequence looks absolutely beautiful, and as Sean and Daniel howl to the sky and talk about the wolves story – which has become a poignant metaphor for the Diaz brother's journey – I'm reminded of everything the pair have been through up to this point, and that there is still more heartbreak to come. Dontnod isn't afraid to hit you hard with its endings – as the first Life is Strange proved out – and Life is Strange 2 is no exception. Episode 5 sees the series out with a heart-wrenching bang that will leave you reeling
Fair warning, some spoilers lie ahead.
Diaz brothers, always
Life is Strange 2 is able to trap your heart in a vice grip thanks to how well it explores human connections and the relationship between the brothers. Despite everything they've been through, they're still – and always will be – Diaz brothers. Sean and Daniel's bond is always at the forefront of the episode, and it keeps them going when the world around them shows no mercy. In a makeshift town in the middle of the desert called Away – in which the residents are doing their best to get away from the trappings of society – the story truly begins. Living as outcasts in all but name, this is where Sean and Daniel's mother lives. You can choose how you want to approach the relationship with their mother, and throughout you'll find nods to past characters. The only aspect I wish came into play more was seeing the characters you had an impact on in previous episodes make more of a tangible appearance, but with so much going on throughout the episode, I can understand why they didn't necessarily fit into the narrative in a heartier way.
After the misuse of Daniel's powers in Haven Point, it's refreshing to see Daniel use his abilities to help create and build art. Daniel has always thought of art as Sean's superpower, which he reiterates when he encourages Sean to never give it up. Daniel expresses that he's happier to use his power to build something rather than use it destructively. Daniel will end up using his power in a myriad of different ways in this episode, and it's left up to you to decide how he uses it for the most part.
A lesson learned
Every choice and every lesson you've taught Daniel throughout each previous episode affects the way your journey will come to an end in one way or another. The main theme of the game is education, and your role as a mentor and guide to your younger brother really makes its mark in the finale. You'll be presented with ways to encourage certain behaviours throughout too, continuing your role as a mentor into the moments where it matters most. So, for example, he might be more inclined to be gentle to a scorpion he picks up with his power if you've tried to teach him to use his power to show care and compassion towards living things.
An aspect of Life is Strange 2 I've always appreciated is all the little nods to past episodes, like the tattoo on Sean's arm. It's one of the ways the series makes you feel like you've had a big part to play in the brothers' story. In some past episodes, it could feel as if your choices didn't have any obvious consequences. The final episode is able to make up for this in the way it highlights how your choices have shaped Daniel. This brings the weight back to your decisions, and makes it feel like everything you decided to do did truly matter. It's a great way to wrap up the story, and with four canon endings with three possible variations, it gives the choices you make concrete meaning that leads to a final outcome you've had a hand in deciding.
Tearing down walls
The events of the previous episode catch up to Sean and Daniel, so the brothers look to make a break for it and head to their end goal of reaching Puerto Lobos in Mexico. The series doesn't hold back from exploring issues that mirror the real world, and as the brothers aim to try and cross the Mexican border, a wall stands between them and freedom. Just when you think it's going to be okay, everything quickly takes a nosedive, and the shock born out of several of the episode's moments keep me firmly planted on the edge of my seat.
It's hard to write about the ending without spoiling anything, but the final decision you make is the hardest one yet. After weighing the pros and cons of both, the ending I'm met with feels very much like the best of a bad situation. With plenty of tears shed and emotions swirling around my heart, I see the 'thank you for playing' message appear on screen, and it finally sinks in that Sean and Daniel's story is truly over.
Parting is such sweet sorrow, and as much as it was hard to say goodbye to the brothers I've come to care about so much, the ending tied up all the loose ends in an emotionally turbulent bow that befits the series. The way the ending is shaped by your choices immediately makes me want to jump back in to Episode 1 and try all over again to see if I can change Sean and Daniel's fate, which is exactly what a choice-based game should strive to make you do.
Dontnod are great at making you care about its characters, and how sad I feel about the series coming to an end is a testament to that fact. Episode 5 will keep you on tenterhooks throughout by planting you in peaceful reflective moments, and then throwing you into tense scenes that will keep you guessing. The ending makes its mark and then some.
Turn to page two for our Life is Strange 2 - Episode 4 review...