Life Is Strange 2 - Episode 2 Review

By Rebecca Smith, 15 days ago
The first episode of Life is Strange 2 introduced the Diaz brothers as a life-changing event forced them to go on the run. That episode decidedly shook things up, removing the boys from the normal existence they had and replacing it with a future that is far more uncertain. "Episode 2: Rules" continues that storyline, but whereas things were in constant flux in Episode 1, the second episode has a far more stable, if still tense, demeanour. This time, it's all about sticking to those rules and the consequences of them being broken.

Life Is Strange 2 Ep 2 keyart

Episode 2 takes place several weeks after the end of the first episode. Christmas is approaching, but more notably, winter has already arrived. Snow covers the ground, temperatures have dropped, and it's not the sort of conditions in which you want to be sleeping rough. Luckily the boys have found an abandoned cabin in the woods, and it's here where older brother Sean helps nine-year-old Daniel come to terms with his new ability. The problem is that Daniel's unwell, so the boys have to up sticks once again and reconnect with some old acquaintances for a little while.

The whole episode is dedicated to Daniel's development as a character, both in his personality and with his powers, but not only is Daniel learning to control those, he has to obey certain rules regarding their use. The first is not to use his powers to show off. The second is not to talk about them. The third is to always run away from danger. The problem is when you're a young boy, following rules is boring and he's too young to fully understand the consequences. As Sean, gamers play a large part in Daniel's growth as a character. If Sean tells him to stop swearing, he'll do so. If he encourages him to suppress his powers and stick to the rules, he'll stop using them unnecessarily. While there are some aspects of Daniel's personality that can't be shaped (he won't always do as he's told), he does feel a bit like a new pet going through training.

Life Is Strange 2 Ep 2 screenshot

To focus on Daniel's development, the episode moves away from the focus of the boys always being on the run and they manage to find some stability, although nobody knows how long it will last. The result is an episode with a far slower pace, almost to the point of tedium in places — Episode 1's review described it as a slow burner, but its pace was like lightning compared to this episode. In some places, players are even seemingly left to find their own entertainment by looking around their environment for clues to fill in the back story and to flesh out some of the game's supporting characters, such as the boys' mother. It's one of those supporting characters that really helps to add some much-needed life to the episode.

Next door to the boys live the Eriksens, a father and son who are also going through some tough times. Young Chris Eriksen is also known as Captain Spirit, the boy with a vivid imagination that took the starring role in the The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. If players tried that prologue, their actions will affect the story in very minor ways, such as Chris' costume, the shape of the snowman at the back of their house, or players' knowledge of his toys, and it's great to see. Captain Spirit and Daniel get on very well and their typical boys-will-be-boys friendship adds another layer to the younger brother's development. Meanwhile, it just adds to Sean's woes as he tries to keep his younger brother in check.

Life Is Strange 2 Ep 2 screenshot

Like before, the episode is filled with a variety of choices. Most of them are minor conversation options that can reveal more details or perhaps change a character's perception towards you. Few of them are major choices, and at first it seems like these aren't that meaningful, but don't be deceived. Dontnod is a master of hiding the true impact of those decisions until it really matters, and by then it's too late to change things. There are several potential endings to the episode, each of which hinges on a variety of factors based around how much discipline you instill in Daniel. The problem is that too much discipline can be just as bad as being too soft.

Unfortunately, the pacing of the episode isn't its only problem. A variety of technical issues, such as crashes during loading, cutscenes that flitted back and forth, disappearing characters, and a broken optional drawing meant the episode could be frustrating beyond realising your decisions had unintended consequences. The final straw was when Sean got stuck in between an NPC and street furniture, necessitating a conversation with that character to free him. With the potential for this conversation to have consequences later on, the only option was to replay that chapter of the game to avoid plot issues not of my making.

Episode 2 Rules

Luckily the achievements work just fine and they're the usual fare. There's an achievement for completing the episode, and several for finding the optional collectibles that can be used to customise Sean's backpack throughout the episode. Some are easy to find, others require a specific set of circumstances, but if you miss them the first time through, there's a mode that allows you to repeat scenes and pick them up after. Finally, there's a single achievement for starting one sketch during the episode. While there are several opportunities to do this, one of these doesn't work correctly and wouldn't allow the sketch to be finished, although it should still be enough to get the achievement.

Summary

If you thought that Episode 1 of Life is Strange 2 was a slow burner, you'll find "Rules" to be almost glacial in comparison. At times the action slows down a bit too much, but on the other hand, the benefit to slowing things down is that we see some significant character development both for Daniel and some of the supporting characters. Captain Spirit in particular is a character who deserved far more screen time than he got. As usual player decisions help to shape the way the story goes, and Dontnod is still a master of hiding the true impact of those decisions until it really matters. Aside from the pacing, the episode is let down by a variety of technical issues which add a layer of frustration and detract from the experience. Fortunately we can see that the pace of Episode 3 is likely to pick up, and hopefully that finally reaches the potential this story is promising.
3 / 5
Episode 2: Rules in Life is Strange 2
Positives
  • Plenty of opportunity to make your mark on the episode
  • Thorough character development
  • Great integration of demo choices
Negatives
  • Pace can become far too slow
  • Technical issues including crashes during loading
Ethics Statement
The author spent four hours trying to control a nine-year-old boy with his own interpretation of the rules. There's a reason she doesn't want children. She did manage to unlock all nine of the episode's achievements. An Xbox One code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
Rebecca Smith
Written by Rebecca Smith
Rebecca is the Newshound Manager at TrueGaming Network. She has been contributing articles since 2010, especially those that involve intimidatingly long lists. When not writing news, she works in an independent game shop so that she can spend all day talking about games too. She'll occasionally go outside.