- Consistently great story
- Extremely relevant to our world today
- Covers a lot of ground despite its length
- Fantastic acting throughout
- There's only one episode left
I don't mean to belabor the point, but Life is Strangd 2 is one of those games I'm going to be talking about for a long time to come. It's worth playing.
DON’T SLEEP ON THIS
I know for a fact that a number of people reading this are waiting to jump in once Life is Strange 2 is complete. With that in mind, it’d be cruel to go all-in on the plot of Faith because this game is so story-driven. Still, as much as I just want to say “this game is great and you must play it,” and leave it at that, I can’t. It’s just as irresponsible. After all, I don’t know that Life is Strange 2’s last episode will be on par with the others – it’s just that they’ve been so confidently directed and consistent, I’d be shocked if the last episode became something different.
What I will say about the premise of Faith is this: after the events of the previous episode, Wastelands, Daniel Diaz has been taken in by a religious cult and heralded as a messiah for his telekinetic powers. It’s up to Sean to figure out how to break his brother out of there, and get their trek to Puerto Lobos, Mexico back on track. Despite covering the same topic as Far Cry 5 in only a fraction of the time, Dontnod finds a way to say more about the subject matter than Ubisoft’s blockbuster ever could. This is what we should expect, since Life is Strange 2 is no stranger to political issues.
From the jump, this game has tackled police shootings and racism, and has grown over time to talk about child abuse, marijuana legalization, teen sexuality, and human empathy in these dark times, among many other topics. What’s interesting about the cult setting is that this episode is able to establish the tone and tenor of the group in a matter of moments. A short scene to show them off. A couple conversations to show you what people think. Then, the writers use the rest of the episode to talk about the effects that cult mentality has on its followers. Prayers trump modern medicine. Gay people can be cured through conversion therapy. These situations are seen though the eyes of outsiders, believers, and non-believers alike, but nowhere does the game try to position this as a fair representation of the scenario on all sides. This cult is clearly evil, and the game does not pretend for a second that it’s not.
Despite the focus on Daniel’s superpowers, the way the game shows the cult and their actions feels realistic and creepy. Realism has always been a focus for this game, but it’s elevated to a new level, as Sean is forced to watch his brother perform his “miracles,” and there’s little he, or the player, can do about it. The story makes it clear that going in guns blazing or invoking a spontaneous emotional response from a member of the cult isn’t going to work. That’s not how real life works. All Sean can do is utilize his skills – his words, his powers of observation – to find a way to save his brother. It’s all that could be expected of any of us if we were placed in this scenario, whether we have a team of allies on our side or not.
For some fans, this episode may be disappointing. While some of the other episodes have gone back and forth on the scale between adventure game and interactive drama, Faith is pretty far on the latter side. Like Life is Strange: Before the Storm, there is still the occasional puzzle or obstacle to get past, but the focus is on making decisions. I ultimately prefer this method, because whenever something pops up to tell the player this is a regular video game (for example, Sean putting inventory items in his pocket when he doesn’t have one), it took me out of the experience. Life is Strange 2 works best when it focuses on the story, thrusting Sean into scenes that are hard to play, but reminiscent of the hate crimes and stories of injustice that are in the headlines every day.
It’s hard to imagine how Dontnod will draw this game to a close. There’s so many avenues they could explore, they could produce a few more episodes and I’d be happy to play them all. Still, I trust them to deliver something appropriate. I haven’t been this excited about a story in a long time. Not since I read through Jandy Nelson’s novel I’ll Give You the Sun over a four day weekend in college. Like that book, Life is Strange 2 continues to be told with a ton of passion and creative electricity that makes it hard to look away. I want to keep consuming it, and keep telling others about it because it’s fantastic. It makes me want to cry. It does everything a good story should do. It’s going to haunt me until the final episode arrives on December 3.
Platform: PS4 | Publisher: Square Enix | Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Release Date: 8/22/19| Rating: M for Mature
This review was conducted on a PS4 Pro using a digital download I bought on the Playstation Network as part of the season pass for Life is Strange 2. It’s also available on Xbox One and PC. If you’d like to see reviews of the previous episodes of Life is Strange 2, including The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, you can do so here, here, here, and here. If you’d like to contact me, you can leave a comment below or email me at dcichocki(at)tiltingwindmillstudios.com. I also have a Twitter!