Life is Strange 2: Episode 4 Review — A Test of Faith
As the penultimate chapter of the season, Life is Strange 2: Episode 4 brings the story to a head with several challenging situations.
With Life is Strange 2 coming up on a year since it first debuted, the story of Sean and Daniel has (finally) reached its penultimate moment, bringing the story to a pretty heated point in the Diaz brothers’ journey. The fourth episode, titled “Faith,” very much explores this journey in both a literal and metaphorical sense, as Sean and Daniel have both changed dramatically from their days in the suburbs of Seattle, to now seeking refuge with family across the border into Mexico. Though it perhaps feels like the story is just now starting to gain momentum as it nears its conclusion, Episode 4 of Life is Strange 2 continues to build on the season’s strong blend of character development and hard decisions in a story that very much feels in tune with the current political and social landscape.
Picking up a few months after the end of Episode 3, “Faith” catches players up on the aftermath of the events at Merrill’s pot farm that left Sean without an eye and Daniel missing. Sean wakes up a few months later at a hospital in northern California recovering from the botched robbery and his injury, while being held for questioning by the FBI and an impending transfer to a juvenile detention center. However, after catching wind of Daniel’s potential whereabouts, Sean ends up making a break from the hospital and heads out onto the open road to find him.
With a few obstacles along the way, Sean ends up tracking down Daniel’s location to the town of Haven Point, Nevada. After a long drive from northern California to Nevada, Sean (as expected) does end up finding Daniel, though he winds up being in the hands of a religious group that is utilizing his powers for their own purposes. With Daniel under the spell of the church, Episode 4 finds Sean testing his faith to safely bring Daniel back on their journey towards Mexico, while also wrestling him out of the control of his newfound caretakers.
Given the huge focus that this season has placed on the relationship between Sean and Daniel in the preceding three episodes, the most notable quality of Episode 4 right off the bat is the deeper focus on Sean himself. After being separated from Daniel for such a time, in nearly every scene you can feel the uneasiness and fear that lingers in his mind not knowing where Daniel is and how to get him back. This sense of empathy with Sean works tremendously throughout the course of “Faith” especially as in this episode, in more ways than one, he is truly at his lowest point physically, mentally, and emotionally.
This comes across even further throughout the numerous obstacles that Sean has to face to even get to Daniel, from staging an elaborate escape from the hospital (and a conviction) to a run-in with some aggressive, hostile locals that give Sean a hard time for trespassing on their land. These circumstances build to an especially grueling moment where Sean winds up traveling through the sweltering Nevada desert on-foot, bearing the heat, exhaustion, and loneliness to find his brother.
With the absence of Daniel throughout the majority of the episode, Episode 4 finds an immediately compelling story thread as Sean risks everything to find his brother, along with several moments that call back to his past. Without giving too much away, these moments of Sean coming to terms with his past, literally and metaphorically, work better in some cases than others, but all serve to deepen his character and show the growth that he has experienced since the first episode. In several instances these moments hit home pretty hard, especially with one character introduced in the later half of the episode. Throughout their interactions with Sean and the ensuing conversations, I couldn’t help but connect it all to deep family experiences of my own.
Sean’s search for Daniel throughout Episode 4 drives most of the episode’s emotional resonance, and while the episode gives players a great opportunity to deepen their understanding of Sean’s character further, in some ways “Faith” does suffer from stripping away what has been the series’ strongest element: the two brothers’ relationship. The previous three episodes of Life is Strange 2 made it a point that your decisions and actions would not only have consequences on the story at large but would also reflect on Daniel’s perception and how he would react to things. However, in Episode 4, those moments carry a little less weight without having to keep Daniel in mind and (largely) acting on Sean’s behalf.
Likewise, Episode 4 continues to show some of the struggles that Life is Strange 2 has had in balancing its character-driven moments with its more expositional set pieces, particularly with the introduction of the Haven Point Church. While “Faith” delivers some gut-wrenching scenes that can feel deeply personal, particularly with Sean having to come to terms with his past, by comparison it felt hard to feel a similar emotional weight to the situations that arose at the church. This is especially in regard to the episode’s antagonists, the church’s leader Lisbeth Fischer and her right-hand man Nicholas, who come across as uninteresting, flat caricatures that could have walked over from any other game with a crazed religious cult.
Despite some of its weaker aspects, Episode 4 brings Life is Strange 2 to an engaging place narratively as the story draws nearer to its conclusion, thanks to its compelling arc of leaving Sean in a vulnerable, more emotionally-raw state. While “Faith” and its smaller, more character-driven moments work more effectively than the larger, more action-driven scenes, the conclusion of the episode leaves the season in a chilling, intriguing place as they inch closer and closer to Mexico. With how far Sean and Daniel have come in their journey, I can only find myself both looking forward to and dreading what awaits them at their destination.