By Melody Klink
Life is Strange 2’s penultimate episode is here, and “Faith” takes a lot of leaps. Following the wild finales of Episode 3, Episode 4 sees us once again taking the reins as Sean in an attempt to find his brother. Spoilers are to follow, and we’re digging in deep-- there’s no other way to do it once you’re this far into the story, and we’re certainly over the hill now.
(I replayed through Episode 3 to freshen myself up in the story- not gonna lie, the long releases have really started to wear on me, and it’s made the story feel like it’s dragging. At this rate, I just want it to be complete. Also, I know I kept my Episode 3 review big picture, but is it too late to mention how much I hate being forced to do random arbitrary actions over and over again? Anyway!)
In Episode 3, “Wastelands,” we spent a lot of time developing relationships, working on a weed farm, and overall chilling at a much slower pace than before. We also watched people make really stupid decisions, resulting in (possible) death and maiming for several characters involved. The beginning of Episode 4, “Faith,” shows us the aftermath; two months after those events, Sean wakes up in a hospital room, alone, without Daniel. He was in a coma, and has lost his left eye to a massive piece of glass from the psychic-panic-attack at the farm. He’s been on the mend, but things won’t stay good- tomorrow, the authorities will take him away to a juvenile detention center for questioning (and possible conviction) regarding the cop’s death in Episode 1. He’s told his story a million times, that he didn’t do it, that he can’t talk about who did, that his dad died, too. He’s also questioned on what happened in Episode 3, with the disastrous attempted robbery at the farm. (Depending on your choices, one or more people might be dead from it. Those who are living can show up in the hospital with you, where you can avoid them or try to talk. For me, Merrill was in the hospital, and I said EFF THAT DUDE BYE.)
Sean is of course nervous about the outcome; he could spend the rest of his life in jail for crimes he didn’t commit. But he’s not going to tell them, “yeah hey my little brother, Daniel, came into some psychic powers and they like exploded when he got wildly upset, and people got hurt, more than once, so…”
He’s torn between freedom and loyalty, but he never choose freedom. Sean will chase his enano to the ends of the earth.
So, he does what any sane person would do: break out of the hospital in the middle of the night, steal a car, and flee towards his brother’s possible whereabouts!
I swear, I spend so much of this game telling these characters not to do the things they’re inevitably gonna do.
(Some backstory: one of the people you met in Episode 3 was Jacob- a former religious devout who lost his faith along the road of life. Upon seeing Daniel’s powers, he questions whether or not it’s a sign, and when the cops show up to the farm at the end, he whisks Daniel away to the religious compound he grew up on. In the hospital, Joey, the coolest nurse ever, gives Sean his old notebook, where Jacob hastily scribbled a coded note in order to help Sean know where they went.)
On his way to find Daniel, Sean encounters a lot of awful people, and one good one. He’s beaten for trespassing (he parked off the road in the desert, and is beaten up by white guys who insist it’s their land, trying to force him to say phrases like “this isn’t my country” in Spanish. It’s awful), he’s also beaten up at a church, because that seems like the right thing to do at a church… but it’s not for nothing: the Reverend Mother of the church has learned of Daniel’s powers, and thinks he’s a gift to her from the Lord. So obviously, she’s gonna exploit that in her favor, making people far and wide flock to her congregation as if he was a circus act, a parlor trick to show her greatness. And Sean can’t take her legacy away. She’s Daniel’s family now.
Sean always told Daniel, don’t let anyone see your powers. Keep them secret. Crap like this is exactly why; afraid or in awe, people will take advantage of what they see. They will kill the beast and be seen as a hero, or worship him.
As if all of this wasn’t a big enough shock to the system, Sean encounters another person… his estranged mother, Karen, who’s been missing from their lives for the last decade. When Jacob realized that the Reverend Mother had terrible, manipulative plans in store for Daniel, he reached out to Karen via the PO Box address Daniel always talked about, letting her know that both of her sons were in trouble.
Thanks, Jacob, I guess… you helped make this mess and tried to help clean it up.
You can choose to talk about the past with Karen, or brush her off entirely, using her as a pawn to help rescue Daniel from this brainwashed state.
This religious compound really functions as a cult, and Daniel is their God-touched child. He’s been touted on and about for the last few months, he’s been spoiled and bought into thinking that this is his family now, that his life before was sin, that his brother and mother were terrible… You learn a lot about this Reverend Mother when you break into the compound-- she doesn’t allow science or medicine for her followers, which sucks for a little girl there who has pneumonia, but she’ll use it herself. She forced Jacob into conversion therapy, which you learn is what broke him and his faith previously. She’s a monster, poised as a saint.
Commentary, commentary, commentary.
Ultimately in my playthrough, Sean got nearly beaten to death in front of both his mother and brother, BY THE CHURCH, in order to show his enano that he’d never leave him, that he’d always fight for him. Daniel finally chose to use his powers to attack the assailant, saving his brother… and accidentally catching the church on fire. When the Reverend Mother tried to block the way out, Daniel forced her aside. (There were a lot of gun options right here. It’s difficult enough to grapple with the concept that, in order to maintain your innocence in the original crime, you become a criminal. I was not about to shoot someone.)
United again, the Diaz brothers escape the compound with their mother. Jacob and the little sick girl (who happens to be his sister) escaped as well, despite the church thug insisting he’d dealt with “that Judas” which made me think he killed Jacob before I saw him again… and the scene fades on their car, traveling down a dusty highway.
Okay, whoo, that’s a lot in a nutshell. I never know where this game is gonna go. It always surprises me! I have no idea what to anticipate with the finale episode, which drops in December. “Faith” was a lot of action, despite being a lot of story and cutscenes. Sean has gone through so many things, so much turmoil, and he still presses on. To Puerto Lobos, he says, where they can be free. This episode was a good one, and made me more excited than Episode 3. As I’ve said before, Life is Strange as a series always has a saggy point in the story, which is tough to chew on when it’s a slowly released episodic title.
On a related note, I’ll tell you something that makes me grumpy: when this was in preorder status, you could ONLY buy the entire season. Now the majority of the episodes are free to play (on Game Pass, I should say) where I had to drop $40 on a game that still isn’t complete. I’m not normally that guy, but come on, if I had known it would take THIS long and end up free-to-play, I might have held back. It being on Game Pass is obviously meant to expand the audience that experiences the game, and I don’t fault them for that… just, grump grump grump.
I feel like I should replay it all once the final episode hits- it’ll be better that way. There are so many choices you can make differently, and your finale could be totally different from mine; at this point, there are 4+ options for many branches of decisions and possible outcomes! Half of them are chance, and we all know you can’t control chance.
The graphics, as always, are pretty and crisp, despite more hiccups this go-round than before. I had a weird amount of freezing and crashing in my time playing, but my Xbox is also starting to sound like a jet plane, so it could be a hardware thing. The music was not as memorable this time, but the story spoke well enough for itself that I didn’t mind!
But “Faith” is worth it; it touches on enough characters we know, surprises us along the way, makes our hearts hurt for Sean, makes us rage at those in charge who break the will of people.
Despite all the horrible things that go on, it might be my favorite episode yet. We’ll have to see if these wayward boys ever make it to their freedom.