Life is Strange 2: Episode 3 Review – A Different yet Wonderful Journey

    Title: Life is Strange 2: Episode 3
    Developer: Dontnod
    Release Date: May 9, 2019
    Reviewed On: PS4
    Publisher: Square Enix
    Genre: Episodic Graphic Adventure

With every episode of Life is Strange 2, I seem to get feelings similar to when a TV show finally airs that I’ve been looking forward to. Everything is there, from the preparation to anxiety present minutes before the opening scene. However, this also comes with many other elements that piggyback off of this general feeling thanks to the writing and presentation designed by developer Dontnod. This added element of choice and consequences that the player must face had me reacting to myself instead of the TV. While that’s a sentiment that can be applied to previous episodes, Episode 3 of Life is Strange 2’s outcome is the strongest I’ve felt about any story of this type.

As an episodic series, this review contains spoilers from the previous chapter, Life is Strange 2: Episode 2: Rules.

The story continues from when the Diaz brothers, Sean and Daniel, ran from another bad situation caused by their presence in their grandparents’ house. As the police continue to investigate the incident that killed a police officer, the brothers were nearly captured before they escaped on a train that continued south toward California. Now, Sean and his younger brother, Daniel, find themselves working on an illegal marijuana farm in Humboldt County until they have the money to keep going south to Mexico. Throughout the episode, the player is introduced to new characters, Finn and Cassidy, in which Sean can learn more about their story and intentions, for better and worse.

While some players might find it to be overwhelming to suddenly meet a new cast of characters that weren’t in previous episodes, I found it to be a breath of fresh air and exciting. Instead of being with only the same old characters from before, I got to see what life was like for new characters, who are all likable and are given plenty of screen time — which all in all, I think added more depth to the game’s storytelling overall. Seeing how the Diaz brothers would handle their own relationship, along with their relationships with the other characters, is truly what kept me genuinely curious throughout the entirety of the episode — I didn’t know what to expect at all.

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Overall, though, the story focuses on the brothers’ strained relationship. Sean tries to either push his new friends away or connect with them for the sake of supporting his younger brother. Daniel, on the other hand, wants to prove that he’s grown up and can make his own decisions for using his powers. As I stated in the Episode 1 review, I wanted to see how far the narrative would push Sean and Daniel, and while I won’t spoil the outcomes, I can say that I am happy with the results, even though I was surprisingly bothered by some of them as they unfolded.

Let me explain…the reason why I’m upset with it is similar to the way that people get when invested in an incredible TV show that’s full of twists and turns. Life is Strange 2 so far, plays on those same beats of storytelling that involve a well-done conflict, like Daniel feeling abandoned or Sean speaking out against his misbehaving brother. This is impressive due to the different outcomes that are possible in each chapter, let alone the entire Life is Strange 2 series so far. I can only imagine the work and care that goes into recording every dialogue and sequence without any sort of “continuity error” being really noticeable.

With that said, Life is Strange Episode 3 is expertly-crafted from start to finish. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I’d like this episode being set in one location, and the new characters in it. But really, these elements actually worked out in the episode’s favor, as it feels like you’re a part of one crazy, beautiful, and overwhelmingly memorable camping trip. What’s more to this is that the audio and visuals in this episode further adds to this level of immersion as you can listen in on conversations that surround you and see nice little visual details scattered about the campsite. Furthermore, unlike the previous episodes, with episode 3 there are more cutscenes that are tied in with the episode’s incredible soundtrack that further captures your attention and help develop the characters in front of you. While some players may miss the level of puzzle solving and interactivity that the series is known for, I think the heightened emphasis in narrative-focused storytelling was a good thing for this particular episode.

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However, Episode 3 isn’t completely perfect. There are moments where a character’s facial and posing animations snap into places. These sort of moments happened regularly throughout my playthrough, unfortunately, and it’s sad that there are issues like these since one of the game’s biggest focuses is the characters in the story. Regardless, these issues didn’t put a damper on my love for the episode’s story and characters.

Life is Strange 2: Episode 3 is full of surprises and that’s what makes it so exciting and excellent. The episode successfully evolves the development of the main characters, Sean and Daniel, all the while doing a great job of connecting the player with the wonderful cast of supporting characters that are introduced.

It is great to see a series continues to push its boundaries in storytelling the way that other pieces of media, like TV shows, do. I believe that it’s the step forward that I feel games are supposed to take instead of raising the budget for high-end graphics or action set pieces that leave much to be desired.

What’s truly important, though, is the identity that the Life is Strange series is taking as it’s a series that presents outcomes that are as intense as they are satisfying. With Life is Strange 2: Episode 3, it wonderfully continues what the series is known for — deep storytelling — and that’s why I can easily recommend it to any fans of the series. I’m excited to see what Episode 4 and future episodes will bring, but for right now, I think I’ll replay Life is Strange 2: Episode 3 since I enjoyed it so much.

Score:
8.5/10
A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Victor Aparicio

Senior Staff Writer - Has bought eight versions of Final Fantasy VII, chat with him on Twitter about how bad he is with money. Currently Playing: The Last of Us Part II, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, and the original Final Fantasy VII.