Since the release of the first installment of Life is Strange 2, the second installment has been eagerly awaited by fans of the franchise. Episode 1 – Roads was such an explosive, emotional roller-coaster. We followed the journey of young brothers Sean and Daniel, and watched as their lives fell apart so dramatically. They were forced to leave their home and unwillingly had to adjust to life out in the big world, all alone. Surely episode 2 – Rules would provide some respite from the barrage of trials that episode 1 presented?
The seasons have changed since the brothers first found themselves out on the road. The burned orange hues of autumn have now been over taken by a vast blanket of crisp white winter snow. The dramatic shift in seasons presents its own challenges for the boys, although they have at least managed to find some shelter from the elements in the form of an abandoned cabin. Through the help of Sean, Daniel now has more control over his powers, but it’s easy to see how much their time on the road has taken its toll on them both.
In usual Life is Strange fashion, it’s not long before another challenging event takes place and the boys once again find themselves in search of long lost family, and a place to call home. The pacing of this episode was a far cry from episode 1, at times it felt like there was a complete slowdown and a lot of time was spent completing menial tasks, such as doing chores. This did allow more room for character building, which of course is necessary, but the sizable slowdown was quite apparent.
You are often left waiting for something substantial to occur, and this only seems to take place at the very end of the episode. There are very few major game changing decisions during this episode, and I hope that we return to somewhat of a faster-paced, decision-driven path in the next episode. The more minor choices Sean is faced with revolve more around the boundaries he sets for his younger brother. It would be great to see the effect that these choices have on Daniel’s behavior, and his own decisions, later in the series.
The game consists of very detailed scenes and landscapes, as we have come to expect from Life is Strange games. Environments have a plethora of interactive objects that uncover more story details that we wouldn’t otherwise be informed of. Due to these extensive details, the graphics do suffer from texture popping and visible loading, nothing that hinders gameplay but a little bothersome nonetheless.
During my play-through, I also encountered some character placement bugs, at times characters would slide or teleport into place and at one stage during a cut scene, two characters were even invisible. I am not sure why this occurred, but it is not an issue that I have ever encountered previously in any of the other Life is Strange games. As expected, the soundtrack is also superb. It really helps with the connection to the story and some of the more emotive moments. This, along with the unassuming ambient sound, makes for a solid, immersive experience overall.
If you played The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit (the free demo released by DONTNOD as a teaser, prior to Life is Strange 2) you will finally be able to see where the story overlaps when the boys encounter Chris (Captain Spirit) and his father Charles, who were the main focus in the demo. When loading into the episode I was made aware that my choices from the Captain Spirit demo were being imported, but I am not entirely sure how much difference this actually made.
Chris and Daniel immediately bond and form a firm friendship based on their love of superheroes. This is where some of your choices in setting boundaries for Daniel come into play and have some bearing on their friendship. I do hope that we meet with Chris and his father again in future episodes, it would be a shame if this were the last that we see of them. Their story runs much deeper and it would be a shame if we never get to see the outcome.
With the first episode being released at the end of September and the second installment not being released until February, there was a substantial wait between each of the episodes. DONTNOD had made reference to this in a statement where they explained that this is a project close to their hearts, and they didn’t want to risk any decline in quality. Whilst this is completely understandable, four months is a rather long wait for a game of episodic nature, and there is a risk of disconnect with the story. There is no release date set for episode three and therefore we could unfortunately see the same kind of interval.
Episode two is of a much slower pace in comparison to its predecessor, and comes with less emphasis on heavy choices, as well as some minor bugs. The end result makes for a segment that doesn’t quite meet the quality that was paved by what came before it, but surprisingly manages to hold its own nonetheless. Rules is a solid addition to the Life is Strange world, and a great lead in to the challenging choices, inevitably still to come.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.