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access_time December 5, 2019 at 5:00 PM in Reviews by David Poole

Review | Life is Strange 2 — Episode Five: Wolves

It’s been one incredible journey for Sean and Daniel Diaz. The wolf brothers have been on a quest to evade their pursuers for over a year now. It’s hard to believe that the first Life is Strange 2 episode released 14 months ago, but here we are. In a lot of ways, their journey parallels our own, seeing all the hardships and growth essentially in real time. For those that wanted to wait until the release of the entire season, you’re in for a wild ride. Those that have played each episode upon release however, they’ll be able to finally reach the long-awaited conclusion. Life is Strange 2 — Episode Five: Wolves brings everything home, but just what kind of home you get is all based on your decisions. Since this is a narrative based game, there may be minor spoilers. Reader discretion is advised.

After the events of the previous episode, roughly seven weeks have passed. Sean and Daniel are staying with their mother Karen in an out of the way Arizona community known simply as “Away”. With the goal of the Mexican border in sight, the brothers prepare for the final leg of their journey. Everything they’ve worked for, all their challenges, sacrifices and dreams, it all culminates in this final episode. Without spoiling too much, Wolves works a bit differently than previous episodes, taking a sort of “less is more” approach.

One of the best things about Wolves is that Daniel’s powers are no longer held back. Throughout the whole journey, Sean would typically encourage Daniel to hide the powers. Even if the player has the choice to have Daniel use them, it was always more reserved. At this point in time, Daniel is actually free to use his powers now more than ever. It’s like seeing the fruits of the labor of all the training the two brothers have done. Of course, how Daniel uses these powers will still be based on his brothers teachings. While the previous episodes will give the most opportunities for Daniel’s alignment, there are still moments in this episode to take careful consideration.

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of this episode is the connection to the original Life is Strange. While previous episodes have had small nods, this episode takes it much further by bringing in an existing character. We won’t spoil who it is here, but we have to say the way they turned out after the events in Arcadia Bay was quite the revelation. It was a great way to incorporate a character into this story, and it has a subtle pay off for fans of the first game. Of course, other characters throughout Life is Strange 2 are referenced here too. Depending on the ending the player gets, they may even see a few familiar faces.

Speaking of the ending, Wolves being the finale means players will get to see the results of all their choices. Life is Strange 2 features several drastically different endings. Some differences are subtle, while others provide extensive changes that show how impactful our decisions were. I’ll admit, not every ending is amazing. There are a couple that don’t feel rewarding enough for the player, leaving a lot to the imagination. Luckily, most of the endings provide a fantastic conclusion. Whether you steer Daniel to the side of good or evil, there’s a lot of development to see. I actually felt the need to replay the episode just to get a different ending than my original one.

Visually, Wolves has a lot of beautiful moments to some great set pieces. The variety of locations is a bit lower than previous episodes, but it uses them much more effectively. With Daniel no longer hiding his powers, this also means there are a lot of cool moments to experience with them. Despite this, one part of the game did bother me. There was one scene where the animation felt like it was on fast-forward. The characters spoke normally, but the animation and physics were going far too fast. It was likely a glitch, but it happened to me on both runs I had in the episode. A patch will likely fix it, but it was weird to experience after having almost no technical issues in previous episodes.

One surprising element of this episode was the lack of indie music. Usually there’s a place where players can sit and just experience the aesthetic while listening to some relaxing music. While there was still a place to sit, the music was just the normal background track. The whole season gave us some great music from several artists, so it’s unfortunate that it wasn’t the case here. That doesn’t mean the soundtrack is bad, it just didn’t provide a lot of variety. At least the music always went well with any scene it was accompanying.

Getting to the vocal performances, Wolves provides some of the best moments from the actors. Gonzalo Martin still does an amazing job as Sean, but the standout performance is definitely Roman Dean George as Daniel. Some of the best moments in the episode come from Daniel fully expressing his emotions. Even so, the two brothers have this realistic chemistry that can only be achieved thanks to the excellent performances of their actors. Jolene Andersen continues to provide an excellent voice of Karen, especially in a couple key moments. Despite this, her character feels a bit underutilized after the previous episode. This definitely makes sense since the focus shifts entirely to the end of the brothers’ journey.

The ending of Life is Strange 2 will definitely depend on the player. For those that developed an investment in the journey, most will enjoy the reward at their conclusion. Others may not get the payoff they expect, but that’s the beauty of a choice-driven game. It’s ultimately up to the player to reach the ending they chose for themselves. Regardless of the ending, Dontnod should be proud of the work that has gone into this beautifully crafted narrative. There are lessons to learn about family, tolerance, and acceptance to give players a better perspective. Wolves continues to offer that. We look forward to seeing more amazing stories from Dontnod, and perhaps Tell Me Why will be the next great one.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

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