"I just wish it had a bit more of a wolf's bite."
Life is Strange 2 has a habit of ending each of its episodes more tragically than the last, and that was certainly true in Episode 3. We pick up with the logical transition in the fourth episode, still uncertain of the Diaz brothers' fates. Thus far, the series has meandered as consistently as the brothers themselves, with Puerto Lobos in the crosshairs despite distractions of necessity. Those who've followed the series know that Episode 4 is a different excursion.
The "long arm of the law" is never far behind, and neither is systemic and individual racism. Sean is once again reminded of the vast hurdles in front of him, yet he's ever mindful of what's important. In this way, he earns our respect, but since we're somewhat acting as Sean's brain, we get to experience this world through his lens. While our reactions may not change the flow of the primary narrative, they certainly impact character interactions.
Given the entirely new setting, several fresh faces reveal themselves, and although the harsh realities of life as a minority in the US are hard to shake, friendly strangers are just as present. In this way, Episode 4 can feel a little like rinse and repeat, but the experience maintains a degree of freshness. Those who've taken issue with Daniel's youthful personality will find much to remain frustrated about, but given the context, I still find him believable.
Serving as the second-to-last installment in this five-episode series, I'm surprised at where this entry lands, but I'm satisfied enough that I am eager to see what fate has in store for the Diaz brothers. I can't say I feel the same degree of urgency and "oomph" that other series have inspired, though. Not that every story needs to feature the same dramatic structure and emotional relevance, but in an era where adventure titles are some of the most prevalent games in production, every series (episodic or otherwise) needs to offer something stimulating.
The decisions in Episode 4 are probably the most modest to date, and the climax feels more on-rails than any other episode's so far. Even points in the episode that were supposed to be intense felt as if they were missing a sense of urgency. Exploration portions seemed like they might even include some stealth mechanics but felt completely devoid of tension.
Episode 4 released on day one with some technical hiccups, but a quick patch fixed almost all of the issues, and I had a smooth experience. DONTNOD maintains the art style and direction without changing up the camera work or presentation, which is fine, just not stellar. The voice actors carry the script capably, as always, and the music accentuates things a bit, though not nearly as much as earlier Life is Strange series.
The fourth entry in the series is enjoyable and worth most people's time. I question how much it has added to the characters and story beyond fixing the issue introduced in Episode 3. Even the newly introduced characters feel anticlimactic. I'd almost call this entry filler. In truth, describing Episode 4 to fence-sitters won't sell the series, and those who've bought in up to this point will have little reason to turn away from the penultimate installment. I just wish it had a bit more of a wolf's bite.
This review is based on a free review copy provided to RPGFan by the developer. This relationship in no way influenced the reviewer's opinion of the game or its final score.