It feels like quite a while since the last episode in May but Sean and Daniel continue their journey on this road that only seems to head to dead ends and harsh consequences for the poor decisions I keep making. It has been starting to feel more like Studio Ghibli’s Grave of the Fireflies in which there is just no hope and just as I start to truly believe that, the forth episode aptly named Faith, arrives. I will try not to reveal too many spoilers in my overall thoughts of the episode however it will be a little difficult to avoid everything therefore I will choose my words carefully but be warned, there are some spoilers ahead.
The end of the previous episode left me a little shocked. The injury sustained by Sean and not knowing what happened to Daniel as a result just seemed to leave us in a bad place to start the next episode. As expected, the incident that occurred did not go unnoticed and Sean finds himself under medical care with ‘juvie’ incoming. While the opening started to fill in some of the gaps and luckily Sean’s self pity for his injury wasn’t too over the top to be irritating, we are left wondering what happened to Daniel and how we will ever reunite. Eventually all of the pieces came together and we were back on the road to try and find the small powerful one who was luckily helped by one of the kids at the farm.
The game once again shows us the best and worst of people. With a couple of racists picking on Sean (react how you will, I decided to try and not retaliate too much) but then is met with an act of kindness although I was skeptical to begin with. This made me think back to the first episode and the people we met there showing us the good and the bad which sadly we all experience at some point in our lives no matter our race, gender, religion or anything else that people feel like pouncing on to punish, humiliate or abuse others. However, no sooner have I said this and then we come to the main problem of the episode.
Daniel has been taken in by a religious community who believe him to be a miracle due to his powers, it becomes apparent to Sean that his brother is being used and manipulated by this community and it’s not going to be easy to get him out. I could see where this was going and it’s a tricky subject matter to deal with as it was in Far Cry 5 only they were a little more extreme than the cult we meet in this episode of Life is Strange. Fortunately, Sean has an ally who is the last person he would expect or want to see. This reunion with Karen, while awkward was quite a nice change of pace in many ways. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of Daniel and find him to be quite irritating so to have a good break from him was not only enjoyable for me personally and allowed me to engage more with the story, but also gave an opportunity to learn what happened and why. But with allies in tow, will Sean be able to get Daniel out of the hands of the cult? That will be down to you.
The episode felt quite heavy overall with the subject matter and the journey to get to Daniel. Sean is going through a lot for his brother and he keeps getting up and fighting… if you play it that way of course. It’s not necessarily a bad thing though as a lot of ground was covered from a background perspective for the protagonists of the piece. I did roll my eyes slightly when the cult aspect came up but it wasn’t that it was obvious that it had to happen because of the explainable powers Daniel has. It just left me feeling a little unsatisfied that it was the direction that has been taken and felt like another situation in which Daniel will take a side forcing Sean to have to do something to get the kid out of it. In a way, it would have been nicer if the choices you had to make were more to do with the repercussions of the previous episode. This however, is my personal thought on the direction this episode took and looking back, it doesn’t make it a bad episode overall.
Aside from this, there are some nice opportunities to draw again, albeit with a little more artistic flair as Sean tries to live with his injury. These are a little more brief than before but there is at least more than one to keep you entertained. The conversations with Karen are worth delving into, unless you are trying to make all of the choices that make Sean an abrasive grump. I tried to be open and at least filled in some of the gaps that I had been wondering about since we learned that she had left. As always, the music is on point creating the atmosphere and accompaniment that is required for this episode. I always feel that this is still something that is achieved in every installment and the soundtrack never disappoints.
Overall, I felt episode four served its purpose in reuniting characters even if it’s not under the best of circumstances. While I personally was not overly enamored with the religious community direction, I’m glad that it was only the second half of the episode that was impacted by it. Fortunately, this story needs to keep moving forward and as a result we don’t stay in one place too long. The only positive about the cult aspect was the double meaning of ‘faith’, not only faith in what was being preached but the faith the Diaz brothers have in each other and whether it is as strong a bond as we would hope. I’m not entirely sure how the final episode will pan out but I am certainly intrigued as to how all of the awful decisions I have managed to make over the course of the game will impact it. I just hope the Diaz brothers can stick together this time and maybe have something good happen for a change… but then again, it wouldn’t be Life is Strange if things were simple, would it?