Life is Strange 2 Episode 2: Rules begins with Sean and Daniel surviving through the winter. Taking advantage of supplies obtained in the last episode and sleeping in an abandoned vacation home, the brothers have spent roughly a month and a half trying to stay fed and warm. Also, since the sad secret that their father died in the chaotic prologue thanks in part to Daniel’s unexplained telekinetic abilities, Sean has been helping his brother learn to strengthen and control his gift.
It is only with their supplies completely depleted that they move to the closest allies they have: their grandparents in the small town of Beaver Creek. They ultimately adopt the boys and take them in, but how long will that asylum last with the law still looking for them is anyone’s guess.
In a lot of ways, Episode 2 draws from superhero origin stories. Sean gives Daniel a code of conduct for when it’s appropriate to use his powers. Keep the powers secret or else people will talk. Using it for personal gain is morally wrong. All classic staples of the genre. But it still manages to present them in a grounded, believable format; a melodramatic mix that developer Dontnod practically have down to a science. But the choice ultimately falls to you on how strict you want Daniel to adhere to that code, with some pretty difficult moral choices and decisions peppered throughout.
There’s even a sort of commentary on such fanciful material being tied to childhood whimsy and innocence. The most overt example of this being when the brothers eventually make it to Beaver Creek and meet an eccentric neighbor’s kid, Chris. Or as he likes to be called: The Amazing Captain Spirit. The character was the focus of a free spin-off episode, but unfortunately I didn’t have time to check it out.
Difficult moral choices aside, Episode 2 is probably the most mellow compared to the anxiety-inducing “young fugitives on the run” tension of the past episode. After making it to their grandparents’ place, the whole thing turns into a mild slice of life for Sean and Daniel. Long stretches of dialogue, doing chores, humoring the wild imagination of Captain Spirit as he runs around with his yellow cape on, and getting to know various residents of the town. It was a refreshing change of pace not having to ration out dollar bills or be concerned with trying to steal food, and it helps give the episode its own distinct identity and purpose in the overall narrative of the season.
There is a mystery of sorts hovering over the whole thing regarding the brothers’ estranged mother. The folks don’t want to talk about it, and the door to her old bedroom is locked. It does lead to some telling revelations in the episode’s finale when the peace finally breaks like glass, but the build-up can feel like so much wasted time if you are the type to just get to the point.
Life is Strange 2 Episode 2 keeps the focus of the story where it needs to be and continues to flesh out its characters and world. The moral choices and emotional beats are handled well. How you choose to handle Daniel – and how he ultimately changes – continues to pop up in believable ways. Not a whole lot happens to change the main characters’ goals or motivations, but the family dynamic between the brothers and their relatives is so potent that it helps carry things by itself. Here’s hoping this keeps going into the next episode.