Four months almost feels like forever, doesn’t it? After the initial gut punch of Episode 1 Roads, it felt good to get back in the saddle with the second chapter of Life is Strange 2, aptly named Rules. A month has passed since the Sean and Daniel Diaz set off on their journey to Puerto Lobos, waiting out the winter in an abandoned cabin in the Oregon Mountains. Their new lives as runaways has come to a standstill as the boys etch out their existence surviving off of canned ravioli and freezing river water. It’s not a perfect existence, but despite their plight the brothers have managed to carved out a small home for themselves and their puppy Mushroom, who brings some much needed cheerfulness to these bleak settings.
Sean has continued to grow and learn since his father’s death and in his notebook has recorded the hardships him and Daniel have faced so far. From sleeping in homeless shelters Sean exclaiming how excited he is to find food when he goes dumpster diving tugs at the heartstrings. He’s shocked by how much food is wasted, and I don’t know if his realization should make me smile or cry because it’s so true.
Sticking to the themes of the first episode, I steered Sean towards being responsible when it came to encouraging Daniel to keeping trying when lifting rocks and tin cans to gain a greater control of his powers. The theme of “rules” comes into play early as the older Diaz brother drives home the importance of hiding those same powers from the outside world – yet concedes they can be used as a last resort in a dire situation.
There’s a very Spiderman-ish vibe going on here, with Uncle Ben’s famous “with great power comes great responsibility” line lingering in the background as Daniel explores the grey areas of having such power at his fingertips.
Sean and Daniel continue on their journey and start to uncover harsh truths not only about themselves, but an parental figure I assumed was dead in the last episode. It’s revealed their mom left under mysterious circumstances and the reasons to her disappearance is never explores. It’s hinted at multiple times throughout the episode, but an underlying bitterness precedes the air whenever she’s brought up. Even when the boys reach a safe haven with their grandparents (their mother’s parents) no answers are given as to why she left in first place.
Captain Spirit, aka Chris, also makes an appearance this episode alongside his father and we finally get to see the effect of the choices made prior to the release of Life is Strange 2. Turns out, our pint-sized superhero lives next door to Sean and Daniel’s grandparents! Chris’s inclusion didn’t hit home at first until the last scene from The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit plays out and shows Daniel using his powers to save the other boy on impulse. The two naturally become friends, but this raises a bigger issue later on: does Sean urge Daniel to tell Chris the truth, or let him sink further into his superhero persona? It’s a tough call with Chris’s situation, but don’t true heroes make sure the truth prevails, no matter what the outcome?
Not all heroes are perfect, however, and the idea of parental figures having their own faults and insecurities plays a larger role here. There’s a touching moment where Chris’s father, Charles, confides in Sean he knows he’s not doing the greatest job of being the best role model his son needs. The threat of his neighbors calling social services on him, the loss of his wife, and on top of it all being a single father has started to weigh on Charles immensely. It’s fair to note, Charles and the late Senor Diaz are the polar opposites of one another, with one father taking the absence of his wife in stride to provide for his sons while the other is overwhelmed by the hurdles life has set before him.
For me, it just goes to show that as all-powerful as adults seem to me as a kid, at the end of the day they’re still only human. Even the most loving parents can crack under pressure and it’s hard to pick themselves up again whether it’s for themselves or their children.
Despite only being the second episode (of the second Life is Strange series), Episode 2 – Rules often felt like it pushed players to look past surfaces and to really get to know the soul of the person shining through. Charles isn’t the perfect father, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have potential to be the dad his son will need moving forward. Despite the loss of his own father, Sean still gets up each day not knowing what the future will bring and does his best to teach his younger brother good values to live by. And isn’t that what being a true superhero is all about?