Life is Strange 2 Episodes 2 & 3

Episode 2

Was it really 4 months previously that I played the first episode? Dontnod took quite awhile to release the next episode, and for as slow and little plot progress this episode has, I have to wonder.

Taking place right after the first episode, Daniel is lifting rocks and other objects like it’s no big deal now, and Sean is pushing him to keep “training” and refining this supposedly new power (I’m not entirely convinced during episode 1 was the first time Daniel has discovered and used his power). Having left Seattle, the brothers head towards their grandparents in Oregon after Daniel becomes ill, likely due to the winter cold and an abandoned house providing little relief.

At their grandparents house Sean and Daniel try to learn more about their mother, but they don’t get much information, even after getting into their mother’s childhood room. While at the house they see the neighbor boy Chris (yep, this is where Captain Spirit ties in) fall from his treehouse, and Daniel uses his power to save him. Unfortunately Chris believes he is the one with the power, which will play into the ending of this episode. During their stay Sean and Daniel go to a Christmas market, where they meet train-hoppers Finn and Cassidy (which will factor into Episode 3).

Near the end of the episode Sean and Daniel discover a letter from their mother, expressing her desire to meet her children. After an argument with their grandparents, Sean and Daniel have to escape when the police arrive at the house. In an unexplained twist Claire distracts the police so they can escape, and Chris’ actions factor in here. I won’t give away what can happen, but I hope no matter what it will be addressed by the end of the game.

The episode ends with Sean and Daniel getting onto a train going south, with an outstanding closing track by First Aid kit (which I wrote about here). It was hard to judge how I felt about this episode. Looking back, not very much happens, and besides a few key interaction it’s still just Sean and Daniel. I suppose that’s the point of the game (and the first one was mostly Max and Chloe), but for some reason here it just gets too repetitive. I think it’s because the brothers never have any time apart, and it’s mostly back-and-forth bickering and whining about tough times.

Episode 3

For still unknown reasons, Sean is encouraging Daniel to train and use his powers. Even more obvious in this episode is how whiny Daniel is. Yes, we get he’s a little kid who’s been through a lot. But why he’s allowed to work on a pot farm along with Sean (yeah, I know) I’m not sure. Even more incredulous is that they somehow met up again with Finn and Cassidy!

Sean and Daniel, along with Finn, Cassidy, and several others have a nice campsite in California. We’ll learn later on that nearby is where Big Joe lives, pot dealer Merrill’s second-in-command and oversees the workers. When not working they hang out here, around the kitchen table, campfire, or down at the lake. Daniel becomes jealous of Sean spending more time with them rather than him.

One day at work Merrill calls everyone (except for Daniel) into his office, where he is evidently going to pay them). But before he does Big Joe comes in holding Daniel, claiming he was sneaking into Merrill’s office. As punishment Merrill doesn’t pay any of them, and fires Sean. When Merrill also tells Big Joe to punish Daniel, he must use his power, which the others witness. They swear to keep it a secret, but at a farewell party that night Finn keeps trying to convince Sean they can use Daniel’s power to get back at Merrill.

Near the end this episode ramps up the music and drama, but yet again it’s simply the result of Daniel freaking out and using his power in an uncontrollable manner. Finn talks Sean into breaking into the safe for the money, and Sean and Cassidy try to intercept them before they get caught by Merrill and/or Big Joe. Merrill does catch them, pointing his shotgun at them and telling them to get on their knees. Daniel unleashes his power and destroys the house, as well as knocking everyone around, some quite violently. The last shot is a still-unconscious Sean with a shard of glass in an eye.

Conclusion

I’m still not sure what to think of Daniel, Sean, and all of the characters. Even after 3 episodes I just don’t know if I care what’s happened to any of them. This is a staggering contrast to the first Life is Strange, or even Before the Storm. Sometimes I have to wonder if this is actually the same developers. Was Dontnod so keen to capitalize on the success of the first game they rushed to bring something similar out, using the same series title? There’s two more episodes to go, and I hope we get a lot more insight into Sean and Daniel’s mother, and perhaps even callbacks to previous characters, namely Layla, Brody, and Chris. I’m not sure if they’ll indeed end up in Mexico, or perhaps will return to Seattle. Perhaps for the latter, the truth of the officer’s actions will surface, leading to Sean and Daniel no longer considered fugitives.

Dungeon Synth

Introduction

A couple years ago I posted a Bandcamp find for Thangorodrim, a dungeon synth artist. Since then I’ve occasionally searched for more of that kind of music on Bandcamp, and in this post I wanted to highlight my favorite artists I’ve discovered so far.

Note: along with dungeon synth, many if not most are also tagged and categorized in genres such as ambient, electronic ambient, dark ambient, medieval, medieval folk, and more!

DIM

Fief

Old Sorcery

Sequestered Keep

Wyvernsnout

Conclusion

Like any genre this is just scracthing the surface of what’s out there. Bandcamp has actually written several articles on this genre (links: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5!), and just like their other writings it’s a great way to delve deeper into this genre. I know I’ll keep exploring this unique and fascinating style of music, and perhaps one day might even try my hand at composing a track myself.

Bandcamp find: Łukasz Kapuściński

On occasion I like to listen to acoutic/classical guitar played on its own, whether it’s classical music, baroque, folk, fantasy, doesn’t matter. Recently I discovered
Łukasz Kapuściński, and the subtlely of his playing is exactly what I like. It’s also an encouragement for my own playing, a reminder that I don’t need to focus on speed, technical ability, etc. It’s more about the emotion, the atmosphere, especially that unique to the guitar.

Bandcamp find: Megan McDuffee

I’ve seen Megan’s name several times on the Newretrowave YouTube channel, but didn’t know she was also a game soundtrack composer. Her latest release, Hostile Takeover, sounds like it could be right out of a Deus Ex game! It’s very laid back and chill, a nice break from hectic and gritty synth work that seems to dominate today. I highly recommend listening to it, and at just $6 it’s a bargain!

My Favorite Drummers

Several years ago I posted my favorite guitarists. Now, it’s time to list drummers.

Emmanuelle Caplette

I first found Emmanuelle’s Youtube channel way back when I was searching for jazz drumming videos. During the first video of hers I watched, I was just astounded at how relaxed and fun her playing looked! You could tell she had put in the hard work on fundamentals, timing, etc. but didn’t look so serious when playing, and also not showing off. I’m not a huge jazz person, but for inspiration in that style I am a fan of Emmanuelle.

Danny Carey

Brace yourselves, but I’m not the biggest Tool fan in the world (gasp, clutch those pearls!). However, the incredible poly-rhythms that Danny Carey employs in his playing is unbelievable. For the one track of Tool’s I’d pick to appreciate his playing, I’d have to go with The Pot.

Randy Castillo

As the drummer for many of Ozzy Osbourne’s albums – The Ultimate Sin, No Rest for the Wicked, and No More Tears – Randy Castillo‘s playing has had a huge influence on my life; in fact, far more and longer than I really knew for such a long time. Those albums, along with Ozzy’s earlier solo albums, where almost literally all I listened to for the teenage years of my life. While I may have focused more on the guitar playing back then, it was the drumming that I came to appreciate, and on those prime Ozzy albums Randy’s playing is big, thunderous, and larger than life. If there’s one track I’d recommend to best show this, I’d have to go with The Ultimate Sin.

Stewart Copeland

As a huge fan of The Police, I have come to admire the reggae-styled chops of Stewart Copeland. As a true supporting player and solid foundation of a band, especially a trio, Stewart always plays what’s needed for the song first, and then adding a sprinkling of style and flash on top of it. If I could choose anyone’s ability and style, it might just have to be Stewart’s.

Gene Hoglan

Widely known as “The Atomic Clock”, I don’t think you can find any more impeccable, fast, and downright tight drumming than from Gene Hoglan. Starting with Dark Angel, I know him best as the drummer for Dethklok (do you folks like coffee?), and for that alone he’s on this list. He has played for Death, Fear Factory (check out Powershifter!) and Testament among numerous other bands, and he has ably fit into each of those bands and helped pushed each to their playing limits. For a true consulate gentleman and professional drummer, you can’t do much if any better than Gene Hoglan.

Dave Lombardo

As a co-founding member of Slayer, Dave Lombardo brings speed, impeccable timing, and Cuban-inspired rhythm to one of the greatest thrash metal bands. While no longer a member, his work will always exemplify the best of what both talent and hard work can showcase when it comes to drumming. I personally don’t think anyone besides Gene Hoglan can even come close to Dave’s speed and double-bass drumming (seriously, check out when he played Raining Blood at a clinic; he had to stop the playback because it was too slow!).

Neil Peart

One of the greatest rock trios with some of the most talented musicians, this list HAD to have Rush’s Neil Peart on it! While they’ve released albums for several decades now, I’m more familiar with Rush’s earlier works. My favorite Rush track that also really highlights Neil’s playing is Subdivisions.

Kristina Schiano

I first found Kristina’s Youtube channel while searching for drum cover videos. My initial finds listed her covers for Paramore, but the more I looked into her channel over time she has added a nice variety of covers. My current favorites are her covers of Your Betrayal and What’s Wrong.