Image: Dontnod, IGDB

Life is Strange, a change of heart and of narrative lead

Some franchises are lucky to see a single game in the space of four years. Life is Strange is about to get its third. The first episode of a five-part series introduced the town of Arcadia Bay, where players joined high school student Max Caulfield as she was bestowed the power of time travel, saving best friend Chloe Price and investigating the disappearance of Rachel Amber, all with the backdrop of a looming tornado. Receiving the BAFTA for Best Story in 2016, the game was praised for its relatable characters and storylines, and Ashly Burch would later win a Golden Joystick for her performance as Chloe.

A prequel was announced in 2017, with Life is Strange: Before the Storm developed by US studio Deck Nine, albeit with different voice actors as a result of a union strike. The three-episode series focused on mental health and grief, and the introduction of a new gameplay mechanic called Backtalk to portray Chloe’s rebellious nature during her new relationship with Rachel Amber, set four years before the first series.

The game was far more polished than even the first season

The announcement of The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit took many by surprise; centred on nine-year-old Chris at his home on a Saturday morning. Advertised as a free demo of Life is Strange 2, the game was far more polished than even the first season, with Chris’ toys offering hints of a new gameplay mechanic, while the climax revealed a new power – telekinesis, and two new protagonists – 16-year-old Sean Diaz and his nine-year-old brother Daniel. The pair are fleeing Seattle following the shooting of their father by police after an incident with Sean, Daniel and a neighbour, bound for their hometown of Puerto Lobos in Mexico.

Life is Strange 2 has some clear differences to the first series; instead of being set in a single town over the course of a single week, the story will span a far longer period of time and in different locations as the brothers travel to the border. The same choice and consequence ideas and branching dialogue remain, as does the now unique episodic format following the recent demise of Telltale. In a bid to make neither final choice from the first series canonical, save files from the first game will also be used. The consequences of each decision are greater – every choice you make playing as Sean not only has an impact on the story around you but also on the development of Daniel and his actions in turn.

In a bid to make neither final choice from the first series canonical, save files from the first game will also be used

The franchise is not without issue- Life is Strange games tend to have a final episode problem: while both series so far did very well and captivated players, playing the final episodes felt rushed to many. The change from a female protagonist to two male protagonists may also be taken by some as a betrayal of the game’s identity, but the relatable stories told seem as present as ever.

Life is Strange 2 represents a number of changes to the format that won acclaim in 2015, but with all of the key elements polished and a new unique story set up, it’s an exciting time to be a fan of the series. Come and join in- there are theories to craft!

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