Dontnod Entertainment has announced that they are working on a follow-up to the popular Pacific Northwest set teenage drama Life Is Strange. Development was announced very briefly in a video with the dev team stating “We are working on a new Life is Strange game, with the Life is Strange team, and we cannot wait to share more about this with you”.
There are no other details at this time, other than a tumblr post the team made, again stating that they will share more later. It’s safe to say that there will be no presentation at E3 this year, but perhaps later in time, we’ll get more information.
(Spoilers for the first Life is Strange to follow)
Life Is Strange has increased in popularity since the game’s release in 2015, and left a deep impression with its fans, so a new game is warmly welcomed. But after finishing the game with Max’s – and the players – major final decision, a follow up begs the question of what could the sequel even be about? Could it be a continuation of Max’s journey? If so, what happens to the player and the story if they chose to save or sacrifice Chloe? Will we finally see Max and Warren go to see Planet of the Apes at the Drive-In in Newberg?
While the first game was captivating and fun, it was definitely not without some glaring flaws. While we don’t know what to expect from the follow-up title, now is as good a time as any to dig into the original Life Is Strange and discuss what changes we can hope for in the new game.
Cast and Setting Change:
In an interview with Polygon at E3 in 2015, producers said they if they were to add another season, it would have a new cast. I’m hoping the new game does include an all new cast and moves away from Arcadia Bay. As accurately as it portrayed small town coastal life in Oregon, I was exhausted by Arcadia Bay by the end of the game. However, I would still really like the story to continue being set somewhere in Oregon, but hey, maybe I’m just little biased, being a die-hard Oregonian myself.
Cut the Mini-Games:
The type of player that engages with something like Life is Strange is one that will fully explore an area, read the extra text, and will happily dig for stray bits of information in an effort to fully immerse themselves in the virtual world. So there’s no need to force a player to do those things. A lot of times in the first game, I would fully explore an area, only to have an NPC make me do it again, as though the developers didn’t trust that I, as a player, would do it. That happened several times in Blackwell Academy, but the one that stands out to me, and other players is when Max has to go find bottles for Chloe to shoot at in the junkyard. I already fully explored the junkyard myself only to have Chloe tell me to go explore it again. It came to be very frustrating because I was hearing the same information over and over again.
Trim The Content:
As much as I appreciate the wealth of knowledge and information that Life is Strange provided to the player, I honestly think it could be cut down more. Every time the timeline would change, Max’s diary would change too, and I never read it because, frankly, I ain’t got time for that. I wanted to get on with the story, and although I like having a lot of content to read in adventure games, I think Life Is Strange could benefit from trimming some of the fat from the content, or providing significant, new story-driven content that does not feel repetitious or unnecessary.
Fix The Dialogue:
In Life Is Strange, the dialogue, most of the time, felt incredibly forced in regard to the way the writers attempted to include Oregon-hipster slang, like “hella” (which we don’t say). It made the dialogue between characters muddy and hard to decipher in important scenes, and personally, took me out of the story. I think a little bit of slang peppered in is fine and even encouraged, but basing entire sentence structures out of slang can be a little too much to handle when the game is so dialogue-heavy.
Take Bigger Story Risks:
There could be bigger impacts on the narrative. I thought it was a bit peculiar that all the choices made prior could become null in one fell swoop with the final decision in the end. Taking more of a risk with actions that can decisively change the narrative could really benefit the game structure in Life is Strange. I LOVED being able to change the decisions I made by reversing time but felt underwhelmed when the choices I made didn’t have that big of an effect outside of a character just getting a little mad at me. More risks in narrative changes are highly encouraged for the future endeavor.
More Weird Stuff Sooner:
The last two episodes of Life is Strange is what make the game for me. The first few episodes were pedantic and slow-moving, and maybe for a purpose when you consider the five episodes as a whole, but the next game could be benefited by incorporating the insane science fiction elements sooner. Establishing Blackwell and Arcadia Bay felt drawn out and the bizarre post-modern elements at the end felt too short. A good balance of both the life and the strange would be greatly beneficial to the coming game.
As much as some things need to change for the next Life is Strange, the first installment is still a deep and impactful game that, for one thing, made me appreciate my own state even more, but also lead me to question the limitless possibilities of narrative games. It really made me question the impacts we, as players, can have on characters of both a large and small scale. The ramifications of choice and the idea that the player can change and shape destiny to their will or the will of others is an impressive feat to conquer, and the developers at Dontnod have already crushed it once. Time will only tell what the future game will hold, but for now, we can simply play Life is Strange, dig into the story, listen to the soundtrack and play it again.