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The Life is Strange franchise is set out to revolutionize story-based choice and consequences games. While incorporating supernatural elements such as super powers, core elements of the franchise are the presentation of authentic and relatable characters and relationships as well as tackling real world issues and complicated subjects (such as loss, grief, depression, bullying and suicide) and raising awareness for these.

Development Edit

In construction.

Games Edit

The original game, Life is Strange, was developed by the French studio Dontnod Entertainment and published by Square Enix, released in 2015. The first episode, "Chrysalis", was released on January 29, 2015. The final episode, "Polarized", was released on October 20, 2015. The game's protagonist is Maxine Caulfield, better known as Max, a shy 18-year-old photography senior who discovers she can rewind time to change the course of events. Back in her hometown Arcadia Bay, a picturesque seaside town in Oregon, Max is reunited with her old friend, Chloe Price, and they start to uncover the truth behind fellow student Rachel Amber's mysterious disappearance, and soon they find themselves exposed to the darker side of Arcadia Bay.

Development on this game actually began in April 2013 with a small team of 15 people. This increased to a staff of 40 after a year when Square Enix stepped in to support production in June 2014.[1][2] On March 6, 2016, the game released in Japan, fully dubbed.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm, the prequel to the events of the first game, was developed by the Denver-based studio Deck Nine Games in collaboration with Square Enix, released in 2017. The first episode, "Awake" was released on August 31, 2017. The prequel introduces Chloe as the playable protagonist and tells the story of Chloe and Rachel's friendship three years prior to the original game's events.

Life is Strange 2 is in development with a new story and new characters by the same team from Dontnod Entertainment that already worked on the first game. It was announced on May 18, 2017, then primarily referred to as a "new Life is Strange game." The first episode, "Rules", was released on September 27, 2018. It follows the two brothers Sean and Daniel Diaz, age 16 and 9, who are forced to run away from home after a tragic incident in Seattle. In fear of the police, they head to Mexico while attempting to conceal a sudden and mysterious supernatural power.

A free self-contained spin-off game that functions as a prequel to the events of the second episode of Life is Strange 2, called The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, was announced during the Microsoft Conference at E3 2018 on June 10, 2018 and released on June 26, 2018. It follows Chris Eriksen, a 9-year-old[note 1] boy who dreams of adventure. Chris is a character Dontnod came up with while working on Life is Strange 2, but they wanted to do something more in-depth with him.[3]

The announcement blog post[4] for Captain Spirit from June 10, 2018, showed Square Enix and Dontnod Entertainment's interest in further expanding the Life is Strange universe:

"For us, Life is Strange is so much more than a single set of characters, places, themes or scenarios - Life is Strange is an entire universe of storytelling founded upon relatable characters facing real world issues, but always with "a twist of the strange" and we have many more stories we want to tell.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is the first step towards showing you the true potential of Life is Strange, and the possibilities of a diverse universe filled with interesting characters and stories to tell."

On December 20, 2018, Square Enix conducted a survey about Life is Strange 2, the Life is Strange franchise in general and its direction. One of the questions which asks to "imagine the future of Life is Strange" implies interest to work on a third season of the franchise. The options gave insight into some of the directions that Square Enix may take Life is Strange, including introducing totally different character types, and even considering an open-world setting. All options were as follows: new cast of characters; new story, setting and power; lead characters with a minority background; male protagonists; sci-fi settings; open-world setting; with a child as a lead character; with an older lead character; agame you can play with friends and family.[5]

Expanding the Universe Edit

Co-Director Michel Koch on why they decided to make an additional game set in the Life is Strange universe:

"Because Life is Strange is not a single set of characters or a single town. It's not just Max and Chloe. For three years now, we've created lots of new characters working on Life is Strange 2, and Captain Spirit is one of them. When we started working on Life is Strange 2, started talking about settings and characters, it was quite a huge story. We saw potential in a lot of characters, to find a bit more about their backstory and their side stories."[6]

Writer Christian Divine: "We love Max and Chloe and these characters, but there are other characters, diverse characters. There’s a whole world and universe of representation we'd like to get to. What other, better way than to put it in this self-contained universe, this particular style of art and animation and performance and music?"[7]

Themes Edit

In an interview about Dontnod's new entries to the franchise from June 2018, Dontnod explained that the studio's goal is to keep its stories grounded in reality.[3]

In the "The Road to Life is Strange 2" developer diary video from September 2018, it was said that the "Life is Strange series is about everyday relatable characters facing universal issues with a twist of the strange".[8]

In an inteview prior to the release of the game, Writer Christian Divine said: "This is a perfect world to explore all of these [themes]—it’s like the world of the Twilight Zone. You could explore all these different social issues along with the repercussions of your decisions, and then you frame it in this really cool Stephen King supernatural framework." Divine explained that King’s stories always combine recognizable human emotions with the supernatural and that Dontnod tries to tap into something similar by using the "Life is Strange vibe" as a guiding creative force.[7]

In an interview with Before the Storm Lead Writer Zak Garriss, he explained that, "it's the prerogative now of the franchise to tackle social issues, to talk about issues that are difficult to talk about, and to take a game and utilize what games have that other media don’t have to explore and open a dialogue around things like bullying or depression or domestic assault or sexual assault: what it’s like to be a teenager."[9]

Supernatural Abilities Edit

The supernatural abilities of Dontnod Entertainment's main characters, such as Max Caulfield, Daniel Diaz (and Chris Eriksen), are specifically designed based on the characters' personalities, struggles or goals. In Life is Strange, the rewind mechanism serves

Co-Director and Writer Michel Koch explained in an interview: "We knew that we wanted to use this [rewind] mechanism as a tool, as a metaphor, to tell this coming-of-age story. To tell a story about growing up, about realizing that sometimes you need to stop looking backwards and wanting to change everything."[6]

"The fact that [Max’s power] is a supernatural element is mostly used as a contrast to the human and real-life things we are dealing with. We are big fans of the books by Stephen King. He's so good at anchoring a real world scenario with believable characters and real-life issues, but then using one supernatural or horror element to bring chaos on top of that."[6]

Setting Edit

The Life is Strange games are all set in the Pacific Northwest. The setting was originally researched and established for the original game Life is Strange and later adapted for the following installments.

From early on, when working on the original Life is Strange, the developers team wanted the game's environment to be based on a small town on the coastline of Oregon. The main reference for the town of Arcadia Bay was Astoria, a city on the hillside of Oregon, but it was way too big for the setting they were aiming for. Eventually they found Garibaldi, a much smaller town which was working well with its main street running along the coast.[7]

Creative Director Jean-Maxime Moris said that, "the Pacific Northwest was something that we determined very early in the development process as the place we wanted to set the game in. That's because we wanted to have this very nostalgic and autumnal feel to the game, and in terms of colors ... to me it's really one of those places that brings this kind of nostalgia, and I mean this in a positive way. This sense of looking inside yourself".[10]

The game's setting took inspiration from the 90s American mystery drama television series Twin Peaks which also takes place in the Pacific Northwest and glimpses behind the seemingly pleasant curtain of small town America to reveal its darkest secrets. 

...

"We tried our best to make sure that the game is as close to reality as possible. We searched the Internet to see what cities in Oregon looked like to figure out (in overview) what Arcadia Bay would look like. We knew that it’s a small town on the coastline of Oregon, and we know it’s main points of interest are the school, the diner and Chloe’s house. The main reference for the city was Astoria, a city on the hillside, but it was way too big. After that we found Garibaldi, a much smaller town which was working well with it’s main street being along the coast (well… almost).

Google Street View helped a whole lot since we couldn’t afford to go there. I took a ton of screenshots and based the concept art around them. If you look it up, you’ll see that it’s main street is pretty close to the one we have in-game.

The other locations (the school, diner, junkyard and even the lighthouse) are taken from various locations from around the United States. There were ample photo references to base it all off of. Typical concept art work."[7]

Other Edit

[3]

Story Edit

Life is Strange Edit

The first installment of the series, Life is Strange tells the story of Max, an 18-year-old girl who returns to her hometown, Arcadia Bay, to study photography at the prestigious Blackwell Academy. Max discovers she can rewind time after having a vision of an apocalyptic tornado and witnessing a gruesome accident, and reconnects with her old childhood friend, Chloe. Together they start to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Rachel Amber, Chloe's closest friend next to Max.

Before the Storm Edit

The second game of the series and a prequel to Life is Strange, set three years prior to the main game's events. It tells the story of 16-year-old Chloe Price and her unlikely friendship with Blackwell's star Rachel Amber, and how both try to overcome their personal problems with the help of each other.

Captain Spirit Edit

The third game of the series and a prologue for Life is Strange 2. The Awesome Adventures Of Captain Spirit tells the story of Chris Eriksen, a 9-year-old kid with a very active imagination, which he uses as a form of escapism from his dysfunctional home life.

Life is Strange 2 Edit

Life is Strange 2 tells the story of Sean Diaz and Daniel Diaz, two brothers who are on the run from the authorities after a tragic accident in their hometown of Seattle. Life on the road is hard and Sean must take care of his little brother and make difficult choices to survive, all of which will have an impact on the impressionable Daniel.

Gallery Edit

Social Media Edit

System Requirements Edit

Life is Strange Edit

Minimum: Recommended:
OS: Windows Vista OS: Windows 7
Processor: Dual Core 2.0GHz or equivalent Processor: Dual Core 3.0GHz or equivalent
Memory: 2 GB RAM Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: ATI or NVidia card w/ 512 MB RAM (not recommended for Intel HD Graphics cards) Graphics: ATI or NVidia card w/ 1024 MB RAM (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 or ATI HD 4890)
DirectX: Version 9.0 DirectX: Version 9.0
Hard Drive: 3 GB available space Hard Drive: 3 GB available space

Before the Storm Edit

Minimum: Recommended:
OS: Windows 7 or above (64-bit) OS: Windows 10 (64-bit)
Processor: Intel Core i3-2100 (3.1 GHz) or AMD Phenom X4 945 (3.0 GHz) Processor: Intel Core i3-6100 (3.7 GHz) or AMD Athlon X4 845 (3.5 GHz)
Memory: 3GB RAM Memory: 6GB RAM
Graphics: AMD Radeon R7 250 (2GB) or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 (2GB) Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 460 (4GB) or NVIDIA GeForce 1050 (4GB)
DirectX: Version 11 DirectX: Version 11
Hard Drive: 14 GB available space Hard Drive: 14 GB available space

Note: 32-bit operating systems will not be supported.

Captain Spirit Edit

Minimum: Recommended:
OS: Windows 7 or above (64-bit) OS: Windows 10 (64-bit)
Processor: Intel Core i3-2100 (3.1GHz) or AMD Phenom X4 945 (3.0GHz) Processor: Intel Core i5 3470, (3.20 Ghz) or AMD FX-8350, (4.00 Ghz)
Memory: 4GB RAM Memory: 6GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 2GB or AMD Radeon HD 7770 2GB Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 4GB or AMD Radeon R9 280X 3GB
DirectX: Version 11 DirectX: Version 11
Hard Drive: 5 GB available space Hard Drive: 5 GB available space

Note: 32-bit operating systems will not be supported.

Life is Strange 2 Edit

Minimum: Recommended:
OS: Windows 7 or above (64-bit) OS: Windows 10 (64-bit)
Processor: Intel Core i3-2100 (3.1GHz) or AMD Phenom X4 945 (3.0GHz) Processor: Intel Core i5 3470, (3.20 Ghz) or AMD FX-8350, (4.00 Ghz)
Memory: 4GB RAM Memory: 6GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 2GB or AMD Radeon HD 7770 2GB Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 4GB or AMD Radeon R9 280X 3GB
DirectX: Version 11 DirectX: Version 11
Hard Drive: 14 GB available space Hard Drive: 14 GB available space

Note: 32-bit operating systems will not be supported.

Reception Edit

The original Life is Strange received generally favourable reviews, with a Metacritic score of 85/100 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. While some reviewers criticised the games's lip-syncing and use of dated slang, they lauded the character development and time travel component, suggesting that there should be more games like it.

The first episode was ranked fifth among the best selling PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 video games of February 2015. Life Is Strange reached one million sales in July 2015,

Awards and Nominations Edit

Date Award Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result
2015 Develop Industry Excellence Awards New Games IP – PC/console Life Is Strange Won
Use of Narrative Won
Golden Joystick Awards Best Original Game Won Silver Runner-Up
Best Storytelling Won Silver Runner-Up
Best Audio Won Silver Runner-Up
Best Gaming Moment Saving Kate Won Bronze Third
Performance of the Year Ashly Burch as Chloe Won
Game of the Year Life Is Strange Won Bronze Third
Global Game Awards Best Adventure Life Is Strange – Episode 1 Won
Best Story Won Silver Second
Best Original Game Won
Game of the Year Won Silver Second
The Game Awards Best Narrative Life Is Strange Nominated
Best Performance Ashly Burch as Chloe Nominated
Games for Impact Life Is Strange Won
PlayStation Official Magazine Best Episodic Adventure Won
Best Moment Episode 2 conclusion Won
Vice Canada

Template:'s Top 20 video games of 2015

Best Game Life Is Strange Won Bronze Fourth
Vulture Top 10 video games of 2015 Won
Red Bull Games' Top 10 video games of 2015 Won Silver Second
Polygon's Games of the Year 2015 Game of the Year Won Bronze Seventh
Destructoid's Best of 2015 Best Xbox One Game Nominated
Eurogamer's Top 10 video games of 2015 Best Game Won Bronze Tenth
Ars Technica Won
Giant Bomb Best Moment or Sequence End of Episode 2 Won
2016 New Statesman Top 10 video games of 2015 Best Game Life Is Strange Won
Hardcore Gamer Best of 2015 Best Adventure Game Won Silver (2nd)
PlayStation Blog's Best of 2015 Best PS4 Game Nominated
Best Story Won Gold Second
Best Soundtrack Won Bronze Runner-Up
Best Digital-Only Release Won Gold Runner-Up
D.I.C.E. Awards Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction Nominated
Adventure Game of the Year Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Character Max Caulfield Nominated
Game Developers Choice Awards Audience Award Life Is Strange Won
SXSW Gaming Awards Excellence in Narrative Nominated
Most Promising New Intellectual Property Nominated
Matthew Crump Cultural Innovation Award Nominated
National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Art Direction, Contemporary Nominated
Character Design Won
Direction in a Game Cinema Nominated
Game Design, New IP Nominated
Original Light Mix Score, New IP Won
Song, Original or Adapted Life Is Strange – "To All of You" Won
Song Collection Life Is Strange Nominated
Writing in a Drama Nominated
Game, Original Adventure Nominated
British Academy Games Awards Best Game Nominated
Game Innovation Nominated
Original Property Nominated
Performer Ashly Burch Nominated
Story Life Is Strange Won
Peabody-Facebook Futures of Media Awards Excellence and Innovation in Digital Storytelling Won
The Games for Change Awards Game of the Year Won
Most Significant Impact Won
Best Gameplay Nominated
Most Innovative Nominated
Japan Game Awards Game Designers Award Won
Apple's Best of 2016 Game of the Year Won
Steam Awards "I'm Not Crying, There's Something In My Eye" Nominated

External Links Edit

Main article: Official Social Media Accounts


Notes Edit

  1. The initial marketing messaging incorrectly stated his age to be 10. Square Enix's and Dontnod's Community Managers both have confirmed that he is 9, close to 10. The Steam product description also mentions this age.

References Edit

  1. (reference needed)
  2. Donntod Entertainment: Discover Our Story
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit will pick up three years after Life is Strange (June 15, 2018)
  4. Announcing the Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
  5. Life is Strange 3: Square Enix Probes Community With Revealing Survey (December 20, 2018)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 25 minutes with Life is Strange 2's brilliantly unexpected free prequel (June 10, 2018)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Life Is Strange 2 is Dontnod’s chance to build gaming’s Twilight Zone (September 12, 2018)
  8. Official tweet
  9. Life is Strange: Before the Storm Interview — Making a Real Story About Teenage Life (October 4, 2017)
  10. Life Is Strange Gameplay Preview Interview (August 27, 2014)
  11. Twitter post
  12. Twitter post