– This article was originally posted on 2nd April 2018. It, and other articles, are being archived and updated here for continuity and collection, which is why parts of it may seem out of date. –
The episodic Life is Strange series recently wrapped up the story arc that covered the original game and prequel Life is Strange: Before the Storm. Bonus episode Farewell gave us a peek at a fateful day in the history of main characters Max Caulfield and Chloe Price, uncovering a new layer of their relationship whilst also giving them a final send-off (bringing back original voice actors Hannah Telle and Ashly Burch). Ash Harrison and I – both huge fans of Life is Strange – have now played the Farewell episode, so it is time to talk about our impressions!
-SPOILER WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE LIFE IS STRANGE SERIES AHEAD-
William Robinson: I took my time – though it’s nothing compared to my still not playing Super Mario Odyssey – but I finished the Farewell episode that concludes the Max Caulfield/Chloe Price story in the Life is Strange universe. There’s no way we can do this without spoilers, so let’s get that warning out of the way… We’re both pretty massive Life is Strange fans here, so this felt like the end of a long journey. It’s amazing when I think back to the first time I played Episode 1 back in 2015…
Ashley Harrison: Has it really been that long? Jesus. It feels like Life is Strange has been around forever, but only just came out at the same time!
WR: I know the feeling. So, after the main game and the prequel Before the Storm, what did you make of the Farewell epilogue?
AH: Honestly, I’m still unsure. There were parts of it that I really enjoyed, but I didn’t click with the episode as much as I did with the others.
WR: The premise is pretty simple, really; we go back to a much younger Max and Chloe and play through a particularly fateful day; Max is telling her best friend that she is leaving Arcadia Bay for Seattle, which cruelly coincides with Chloe’s father passing away in an accident. There is a balance of them being two kids playing around and also dealing with deep issues, which is very much on style for Life is Strange. The main thing that hit me was how sorrowful the ending was – I thought they might end it on a higher note, but bittersweet is perhaps the nicest way to interpret it.
AH: I was ruined by the ending. I didn’t tell Chloe that Max was leaving until the end of the episode, so Chloe sort of found out her best friend is leaving (she already knew beforehand) and that her Dad has died in a car crash in the space of 30 seconds. I should’ve seen it coming, given that’s how Life is Strange does things, but at the same time I was so unprepared and felt like a massive d**k for doing that.
WR: I tried to tell Chloe in her bedroom, but Chloe distracts you and you can’t do it until the end anyway, so don’t worry too much. Poor Chloe, she deals with the Max thing so well, but then gets the news about her father… Knowing what else happens in her life after this makes it especially heartbreaking.
AH: She does? That’s a slight relief, at least, but doesn’t change how bad I feel. But yeah, Chloe really doesn’t have a great life at all, does she? Poor woman, always gets hit with more when she’s down.
WR: Do you think part of not clicking with it is that it’s been so long since we’ve seen those two together for a significant period, and then we’ve been dropped into this 1-2 hour episode?
AH: Possibly, but I also think there’s the fact that we knew where the whole path goes before we even start the episode, unlike with Before the Storm where, although we know how it turns out, we didn’t know anything substantial about Rachel beforehand.
WR: Also, whilst they’re the same characters, these aren’t the exact versions of the characters I love so much from the original game. I’d almost prefer this being a side story that we didn’t see during the timeline of the main game… I still enjoyed this a lot, but I felt it didn’t connect with me like other episodes have.
AH: I have to agree with you there, a side-story would’ve been a better choice than this prequel.
WR: What did you make of the actual gameplay? The whole treasure hunt quest.
AH: I guess it suits the younger characters better, having something as innocent as a treasure hunt be the main objective of the episode, but ehh… I’m not sure. It feels too light-hearted for the Life is Strange series.
WR: That’s sorta what I meant with them not being at the age we see them in the main game. I did really like some of the new things they did though, like the Choose Your Own Story that made me engage with a reading item in a way games don’t normally do. In addition, there were some profound moments, like Max saying we are scared of being hurt when we’re young, and scared of hurting others when we get older. Would have liked more of that.
AH: Oh man, that comment. I genuinely don’t think I’ve resonated more with a comment during the game than I have that exact one, especially since I’m pretty much living that reality myself right now…
WR: That ability to resonate with our actual lives is a big part of the magic of Life is Strange. Despite flaws, are you satisfied with the Max and Chloe story being concluded like this?
AH: Not really, to be honest. Whilst I enjoyed playing as Max & Chloe for a final time, I feel like it was unnecessary after seeing how events unfold in Season 1 and Before the Storm.
WR: Oh, so it’s more that it felt unnecessary rather than being bad?
AH: Reflecting on it now whilst we’re talking, I feel so, yeah. There wasn’t really much story that needed telling, as everything was covered in Season 1 and Before the Storm.
WR: Maybe it’s better to view this as just another little glimpse at their history, then, rather than the final, ahem, farewell. To me, the ending of the original Life is Strange is still their final narrative moment and the proper way to think of the story being finished.
AH: Definitely. Even though it is technically the ending of the series in the game’s chronology, it’s the only one to me that feels like an actual ending.
WR: Kinda apt to think of the series in different time orders, anyhow. You could argue playing them backwards (Farewell–Before the Storm–Life is Strange) makes the most sense.
AH: It does, but at the same time, I think given the story basis of Season 1 in finding out about Rachel and Jefferson killing everyone, the only way to play them is the order in which they were actually released.
WR: With the tease of Jefferson at the end of Before the Storm, I actually think it would work, but in a different way. Speaking of, what’s your opinion on the general package of Before the Storm now it’s all out?
AH: I genuinely feel like I enjoyed Before the Storm more than I did Season 1, I have to admit! I don’t think there was a single bad episode out of all 3 of them. My only criticism is that it was a little bit too fast-paced, and would’ve benefited from a fourth episode.
WR: I think it was only the third episode that really suffered from that. It did seem to lose some of the drama at the end, which I think is because they split Rachel and Chloe up in that episode and lost their relationship, which is the best part of Before the Storm.
AH: Yeah, Chloe and Rachel’s relationship is undoubtedly the best part of Before the Storm. I dunno about you, but it felt more natural than Max and Chloe’s, even with the weird way it started.
WR: I can see why you’d think that, but I think Max and Chloe are my favourite pairing. They have so much more history and layers to their relationship over the course of the first game. I’d say they’re the main two characters of the series, but I wouldn’t say that for Rachel. I think Before the Storm, including Farewell, is a really great package that adds a lot to the world of the game. This doesn’t feel like a case of an unnecessary prequel.
AH: It’s definitely a great sequel that does well to feel fresh whilst re-stepping old territory without feeling unnecessary, and is well worth playing if you haven’t already and were a fan of Season 1.
WR: Of course, we know this is only the end of the story of these characters, not the series. We recently got official word that news of a sequel to Life is Strange isn’t far away, and given that Before the Storm was announced last E3, I’d say another E3 reveal makes sense.
AH: Yeah, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to get news of Season 2 at E3. It just makes me wonder, with the Microsoft conference giving us Before the Storm last year, will it happen again with Season 2, or will the news come during the Sony conference this time?
WR: It was genuinely the only thing I was excited for at Microsoft last year. Between this and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Square Enix has my money this year.
AH: I think this is the only money I’m giving Square Enix this year, assuming Season 2 does begin before the turn of the year, of course.
WR: Do you have faith that a completely new setting and characters can work? It’s a tough ask when we have had such an attachment to the previous story. Telltale’s The Walking Dead had a big focus on new characters in Season 3, but ultimately I only really cared about Clementine from the previous seasons.
AH: I think that’s something DONTNOD need to tread very carefully with. As we’ve said before with The Last of Us being the story of Joel and Ellie, Life is Strange is the story of Max, Chloe, and Rachel to me. I’m willing to give Season 2 a shot, but I’m going into it a lot more cautiously than I did with Before the Storm.
WR: It’s so hard to do. Especially resisting the temptation to make references to the characters we know; in a way, the best way is just to do what they seem to be doing and almost completely disconnect from it.
AH: For sure. They’ve got to get as far away from the characters we know, whilst also keeping the Life is Strange feel. It’ll be interesting to see how they pull it off.
WR: DONTNOD having been working hard on it, you’d think. They’ve got that Vampyr game coming, but Deck Nine were the developers of Before the Storm. I get the feeling they’re taking the time to do this properly.
AH: Oh, without a doubt. Let’s be honest; Life is Strange made DONTNOD a mainstream developer, so I doubt they’d want to mess the series up now.
WR: Are you happy it’s actually getting a new season? We’ve had this conversation about The Last of Us (and likely will again in a couple of months); would you rather Life is Strange was left as is?
AH: Yeah, I’m happy it’s getting a new season, but like I said, I’m cautiously optimistic about it.
WR: Until then, I’m happy to be left with the story of Max and Chloe – for me, one of the very best in gaming. I’m sure we’ll be back to speculate about the next Life is Strange!
AH: Indeed we will. Now you can go play Super Mario Odyssey, dammit.
Look. One day, I’ll play Super Mario Odyssey. Then, we will have a long-overdue discussion about the game. Until then, you can go back through our previous Let’s Chat discussions here!
Images from the Life is Strange Official Website