Video games are becoming the main source of entertainment. They are forcing movie productions to meet the need of the viewer to be inside a story, not only watching it. Just think about Netflix experiments with interactive movies such as Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.
Graphic adventure games are the perfect synthesis of enjoying a linear story while still retaining the agency of the player. Heavy Rain, Until Dawn, and Detroit: Become Human are just a few examples of interactive adventure games. On rare occasions, developers create such a unique experience that their game becomes a world player can’t wait to get back to. That’s what happened with the indie gem Life Is Strange.
The Life Is Strange Universe
Created by Dontnod Entertainment and published in 2015 by Square Enix (Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider), Life Is Strange is the episodic story of a college girl, Max Caulfield, who has the ability to rewind time. However, this power does not come without responsibility. As Max has to deal with the increasingly dangerous consequences of the butterfly effect. This mechanic is used throughout the game in the form of quests and puzzles; which make up the bulk of the gameplay.
A prequel to the story was released in 2017, Life Is Strange: Before The Storm. Followed by Life Is Strange 2 and its spin-off The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit between 2018 and 2019. The genre is not the only reason why the game became so popular. Every story from the first game on is linked to the other not by the characters, but by one main topic: loss.
The game is like a digital, more girl power version of The Catcher in the Rye. Max is almost a contemporary Holden Caulfield; who is trying to grow up and find the courage to leave everyone and everything they love behind.
The power of loss
Max lost her innocence when she got back to Arcadia Bay, where everything she knew is now different, and she now has the not-so-metaphorical power to save her town or lose it forever. Chloe (Before The Storm) lost herself while figuring out her new life without any form of love, and trying to maintain a newfound love. Sean and Daniel (Life Is Strange 2) lost both their parents and must attempt to build a future for themselves alone. Chris (The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit) lost his mother and has to build up enough strength to not lose his father too.
There is no right way to deal with loss, and sometimes not even magical powers are enough. Most of the time, they prove to be completely useless. None of the characters succeed in their story because of their magical abilities. They thrive as they get to deeply understand their feelings and learn how to use them to help others.
And the story goes on…
The Life Is Strange series is adding a new immersive story to the well-known universe of unique characters. In September 2021 players will finally meet Alex Chen in Life Is Strange: True Colors. Alex will have to investigate her brother’s death and the mystery behind it. Her power: she can experience the emotions of others.
Players are waiting, with September being just around the corner, ready to feel just as much as Alex. Because as the entire Life Is Strange saga shows, feelings are stronger than magical powers.