PSA: The following features spoilers for Life is Strange and Season One of Telltale’s The Walking Dead.
DONTNOD entertainment announced today that they’ve been working on a sequel to Life is Strange, in a YouTube video rich with beautiful French accents and unspoken sexual tension.
No other details have been confirmed, so only a giant, entitled manchild who overthinks every little thing about Life is Strange could possibly have any demands to make at this stage.
Leave Max and Chloe behind, you beautiful French bastards.
The strengths of the original season of Life is Strange centre around the relationship between Max and Chloe. Whilst ostensibly a sci-fi mystery, the game’s highest points came from the quieter moments between the two. It was feeling of spending time with Max and Chloe that kept fans coming back for each episode, far more than the underlying mystery of Rachel Amber.
Given the sometimes unsettling fondness fans have for “Pricefield”, leaving this chemistry behind may seem like a gamble – But it’s essential for a second season to succeed on its own merits.
#1 – The Multiple Endings.
Continuing Max and Chloe’s story has some logistical concerns. Of the two endings available in the first season’s final episode, Chloe is either dead, or Max and Chloe are murderous, bloodthirsty psychopaths.
The choice to spare Chloe by sacrificing Arcadia Bay (and everyone in it) was baffling at the time – As players watched the two romantically drive past the rotting corpses of their friends and family, presumably to have crazy hotel sex in the next town. Now, with the prospect of a sequel, DONTNOD have written themselves into a corner here. Do they choose a “canon” ending, and let the other fall into non-canonical oblivion? There’s certainly a story to be told with Max learning to come to terms with the death of Chloe, perhaps time travelling to visit her in the past as she struggles to let go – but what of the animals who chose to murder her parents? DONTNOD wrote an ending chosen entirely by amoral psychopaths, and now risk angering the horde by taking away the deaths of their victims. Look at that video. Look at those beautiful boys. Can you bear to put them in such danger?
#2 – Repeating the mistakes of the past.
Life is Strange could encounter the same problems Telltale’s The Walking Dead did in its second and third seasons. Due to its choice-based, episodic format, Life is Strange attracted immediate comparisons to Telltale’s work – and it risks making the same mistakes. Telltale’s first season the The Walking Dead was hugely popular for the same reason Life is Strange proved successful: The relationship between its two leads, Lee and Clementine.
The final episode’s emotional farewell proved to be the perfect finale – Much to the detriment of the following seasons. The death of the player-insert character Lee, leaving Clementine alone in an uncertain world perfectly fit thematically with the game at large. For five episodes, the player has been teaching Clementine the tools she needs to survive in the world, post-zombie apocalypse. At its finale, the player leaves Clementine just as Lee does: Hoping it was enough. Until season two, when we see that she’s totally fine, anyway. Despite being a solid experience with a great new cast, the game’s second season never proved as popular as the original, and the third season has attracted even less attention. For many players, saying goodbye to Clementine the first time was enough.
Life is Strange fans may feel the same. One way or another, we’ve said goodbye to Max and Chloe. Either we’ve seen Chloe accept her death, or we’ve imagined the pair making love over the corpses of their loved ones. Either way, revisiting them is going to feel awkward.
#3 – An opportunity to get me to shut the fuck up.
This is DONTNOD’s opportunity to prove that season one wasn’t lightning in a bottle. Life is Strange is by far their most successful title, after their previous game Remember Me released to mixed reviews. Upcoming title Vampyr seems promising, though a return to a combat-centred game is something of a step away from the peaceful life of Arcadia Bay. Despite this, I’ve explained before that I feel that perhaps many of the first season’s successes were a happy accident.
In introducing a new cast, DONTNOD have the opportunity to prove they have the narrative chops to compete with Telltale – with the added bonus of making me look like a tool. Which I’ve been told is very satisfying.
With a second season DONTNOD could become the American Horror Story of video games. By keeping an alternative, young adult aesthetic mixed with sci-fi themes – but recycling the cast each time*, Life is Strange could become a series that outlives the duo who birthed it.
(*Note, I will however accept a full episode that features nothing but kicking fuckboy Redditor Warren in the dick while he whimpers the word “Friendzone”. That is all).