Life is Strange: True Colors was the first game in the series to be released as a full package – skipping the episodic version on which the franchise was built. Now, developers can’t imagine going back.
In an interview with Paper gunsenior narrative designer Philip Lawrence explains why the team wanted to try something new with Life is strange sequel, still separated into separate chapters, but released as a single package.
“I can’t imagine we’re going back to the episodic model,” Lawrence said. “The response has been very positive. I think we were careful to keep that multi-episode structure, because that seemed to draw players in. It’s all part of Life is Strange’s DNA. As you can imagine, it was a much talked about and agonizing decision, but I think in retrospect it was the right one. “
Life is Strange: True Colors, released in 2021, tells the story of Alex Chen – a girl who develops superhuman empathy. This is the first full-fledged Life Is Strange game from developer Deck Nine, who took over development from the creators of the Dontnod series (after creating the Life Is Strange: Before the Storm spinoff).
While the game has dropped the episodic releases, it retains the essence of TV storytelling, revealing the plot in a structured way:
“It’s part of the player’s choice,” says Lawrence. “We took care to structure a story around five chapters, so that its structure feels very consistent with previous Life Is Strange titles.”
Structured more like a limited series than a video game, Life is Strange: True Colors gives players the chance to either indulge in the full game or capture it at their own pace. “So if players want to step back, reflect and have those great moments with the community, they can,” added Lawrence. “But for those who will be disappointed with the episodic release model, we save them from those frustrations.”
Think of it this way – Life is Strange: True Colors is more of a box set than a weekly episode. Doing it this way is clearly a liberating experience, with the structure of the story becoming secondary to the story itself. And that means Deck Nine developers can focus on getting the plot right.
Monitor – Life is Strange: True Colors
“I think from a creative standpoint, it allows us to focus on developing the story, putting the script in a great position, and then producing a game,” he explains. “So we don’t have the awkwardness of the episodic model when you’re rushing to produce scripted content for the first episode and then move on to the next. I think approaching it this way would be a lot more coherent and organic.”
Whether we find another Life is Strange game on its way remains to be seen. But even if it did, it doesn’t seem likely to revert back to the old episode format.
Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.