9 Years Later, 'Life is Strange' Finally Gives Fans What They Want — But Is It Too Late?

9 Years Later, 'Life is Strange' Finally Gives Fans What They Want — But Is It Too Late?

Life is Strange is getting another entry, this time helmed by the series’ first protagonist, Max Caulfield. Fans of the episodic adventure franchise are already excited about this change of pace, especially after two underwhelming follow-ups to the 2015 original. Here’s what we know so far about Life is Strange: Double Exposure.

Nine years ago, Max’s time-bending powers and the game’s well-crafted emotional narrative captivated players. When it first released, Life is Strange felt like it was on the cutting-edge of what video games could be, pushing the envelope on the medium. Much of gaming has changed in the meantime, but based on a new game trailer that dropped on Sunday, it looks like Double Exposure is keeping a couple of things that made Life is Strange resonate.

Max is back, but the series appears to ditch her best friend, Chloe. Instead, Max has a new best friend, Safi, who has been murdered in one timeline, while she remains alive in another. Using her new, strange powers of traveling to parallel timelines, Max must solve the mystery to save Safi’s life. Max is still a photographer, and the title Double Exposure, implies these two worlds will collide for a spectacular finale. Max loses her time rewinding powers from the first game, as those get replaced by her new ability to travel to a parallel timeline.

The previous game, Life is Strange: True Colors, explored the fictional sleepy town of Haven Springs, Colorado and introduced the franchise’s first Asian American main character, Alex Chen. Based on Metacritic scores, gamers liked True Colors slightly more than Life is Strange 2, but both paled in comparison to the original Life is Strange.

When I reviewed True Colors three years ago, I praised the game’s fun role-playing elements, even while I criticized its overly saccharine and perhaps unrealistic portrayal of a queer Asian American woman being welcomed into a Midwestern small town, largely devoid of racism or homophobia. I also found Alex’s superpowers to be little more than heightened empathy, which are a lot less fun in a role-playing game, where being able to empathize with the NPCs is usually par for the course. While we don’t have the official sales numbers, anecdotally, it feels like True Colors did not make as big of a splash as it could have. So it makes a lot of sense why the series would revisit the elements that fans initially fell in love with — Max Caulfield, her time powers, and the twists and turns of friendship.

Max and Safi in Double Exposure.

Square Enix

Still, despite all appearances, there’s evidence to suggest the new game might not be able to recreate the magic of the first one. The new game was made by Colorado-based Deck Nine Games, rather than French studio DontNod, which was responsible for the first two. In February, Deck Nine laid off 20 percent of its staff, attributing the decision to “the games industry’s worsening market conditions,” and saying the affected employees had made a “huge impact during their time at Deck Nine Games.”

We’ll know more very soon, as Deck Nine is planning a livestream on June 13 at 12PM Eastern to reveal details. It’s also teasing new outfits for Max, including some weirdly based on Final Fantasy VII.

Life is Strange: Double Exposure is coming to Xbox, PlayStation, and PC on October 29, with plans to come to the Nintendo Switch, too.

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