Life is Strange hit me like a speeding freight train. When I played episode 1 of the original game, I didn’t know what to expect, I hadn’t heard anything about the game and went in with no preconceived notions. Five episodes later it was one of the most compelling stories I had ever played. The characters, the narrative and the excellent soundtrack all gelled together to create something very special for me. It was about time travel, exciting powers and crazy adventures. But it was about more than that; it was about destiny, friendship, growing up and love. It wasn’t perfect, the puzzles could be frustrating (the less we say about glass bottles the better) and the camera at times a little off, but for me it didn’t matter. I was in love. The recently released bonus episode was the final episode to be released as part of Before the Storm but acts as a separate entity. The last piece of the story.
This Farewell episode is exactly that; an epilogue to the entire Life is Strange saga. A goodbye to the characters and what feels like a goodbye to the audience from the developers and cast. We pick up at the earliest time we’ve seen so far in the timelines of Chloe and Max, who is returning, or better yet hasn’t left for Seattle yet.
Whilst Life is Strange leaned heavily on its time travel mechanics and Native American folklore, Before the Storm stripped it back and focused instead on what made Life is Strange great – the characters, the situations they find themselves in and the drama that unfolds. Farewell doubles down on this approach. It’s a sensibility is absolutely for only those who have stuck with these characters through the previous episodes and if you go in invested, you will be rewarded in kind.
Original Voice actors Hannah Telle and Ashley Burch reprise their roles as Max and Chloe. The first time Burch has returned since the original game as she was on strike during the voice recording of Before the Storm so could not participate. The girls carry the weight of the entire experience and by now it’s clear they know these characters inside and out, particularly Burch, who manages to create a younger, naiver, less cynical Chloe Price which reinforces a very clear ark for her character and compliments the work of both herself and Rhianna DeVries who also excellently stood in for Burch during the strike. We are left with three distinct Chloe Price’s.
The basic premise is Max is spending the day with Chloe, helping her to clean her room, but she has a secret that we as an audience are already privy to; she is moving to Seattle. What transpires is an hour of intimate, human moments between two individuals finding an old-time capsule they had buried when they were eight years old and the most terrifying pirates on the seven seas.
There are moments sprinkled throughout that play on our sense of knowing the future for these characters which, without spoilers the moment where they dig up the capsule is very reminiscent of a scene much later and it is in these moments where the cinematic storytelling is at its best.
Instead of Max, it is the player who is cast in the role of time traveller. A witness to past events and knowing the destiny carved out for the characters without the ability to make decisions that can change it. As is the case with many decision based games, where choices can feel binary and endings can feel like three colour choices, Farewell’s biggest choices revolve around when to tell Chloe you are leaving and it’s not multiple scenarios or limitless choices that resonate, it’s the character turmoil of deciding when is best to tell your best friend you won’t be around anymore and again, if you buy into the world and the characters, no choices ever feel binary.
The farewell episode is ultimately about a moment in life that forever changes the characters and as Ben Howards Black Flies begins to play in the closing moments I dare you to not feel emotional. If this is truly Deck Nine and DONTNOD’s last trip to Arcadia Bay, then it gifts the players of the series with a beautiful and haunting farewell that is ‘hella good’.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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