This article contains spoilers.
Life is Strange is one of my favorite game series in recent years. The time-travel, teenage drama was an emotional, at times sappy, sometimes inconsistent – but overall incredibly addicting take on the butterfly effect, the power (and repercussions) of friendship, and growing up.
The series features two main characters, Max Caulfield and her best friend Chloe Price, and gameplay centers around the decisions you make throughout the game and the ways they can change the overall storyline. Many decisions focus on Chloe as Max, who’s moved back to Arcadia Bay from Seattle and rekindled their former best-friendship, finds out she can rewind time to a certain extent.
Enter Life is Strange: Before the Storm, the prequel series to Life is Strange that emphasizes the relationship between Chloe and Rachel Amber, a missing girl in the original series and Chloe’s best friend in Arcadia Bay during the time Max was away.
This series featured three episodes and one bonus one, Farewell, which shifts the focus back to Chloe and Max’s past before any of the drama in either Life is Strange or Before the Storm happened.
It’s much shorter than the other episodes in Before the Storm and as such only features the events of a day or so.
With Farewell, the creators of Life is Strange went full-on nostalgia mode. We already knew about practically everything that happens in the episode, with maybe a few surprises about the timing of the events. It was simply a treat for Life is Strange fans to experience playing the Max-Chloe relationship another time.
Yet even though I liked Farewell and appreciated the return of the original voice actresses (Before the Storm was produced during a voice actors’ strike), I couldn’t help but think it was unnecessary.
Even if Farewell was meant to be a small bonus episode, the developers could have used this opportunity to shed light on some of the lingering questions introduced by Life is Strange – and certainly its prequel, which left players with even more.
Here are some questions the developers could have at least partially explored with a bonus episode instead of the events in Farewell.
What about Rachel Amber?
Life is Strange: Before the Storm didn’t quite live up to its expectations. Though Rachel Amber seems like the awesome person Chloe had made her out to be in the original game, you already knew Rachel Amber was going to go missing and how she went missing. That simple fact greatly diminished the suspense that was so prevalent in the first game.
Yet, unexpectedly, Before the Storm didn’t really address Rachel’s kidnapping save for a small scene at the end. Instead, we were introduced to a lot of facts about other characters, like her dad, who is a district attorney and knows about – and even deals in – the shady dealings in the town.
Even with all his power and knowledge, however, he wasn’t mentioned at all (to my knowledge) in the original. So what happened to the Amber family after Rachel went missing? Is this just a plot hole? And what happened after the events of Before the Storm but right before Rachel went missing?
Who is Mr. Jefferson?
In episode 2 of Before the Storm, we hear a reference to the main antagonist of Life is Strange, Mr. Jefferson, a famous photographer who is obsessed with “capturing that moment innocence turns into corruption” and is mainly responsible for the missing girls in Arcadia Bay. He’s mentioned on the radio as possibly teaching at Blackwell Academy, Chloe and later Max’s school.
In a twisted alternative to Farewell, perhaps the developers could have provided a glimpse on Jefferson’s character and even his other artwork. Did he kidnap girls before, or was his obsession something that came about recently? If so, what could have caused it?
Does his other artwork also capture innocence turning into corruption since he’s so famous? I don’t think he could have gotten away with the ones he took in the original series.
Why do Max and presumably Rachel acquire their powers?
The biggest question for me in this series is how Max acquired her power to rewind time. It’s not really explained in the first game except for some speculations about how it was necessary to save Chloe, or ultimately let her die. There are also some indications that a mysterious spirit deer, who may or may not be Rachel Amber, was also involved.
On that note, Rachel’s power was hinted at during Before the Storm, where winds circled around her and possibly caused a forest fire to spread madly as she cried out. I’m personally wondering if something about Arcadia Bay, Rachel Amber or some other individual, or if there’s another force entirely.
Here’s hoping some of these questions will be answered in Life is Strange 2, when it comes out. I did hear it will feature a new location and cast of characters, though, so I’m not too confident in that proposal.
Image credits: DontNod Entertainment, Deck Nine, Square Enix, Feral Interactive, Black Wing Foundation