At this year's E3 Square Enix announced a surprise addition to the Life is Strange franchise – a prequel called Life is Strange: Before the Storm, which is set three years before the first game and follows the character Chloe.
When it was released in 2015 Life is Strange became a somewhat unexpected hit, with its emotive story and characters garnering it many devoted fans.
It’s already been confirmed that the developer of the original game, Dontnod Entertainment, is currently working on a sequel, to be called Life is Strange 2, and as a result this new prequel is being made by a different studio entirely: Deck Nine Games.
Anyone worried about this relatively unknown studio taking on the backstory of beloved character Chloe can rest slightly easier, though, as we can confirm that the team at Dontnod has already had a chance to try out the first episode of the game for themselves and offer feedback.
TechRadar got the chance to sit down with Before the Storm’s lead writer, Zak Garriss, to discuss the game, and he told us that he'd already been to Paris to share an earlier build of the first episode with Dontnod.
“I literally got to sit around the table with [Dontnod developers] Raoul, Luke, Michel and Christian and play the game with them and hear them laugh, freeze up at certain moments and get their feedback,“ Garriss told us. “[Getting] their feedback on the game that we’ve made was amazing.”
Though Dontnod offered feedback at this later stage of the development, Garriss confirmed to us that “in terms of design of Before the Storm, from early conception to what’s polished in episode one now and future episodes has been entirely Deck Nine working alongside the team at Square Enix”.
When we asked Garriss if he felt any pressure coming into the franchise, particularly adding to the story of one of its most popular characters, he told us “it’s a tremendous pressure but also a tremendous privilege”.
“Dontnod has set a colossal bar,” he added. “I think everybody at Deck Nine understands this is a sacred game and franchise we’re getting into. I think ultimately we’re all fans first, and getting to make a game that’s a love letter to the franchise and a love letter to Arcadia Bay has been a dream come true for us.”
Players will be able to return to Arcadia Bay in Life is Strange: Before the Storm when the first episode is released on August 31 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
As far as Life is Strange 2, which is currently being developed by Dontnod, is concerned, details are still very thin on the ground.
However, the fact that in its announcement for Before the Storm, Square Enix stated that the decision to make the prequel was a “reaction to so many of you asking for the chance to revisit Arcadia Bay”, and the fact that a bonus episode would give players “one final chance to play as Max”, suggests to us that as rumors have suspected, the sequel will have an entirely new setting and cast of characters.
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