In a previous post I wrote about Dontnod Entertainment’s sleeper hit, Life is Strange. Within the post I complimented the game for its visuals, soundtrack and characters. Safe to say I’m a fan of the game and therefore was extremely excited when a sequel was seemingly announced in February 2016.
Details on the pending sequel are pretty vague with the developer holding their cards firmly to their chest. However, some rumours over the Summer hinted that the sequel could be with us as early as January 2017. With this in mind I thought how could Dontnod Entertainment build on its already immersive concept and deliver an enriching experience with its upcoming sequel?
In my previous write up about the game I said that Max and Chloe’s friendship was one of the best parts about Life is Strange. Therefore it may seem contradictory to want to replace them. However, no matter the final decision you made at the end of Life is Strange, you can presume that Max’s character arc has come to an end. Whilst it would be interesting to see her a couple of years later fully grown into her abilities, I think there is an opportunity for the developers to introduce a new cast of characters.
The mythology behind Life is Strange remains largely a mystery. Why did Max acquire her powers? Could there be others like her? Exploring these questions would allow for the developers to build on the lore and introduce new elements to the game.
Personally I think it would be interesting to take the story away from the high school drama and introduce a slightly older cast. This would allow players to explore a range of different issues. The first game perfectly demonstrated the complexities of being a teenager and I believe it would be interesting to approach similar issues from the perspective of someone in their twenties.
Extended time manipulation abilities
One of the benefits of introducing new and possibly older characters is that they can establish an extended power set. Life is Strange saw Max develop her rewind abilities as the story required. She was able to use her powers to replay events, slow down time, teleport and even travel further back in time through the use of photographs.
I think the sequel should retain these abilities but could also build on them by allowing the character to use their powers in a range of situations. Rather than simply being able to just rewind time, the game could introduce elements that allow the character to predict the future or play out the consequences beforehand.
Keep exploring darker themes
Life is Strange wasn’t afraid to be dark. From exploring themes such as suicide, drug use, torture and murder, the game certainly didn’t shy away from shadier aspects of life. It was perhaps one of it’s strongest aspects to the game; the fact that it could showcase such subjects in an honest and mature way without seeming gratuitous.
For the sequel I hope the game continues exploring such themes and introduces the player to darker aspects. Perhaps the lead character themselves could be struggling with their own demons and as the player we will experience it first-hand and possibly influence how that impacts the character and their relationships with others throughout.
More weight to the choices you make
Life is Strange puts your character choices at the centre of the game but only to a certain degree. The game had a few larger choices that influenced the overall story but many fans were disheartened with lesser decisions that had little to no impact on how the story unfolded; particularly once you reached the climax of the final chapter.
However, with the sequel Dontnod Entertainment has a real opportunity to expand on their choice and consequence mechanic. Not only should the big decisions impact the game but they could introduce more nuanced player decisions that influence the overall story.
It would be a much more enhancing experience for the player if particular choices meant that there were certain sections or scenes that were completely altered based on previous choices made at an earlier stage.
Thank you for the music
Life is Strange’s soundtrack, included with the limited edition release, was a perfect accompaniment to the game’s clear art aesthetic. At no point did the music feel forced or out of place. Instead it added to the game’s more moving moments and created a subtle poignancy throughout.
Whilst some may criticise the soundtrack for being too ‘hipster’, Dontnod was able to use it in a way for the player to develop a connection with the characters and learn more about their personalities. Hopefully they will continue their use of music not only in the background but also bring it into the foreground to accompany key moments in the game like the stunning finale of the original game .