After a jaw-dropping teaser, Dontnod unveiled Life is Strange 2’s first full trailer during gamescom 2018. The sequel stars new characters, brothers Sean and Daniel Diaz, and features a brand-new story. Max Caulfield and Chloe Price, the leads of Life is Strange’s original series and prequels, aren’t present in the forthcoming release. Since Max and Chloe are so ingrained in the franchise’s DNA, even Dontnod struggles to move on. However, the developers feel confident in their decision. Life is Strange’s universe has stories worth telling beyond Arcadia Bay.
In an interview with IGN, developers from the studio were asked what defined the series if not Max and Chloe. Co-Director Raoul Barbet responded with the following:
It’s a question we asked ourselves at the beginning. Is it Max and Chloe, Arcadia Bay? No it’s about everyday characters, relatable characters with stories you can involve yourself in, because it reflects your own experiences. With some supernatural stuff on the top.
Lead Writer Jean-Luc Cano added that social themes rest at the heart of the franchise. Tackling themes that don’t often receive attention in video games are significant to Dontnod’s vision of Life is Strange. Cano said,
For us it’s really important to talk about social themes that we think are sometimes not maybe shown enough in video games and it was also important for us to start a new story with brand new characters, so we could also tackle different things
In explaining why it’s time to leave Max and Chloe behind, Co-Director Michael Koch said the team has nothing more to add to their story.
Everyone loved Max, Chloe, Rachel from Before the Storm. But [their story]… it’s done. We three have nothing more to tell. We don’t want to. Other people will do it, and it’s okay. There is a lot of fan fiction and that’s perfect. When the audience appropriates those characters, it’s the most wonderful thing when you create something, it’s perfect. But for us, we have nothing more to do. Take [them] and do whatever you want.
Cano admitted the transition away from the beloved characters has been difficult, especially since Dontnod doesn’t want to disappoint fans.
It was really difficult, because yeah, we had the pressure not to disappoint fans. Not to make something, we didn’t want to disappoint fans but we also want to… I think about a lot of stuff. You know Joss Whedon? He had this really good quote. ‘Give the audience what they need, not what they want.’
This notion recalls Cano’s note about Dontnod’s desire to explore poignant social themes. In Life is Strange 2, the exploration takes shape in the form of two young boys living on the “outskirts of society.” After a tragic encounter with a police officer, Sean and Daniel Diaz leave home.
Koch talked more on Life is Strange 2’s story of runaways:
When you’re an everyday kid, you have to deal with everyday problems. And don’t steal, Don’t lie, those are the basic rules. But when you are a runaway, when you have the police is chasing you, you have to say, ‘okay, these rules, I can break them, because for the own good of my little brother.’
It won’t be easy to proceed through the series without Chloe or Max. Their bond is special, regardless of whether players choose to maintain the duo’s friendship or explore romantic options. Such a dynamic relationship remains a rarity in gaming. Therefore, we’ll have to cherish it, while embarking on new adventures in the exciting world of Life is Strange.
Dontnod on Life is Strange 2 Chloe and Max, 'Nothing More to Tell'
Life is Strange 2’s first episode goes live on September 27, 2018.