One year ago, Life is Strange 2’s first episode launched. Here we are a year later, and the fifth and final episode is still months away from being released. This is in stark contrast to the release schedule for Life is Strange’s episodes, as all five episodes were out within a roughly 10-month timeframe. Apart from the setting and characters, what’s changed exactly? According to Co-Creative Director Michael Koch, there are two key reasons behind the three to fourth month waiting period between Life is Strange 2 releases: each episode is longer and carries more weight, narratively.
Life is Strange 2’s episodes are pretty long, especially when compared to the series’ first outing. Interestingly, the added hours of content per episode make sense once the sequel’s “road movie structure” is taken into consideration. Koch explained as much in an interview with DualShockers, where he addressed the long wait between each episode.
The game is much bigger, it’s a bigger game with longer episodes. I think in the first season episodes were two hours long, here is more like three to four. It is also a much more ambitious game in the fact that we are using this road movie structure where each episode you are meeting new characters in new environments in new seasons so it’s a much bigger task to create the game which also ends up needing a longer development time for each episode. And yeah you’re right, I think the window between each episode has been three to four months instead of two to three in the first game so it’s longer which can be a bit frustrating for the players, but we also have this structure where each episode is really a small story during the road trip.
Koch then went on to note that extensive breaks between episodes also reflects the span of time in-game. For instance, Sean and Daniel experience months of new ups and downs after Episode 1. In turn, Episode 2 picks up in a different season of the year, with the brothers residing in an area not previously seen by players.
The Co-Creative Director told DualShockers the following,
In the first Life is Strange each episode was taking place in one day of the same week. In the second Life is Strange each episode is a few days during a whole year for the game and there is an ellipse of several weeks, sometimes months, between the story of each episode so I think the ellipse between the episode makes sense with the wait time in-game and makes sense with the time out-game for the players.
Personally, I would love to be able to reduce this time and see next game if we can maybe be more advanced in the creation of the content and start releasing the episode later. When we finish one episode, we still have a lot of work for the next episode. It allows us to see the community reaction and the reviews and maybe use some of that directly in the creation of the next episode, but it also creates a longer time capsule. If we later try to reduce the gap between episodes we might not be able to react that much to what the community is saying. It’s a tough question and we need to find a way to improve.
With all of the above in mind, it should be interesting to see how Dontnod Entertainment’s episodic model will evolve in the future. Fans won’t have to wait for a potential Life is Strange 3 to find out, either. The studio is currently working on a similar project, Twin Mirror. Following a delay, the psychological thriller will launch sometime in 2020.
Life is Strange 2’s final episode is slated to go live later this year on December 3rd.