I’m a Life is Strange fan, so I was excited to read the comics, but there was always an inherent risk in a comic that chose to continue the story of Max and Chloe. Life is Strange is a choice-driven narrative. Each playthrough creates its own reality, and the game can end in two wildly divergent ways, depending on what the players pick.
For this series, the writers chose the “bae over bay” ending, which is also my Life is Strange reality, but it is not the reality for many players, and people can be really, really passionate about which ending is the right one to pick. Therein lies the danger of continuing either story — will readers accept that it is just exploring one possibility, or is it legitimising one game narrative over another?
I certainly started reading the comics with these possibilities in my head. And I’m just gonna go full spoiler mode for the game, so this is your warning.
The Life is Strange comics continue a year after the storm destroyed Arcadia Bay. Max chose to save Chloe’s life, dooming the town to destruction, and many of the people that Max and Chloe knew are now dead as a result. Max and Chloe are now living in Seattle with Max’s parents, when they receive an invite back to the Bay to attend a memorial service, one year on.
And then time begins to break. Chloe keeps vanishing from people’s memories. When our protagonists return to Arcadia Bay, they keep seeing and even talking to characters who died a year ago. Arcadia Bay itself keeps glitching, switching from the town it once was to the wreckage it is today.
My first assumption was this was the comics resetting the timeline. You saved Chloe and destroyed Arcadia Bay? Well, look how terrible things are as a result. You made the wrong choice, and it didn’t actually fix anything anyway. So what will the characters do now?
But this isn’t actually the comics are going for. Instead, the comics take the very idea of a multiverse as its fundamental concept. There is no true Life is Strange story. No one set of circumstances is the “true” canon. Sometimes Kate lived, and sometimes she died. Sometimes Max fell for Warren (although, why??), and sometimes she fell for Chloe. Sometimes everyone but Chloe lived, and sometimes everyone but Chloe died.
So the comics embrace this. There is no one true world, one true timeline, or one true Max, and this idea drives the story, pushing it towards the larger plot arc that will take it beyond the baggage of the game and the destruction of Arcadia Bay.
The art is lovely, the character voices feel right, and shippers will be very happy with the story. But, more importantly, I think all players will be happy with the storyline, no matter what choices they themselves made. And that’s a pretty huge accomplishment for the series.
The collection of this four-issue arc will be released on May 21st, but the single issues are available now. The series will continue with a new arc starting May 29th.