Life Is Strange #1 – Comic Review

Does this video game tie-in add new depth to an established universe?

This article contains major spoilers for Life is Strange season 1. Those even remotely interested in playing the opening season, please do so before continuing reading this.

You have been warned.

In 2015, Dontnod Games’ Life is Strange breathed fresh life into the episodic game space. Delivering a heart-straining, gut-wrenching story that gave players a years worth of stand-out “water cooler” moments and stuck with those that experienced it long after the final decision had been made.

Three years after gamers were forced to decide the fate of Arcadia Bay, fans are still screaming for more. Now, Titan Books revisits the Life is Strange universe to continue the story.

It has been a year since Max Caulfield and Chloe Price let the storm that threatened to destroy Arcadia Bay have its way with the Pacific North-West town. While Dontnod have carefully never confirmed a canon ending to the first season, this would suggest the destruction of the town is it. Max and Chloe have made a new life for themselves up the road in Seattle. They’ve made friends with, and work for, a local punk band and life seems to be doing good. But things take a turn for the strange on the anniversary of the storm destroying the pair’s hometown.

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Having promised to her best friend not use her time shifting powers; Max find herself fighting for her sanity when she appears to be involuntarily shifting between a timeline with her and Chloe together, and one where Chloe has sacrificed herself to save the coastal town. Seemingly unable to control the phasing between these parallel lives, Max and (sometimes) Chloe must figure out what is going on.

This first entry in this four part comic book series does exactly what it sets out to do. It re-introduces fans to their two favourite teenagers and gives them a glimpse of the life they have now the events of the Square Enix published game have blown over. No matter the ending you chose for the game when you played it, it is great to see these two back together and obviously more than the just really, really good friends they were before. All those hints at something more seem to be coming to a head in this direct follow-on to the game, even if they are (thankfully) in a very U rated capacity.

But to the frustration of fans, this first issue doesn’t tell enough. It’s 21 pages of illustrations give you just enough to scratch that Life is Strange itch before it closes its pages and forces you to wait for the next. We see glimpses of the happiness our heroes deserve after seeing their home destroyed and their friends killed; only for it to be taken away at the snap of a writer’s fingers and the soul crushing moment you realise Max is here because she let Chloe die. But Max doesn’t know that as she searches aimlessly for her friend. As short as this book is, it’s effective in bringing back all that heartache we suffered the last time we had control of Max.

A series almost exclusively for fans, if you haven’t played Life is Strange, you will get next to nothing from this comic. Then again, if you haven’t played Life is Strange, you should probably rectify that quickly, then come and visit the survivors of Arcadia Bay within these pages. But be prepared for that pit of the stomach feeling the game left you with to return.

Life is Strange #1 is now available from Titan Comics.

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