Life is Strange #1 takes place a full year after the events of the first game. The ending of Life is Strange is known for having two major diverging paths that have massive consequences for Max, depending on what the player had her choose. Does she sacrifice her hometown and everyone who lives there or does she save her best friend?
The way this comic deals with that ending is actually quite clever, while also telling its own story that keeps the reader intrigued. So, are you ready for the mosh pit shaka brah?
Life is Strange as a franchise has always been about three things: friendship, exploring superpowers in a realistic setting, and mystery. Life is Strange #1 follows through with all three things in spades, which makes it feel like a legitimate sequel to the first game. The focus is, of course, on our two leads’, Max and Chloe, friendship. Their lives are rife with difficulties, but at least they have each other. This time instead of the mystery being trying to solve the case of a missing person, it’s actually to solve what is going on with Max’s powers.
Max’s time-traveling abilities are now activated without her consent. She is bouncing between timelines in which different events happened and choices were made. Emma Vieceli actually writes the dialogue in a way that makes the reader start putting the dots together before Max and Chloe do. It’s jarring, making the reader reread the dialogue again, putting us in the confused shoes of Max. Brilliantly done.
The way the mystery builds left me intrigued to pick-up the next issue. I was afraid that the comic series was mainly going to focus on Max and Chloe running away from the consequences of sacrificing Arcadia Bay. It’s quite satisfying to see that no matter what they do, they have to live with what is an inherently selfish choice. No matter how understandable their motivations at the end of the game were.
The Art Is Hella Good But…
Claudia Leonardi’s art style is a mixed bag. It certainly fits the tone of the series. It’s realistic to a point and then is also stylized to match the idea that our two protagonists are teenagers. They see the world as dark and depressing, yes, but they also have a sense of childlike naivete of not fully understanding how the world really works.
However, the way she does faces from certain angles is quite jarring. It seems too angular and, as a result, leaves me confused by the expression of the character’s faces. This is less noticeable on the characters that originate in Life is Strange #1.
Perhaps this has to do with the uncanny valley that always comes from drawing a character that has a pre-established look in a different medium. Claudia’s sense of angles and camera position during intense conversations is perfect. So, in the end, her art is good, it’s just not my personal cup of tea.
Hella Great Way To Address Player Choice
Life is Strange #1 opens with a recap of the end of the first game. As stated previously, this comic follows through on the “Save Chloe” ending. However, due to the time travel nature of the story and the pre-established notion of a multiverse in the games, it says this is what possibly could have happened. Leaving it open for Titan Comics to publish a comic taking place after the “Save Arcadia Bay” ending. And through the conceit of the story being told in Life is Strange #1, we have multiple endings of the first game playing out in this story. Nothing is made canon, unlike other choice based franchises that have been adapted to a non-interactive medium.
By virtue of coming out after the prequel, Life is Strange: Before the Storm, it even ties in some of the stuff we know happened to Chloe into the story. The lamppost scene that is mirrored in this comic from Before the Storm never addresses what Chloe shared with Rachel. Just that it was a special moment between them. This allows for players to input their choices into Life is Strange #1’s narrative. This is a very smart way to handle this.
Life is Strange #1 Is Hella Worthy Of Its Namesake
Life is Strange #1 combines the core three elements from the Life is Strange franchise to make its own unique story. It feels like a legitimate sequel instead of as a gap filler between the next game, like many game tie-in comics feel. And since Dontnod has decided to do the anthology concept with the Life is Strange games, this is likely the only continuation we will get of Max and Chloe’s story. Which I’m hella fine with.