In a recent interview, Life is Strange developers shared they couldn’t imagine going back to an episodic model.
In the interview with Rock Paper Shotgun, Senior Narrative designer on Life is Strange: True Colors, Philip Lawrence, shared the team wanted to go in a different direction. Rather than release the game in chapters, they wanted to try releasing it as a whole bundle.
“I can’t imagine we’d go back to the episodic model,” says Lawrence. “The reaction has been very positive. I think we were careful to keep that episodic structure, because that does seem to appeal to players. That’s all part of the DNA of Life is Strange.”
Life Is Strange: True Colors released in 2021 and features Alex Chen as the game’s protagonist. Like all the main characters of the franchise, she discovers she has a new, unique psychic ability — the power of empathy. Using this power, she sets out to solve the mystery of her brother’s death.
Despite the studio’s departure from episodic releases, the game still consists of five chapters. Each one is unique and still helps maintain the almost TV-like quality of the narrative. This seemed like a win-win as it allowed fans to decompress after each episode if they wanted to. It also allowed fans to play the game top to bottom uninterrupted if that was what they wanted to do.
“We were careful to structure a story around the five chapters, so that structurally it feels very in line with earlier Life Is Strange titles,” Lawrence says, “So if players want to step back, reflect and have those watercooler moments with the community, they can. But for those who would be frustrated by the episodic release pattern, we save them from those frustrations.”
The departure from staggered chapter releases also helped the development team get things right. Lawrence mentions the difficulty of designing narrative one chapter at a time:
“…it allowed us to concentrate on developing the story, getting the scripts into a great position, and then producing a game. So we didn’t have that awkwardness of the episodic model where you’re rushing to production on the scripted content for the first episode, and then moving on to the next one. Approaching it this way is a lot more coherent and organic, I think.”
Currently, it is unknown whether there is another Life Is Strange game is in development, but if there is it is not likely to return with the series’ traditional episodic format.
SOURCE: Rock Paper Shotgun
Honestly, I preferred the episodic model because it allowed fans to create conspiracies online after each episode, and gave us time to allow it all to sink in and be excited about it for longer than a couple of days, by which time a lot of players would’ve probably completed it. The only problem I saw with it was the inconsistency of release patterns, and 2+ months per episode sometimes felt like quite the wait.
Totally agree! I personally enjoyed finishing an episode and immediately texting my friends who were playing to discuss what we thought would happen next. But I do agree as well that the inconsistent release pattern sometimes was unbearable. This time around I liked having the choice to play as much or as little as I wanted, and I definitely plowed more than one episode at a time!
Totally, there are definitely ups and downs to it. What was really annoying though, was trying to avoid spoilers on Twitter when it KNOWS I’m an active LiS fan, so it shoves everything in my face to do with the new game. I had to mute so many words to avoid any spoilers until I finished it, which felt like pressure to finish the game so I could be in the know and talk about it.