Whatever future awaits the Life is Strange franchise from developer Deck Nine, episodic releases won’t be part of it. Speaking to Rock Paper Shotgun, senior narrative designer Phillip Lawrence admitted that he couldn’t imagine the team going back to that format after releasing 2021’s Life is Strange: True Colors.
The original Life is Strange (created by Dontnod), its prequel Before the Storm (Deck Nine’s first dance with the series) and sequel Life is Strange 2 were released episodically, often with a month or more in between releases. For games of its type, which includes several series from Telltale Games, the fractured release schedule can be a hurdle.
On the production side, Lawrence found making True Colors as a single game was easier on the writing team and allowed for them to hone in on making the story as best as it could be. “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,” he said. “This way is a lot more coherent and organic.”
The story of True Colors, about Alex Chen, who discovers she has empathetic powers, was built with a five-chapter format in mind. For Deck Nine, that format let the developers continue giving players “watercooler moments with the community,” a highlight of the franchise. Another benefit was that players wouldn’t be burned by the inconsistent release schedule of earlier games.
“It’s partly about player choice,” admitted Lawrence. “If players want to step back […] they can. But for those who would be frustrated by the episodic release pattern, we save them from those frustrations.”
Deck Nine is yet to announce a new Life is Strange, but the full release, five-chapter format of True Colors will guide the structure of the series from now on. That structure is “part of the DNA of Life is Strange,” according to Lawrence, and essential to the franchise. “We were careful to keep that, because it does appeal to players.”