Year: 2015 (started)
Publisher: Square Enix, Feral Interactive, Black Wing Foundation
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment, Deck Nine, Feral Interactive
Genre: Graphic adventure
The Life is Strange series began in 2015 when the first game of the series, Life is Strange, was released in five episodes periodically throughout that year. The games generally focus on characters with supernatural powers in a graphic adventure format. The first game focuses on Max Caulfield, an 18-year-old photography student who discovers that she has the ability to rewind time at any moment, leading her every choice to enact the butterfly effect.
After Life is Strange, a prequel was released called Life is Strange: Before the Storm, which was released in three episodes periodically throughout 2017. It focuses on sixteen-year-old Chloe Price and her relationship with schoolmate Rachel Amber. While no supernatural powers are explicitly included in this one, Chloe has the ability, “Backtalk,” which players can use to call upon Chloe to get out of certain precarious situations.
After Life is Strange: Before the Storm, a free graphic adventure game called The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit was released in 2018 as an introduction to the third game of the series, Life is Strange 2. Life is Strange 2 is the second main entry of the series, with five episodes being periodically released from September 2018 to December 2019. It broke from the previous characters in past iterations (with some being mentioned or appearing still) to focus on Sean and Daniel Diaz, two Mexican-Americans whose father is shot by a police officer months before the 2016 U.S. presidential election. This awakens a power in telekinesis for Daniel Diaz which causes an explosion that damages their house and kills the officer. The two then become fugitives and go on the run to try to reach their father’s Mexican hometown of Puerto Lobos.
The first game has been praised for tackling taboo subjects and has various LGBTQ themes and characters. It and its prequel have been critiqued for propagating the “bury your gays” trope while also keeping its queer relationships ambiguous. Others, such as Reddit users in this thread, praise this ambiguity. Life is Strange 2 has received similar praise and critiques, also being noted for wading into “more political, timely topics”.
LGBTQ References in this game series:
Life is Strange (2015): Chloe Price, Max Caulfield, Rachel Amber
Life is Strange 2 (2018-2019): Arthur and Stanley Petersen, Finn McNamara, Jacob Hackerman, Sean Diaz
- Chan, K. H. (2017, August 4). Why I’m afraid video games will continue to ‘bury its gays’. Retrieved from https://www.polygon.com/2017/8/4/16090980/life-is-strange-death-lgbtq-characters
- Farokhmanesh, M., & Webster, A. (2018, September 28). Life is Strange 2 puts politics at its forefront. Retrieved from https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/28/17909504/life-is-strange-2-roads-review-ps4-xbox-pc
- Tartufo, Z. (2015, December 17). File:Life Is Strange.png. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Life_Is_Strange.png
- the_sex_kitten77. (2016, June 27). r/lifeisstrange – LGBT Themes in Life is Strange. Retrieved from https://www.reddit.com/r/lifeisstrange/comments/4q1v0x/lgbt_themes_in_life_is_strange/
- Wallace, K. (2015, January 29). Life Is Strange: Episode 1 – Chrysalis Review. Retrieved from https://www.gameinformer.com/games/life_is_strange/b/pc/archive/2015/01/29/life-is-strange-episode-one-chrysalis-review-game-informer.aspx
- Worby, M. (2019, August 27). ‘Life is Strange 2’ Episode 3 Review – “Wastelands” is a Serious Game Changer. Retrieved from https://goombastomp.com/life-is-strange-2-episode-3-review/
- Wright, S. (2019, May 12). Life is Strange 2 has a disappointing same-sex relationship. Retrieved from https://stevivor.com/features/opinion/life-strange-2-disappointing-sex-relationship/