Life is Strange: True Colors was no one-off: while Life is Strange, Life is Strange: Before the Storm, and Life is Strange 2 were all released episodically, the latest instalment in the series wasn’t. The new approach may continue in the future.
It used to be accepted that Square Enix would release the games in the franchise episodically, with Don’t Nod (then Dontnod; they worked on the first and second instalments) and Deck Nine (they made Before the Storm) working on the games. However, this format was replaced, and Life is Strange: True Colors was launched last year in complete form, except for the extra prequel DLC. Deck Nine doesn’t see much of a change to return to episodes.
Philip Lawrence, Deck Nine’s senior narrative designer, spoke to Rock Paper Shotgun about the issue (e.g. whether the release in instalments had an impact on development, whether the creative element was involved in ‘slicing’ the game, not to mention the sometimes frustratingly unpredictable release schedule). Lawrence says they didn’t need to rush development and could have taken a slower, more cohesive, organic approach to the project, which was more positively received.
Lawrence said, “I think from a creative point of view, it allowed us to concentrate on developing the story, getting the scripts into a great position, and then producing a game. 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. I think approaching it this way is a lot more coherent and organic. I can’t imagine we’d go back to the episodic model. 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. As you can imagine, it was a decision that was talked about and agonized over quite a bit, but I think on reflection, it was the right decision.”
And he’s not saying anything stupid. Instead, let’s wait a little longer to get the story in one piece because it is not a TV series…