When I embarked on the journey of Life Is Strange upon its initial release in 2015, I was completely blown away by its unique portrayal of characters and supernatural elements. So, now that I’ve had the chance to check out the Arcadia Bay Collection on Nintendo Switch, my perspective on the game has changed since learning the narrative as a whole with the stories of Max Caulfield and Chloe Price. Each character is different in their own way, yet playing these installments side by side shows a lot of similarities that I was previously unaware of.
In Life Is Strange, you will take control of Max, a lonely photographer who recently returned to Arcadia Bay (a small town in Oregon.) During this time, you can explore Blackwell Academy and talk to fellow students on campus. it can change your future based on the choices you make along the way.
However, the most exciting aspect of the game is Max’s time travel powers which I consistently used to get out of intense situations or if I accidentally killed a character (happens more often than you might think). This Life Is Strange mechanic makes things a little easier for the player and allows you to experience other stories at the same time by simply going back in time. But of course, there are limits to how far you can go back in the timeline and it will negatively affect the character in each chapter.
The story officially begins when you witness the death of your former best friend, Chloe Price, activating your time travel powers that reverse the outcome of this incident. From there, the two characters rekindle their friendship and embark on a quest to find Price’s missing friend, Rachel Amber. That being said, I enjoyed the mystery of the series as this aspect is where the game thrives and each character has a new secret to uncover.
As Max and Chloe embark on their adventure, some moments involve scavenging around the area which can be frustrating. For example, when you go to a junkyard, you will need to acquire a certain amount of bottles to advance the story. However, because this place has a variety of items and tools, it was almost like finding a needle in a haystack. Fortunately, Max will help you in these situations by giving you advice on where to go.
As the story progresses, decisions become more complicated, especially when someone’s life is at stake. Instead, we dive deeper into the concept of the Butterfly Effect, also known as Chaos Theory. With this idea in mind, Max’s relatively small choices begin to have more significant implications that can make you second-guess everything you’ve done. This mechanic definitely encourages players to revisit the game to see what they could have done differently.
After finishing Life Is Strange, my view of the characters changed with Before the Storm, which was included in the Arcadia Bay collection. This prequel series allowed fans to see through the eyes of Chloe, who we only saw through Max’s perspective. Honestly, my first impressions of Chloe weren’t entirely positive because of how reckless she could be in her pursuit of Amber.
Before The Storm completely flipped that aspect of the character on its head, introducing scenes from Chloe’s past and a depiction of her relationship with Rachel Amber. Suddenly, her selfish tendencies in the first game are transformed into acts of love, along with her teenage rebellion taking on new meaning. It was also really touching to see how much Chloe missed Max when he left for Seattle. For example, her diaries feature letters to Max that she never sends, and the character often mentions her when she sees a camera.
When comparing the two stories, Life Is Strange expresses Chloe’s tough personality, while Before the Storm shows her vulnerable side. As a result, I think playing these games together is essential because it really gives you a perspective on the entire narrative instead of just experiencing it through Max’s eyes.
Aside from Chloe Price, the prequel helps us understand what Rachel was really like, because the first game painted her as a mysterious, rebellious girl. However, I was surprised to see how wrong I was about this character and started to feel sympathy for Chloe’s drastic actions with Max. The reason for this change is mainly due to Price and Amber’s close relationship and the deep conversations that embody the raw emotions of teenagers.
Although there is no time travel mechanic, the game still has the essence of the supernatural, such as dream scenes where Chloe does not know what is real or not. In addition to this element, the playing time of Before the Storm is shorter than its predecessor, reducing the need to rewind time. In addition, there are new features such as persuasion chat topics where you have to pay attention to every word to get characters on your side.
Before The Storm clears up some Life Is Strange storylines that were briefly discussed, like how Chloe gets her famous truck. Plus, you’ll learn how he met Rachel, why she got kicked out of school, and what led David Madsen to marry her mother. Players will also return to familiar places that foreshadow moments from Max’s story, making you see each location differently.
If you miss Max, a bonus episode lets you play as her before she leaves for Seattle. Once again, you’ll be able to see the cast differently, going even further back in time to when Chloe and Max were innocent children. Despite being an hour-long story, it’s still a heart-felt one that can leave you in tears.
When I compared the Life Is Stange: Arcadia Bay collection to the previous versions, I noticed a significant difference in the graphics. For example, this latest game has a much brighter look, making the characters and environments more realistic. In addition, Before the Storm boosts gameplay by having faster walking speed and adjusting facial features.
The overall performance of the Nintendo Switch version shows an improvement compared to previous consoles. But the one thing I will note is the loading screens which can take a long time. Additionally, these instances start to feel tedious as the game goes on, because the collection often uses this mechanism to load the next scene. In addition, some moments feature a glassy-eyed look on the characters, which eventually disappears in a few seconds.
There are no noticeable frame rate issues and everything runs pretty much smoothly once the scene below starts playing. However, this is a Switch version, so it’s understandable that the game has long screen loading times and intermittent crashes.
Once I played both games, I noticed how much Chloe and Max are alike, despite their contrasting personalities. In particular, their willingness to save those they love is one of the most important similarities they share.
After all these years, the Life Is Strange series still stands the test of time, proving that video games can excel in the art of storytelling. With the release of the Arcadia Bay Collection, dedicated fans can revisit the world and newcomers can develop their own theories about the saga.