Life is Strange: Before the Storm - Farewell Review
We’re not used to saying farewell in video games. Sequels are often developed to keep series going on indefinitely; remasters are released to bring us back to worlds we’ve already said goodbye to; new franchises are constantly born and piquing our interest. But Life is Strange: Before the Storm’s bonus episode, Farewell, makes sure that you have the chance to say goodbye once and for all to Max and Chloe. It’s a bittersweet end, for if you know how the story unfolds, you know there isn’t a happy ending. However, it’s a short and sweet episode that will absolutely make fans smile and celebrate the past several years with these characters, and ultimately allow the series to move on without them.
The episode begins in Chloe’s room, with the series’ familiar duo quipping jokes and reminiscing on their memories as they clear out Chloe’s childhood junk from her room. Max is slightly preoccupied though, as she is trying to get the courage to tell her best friend that she’ll be leaving to Seattle soon. It’s the most life-changing day in Chloe’s life not just because Max will be moving soon, but also because it is the day when her father dies. Right from the start, it’s an emotional experience for fans of Life is Strange, seeing more of who she used to be before her life became radically transformed in that one day.
The pace is slow and, for the majority of the episode, the tone is a beautiful blend of goofy, happy, and carefree. Here, Chloe and Max are still kids, relatively naive to loss, love, time-traveling, and regret. The combination of the pace and tone works extremely well because although the episode has an underlying sadness due to the plot, it allows fans to remember why they love these characters so much -- why Chloe’s rebellious streak is so endearing and why Max’s complementary shyness makes them such a good pair. With the return of the original voice actresses, the episode is clearly crafted with a simple love and appreciation for these characters, and that affection is easy to feel as a fan even when knowing this will be the last we’ll see of them.
While the episode is short and sweet, it would’ve been great if the episode was a bit longer. It’s not a significant flaw, though, because the episode accomplishes exactly what it was meant to do. Much like Chloe, Max, and Arcadia Bay, the episode tugs at your heartstrings but it doesn’t overstay its welcome. It simply exists to remind you of why you love this universe, and through witty and emotional dialogue, simple puzzles that lead to touching moments, gorgeous cinematic shots, and a beautiful soundtrack, it excels at fulfilling its purpose.
In terms of a video game episode, Farewell is unorthodox. It’s extremely short, contains very little gameplay, introduces no new characters, has a simple plot, has no shocking revelations, and likely won’t resonate with you unless you’re already a passionate fan. And yet, it works. Farewell is both a love letter and a goodbye letter to the first season of Life is Strange. It knows its reason for existing, fulfills it, and doesn’t linger for any longer than necessary.
As a fan of the series since launch day, playing through Farewell was an extremely bittersweet experience. I wanted to have even more time with these characters, longer than an hour for sure, but I knew it was time to finally let them go. Max and Chloe have been such an important part of my life, and the beauty of Farewell lies in how it recognizes and embodies that feeling that exists in so many fans like myself. In a way, it allows fans to grieve over having to say goodbye to these characters, and it does so in the most beautiful way: by taking you back to a time in which they were happier, reminding you of why you got attached to these characters in the first place.
Emotional experiences like this are why art exists. Art is subjective and sometimes we love a piece of art not because it is objectively the best, but because it has resonated with us in a way we could have never predicted. I might have said farewell to them, but Max and Chloe will stay with me for years to come, and I’m cautious but excited to see where the series will go now that it has said farewell to Arcadia Bay.