Why The Life Is Strange Devs Aren’t Making A Sequel With Lost Records

Image: Don’t Nod Entertainment
Image: Don’t Nod Entertainment

The Life Is Strange series started as French developer Don’t Nod’s baby back when the first game’s episodic rollout began in 2015. After two games, publisher Square Enix has placed the franchise in the hands of Deck Nine Games, which worked on the prequel Before the Storm and the most recent game in the series, True Colors. Don’t Nod, meanwhile, announced it’s working on another adventure series about teenagers, relationships, and supernatural elements in Lost Records: Bloom & Rage. When Kotaku got to talk with creative director Michel Koch and executive producer Luc Baghadoust, we had to ask: If all these similar ingredients are in the pot, why is Don’t Nod not simply cooking up a new Life is Strange game? It sounds like working with the series’ publisher made it difficult for the team to tell the stories it wanted to tell.

“When we started to work on the very first Life Is Strange a long time ago, we had no publishers,” Koch said. “We didn’t know exactly where we would sell the game or…if we would even sell it. [...] At this time, we were in need of publishing, and Square was interested in buying the games; they bought the rights for it, and they bought the franchise. [...] But since they bought the franchise, our hands were tied. We couldn’t really work as we wanted on what paths the character should go, what kind of game we could make, and how we would like to make the franchise evolve.”

Koch says self-publishing Lost Records means the studio is free to define the universe and build upon it “without any external pressure or constraints.” At the moment, Lost Records still appears evocative of the developer’s past work on adventure games like Life Is Strange and Tell Me Why. However, Koch says this freedom to define the Lost Records franchise will allow them to branch out further from what fans might expect.

“We’re trying to create another core story, universe, and world-building that we will discover first in Lost Records: Bloom & Rage that we can extend on later,” Koch said. “So it’s definitely slightly different. We’re also wanting to—maybe not completely at first in this first game—but also explore some slight different genres or mechanics that might slightly bend away from what exactly a narrative adventure game like Life Is Strange, Tell Me Why, Twin Mirror or even the Telltale Games would be.”

This follows a report that Square Enix was very hands-on with Deck Nine’s Life Is Strange: True Colors, with sources telling IGN the company didn’t want the famously inclusive franchise to be considered a “gay game.” From the sound of it, Don’t Nod will be free of any such scrutiny with Lost Records to explore storylines Square Enix may have pushed back on in Life Is Strange. It’s still a wild thing to consider, given the Life Is Strange games have received much praise for their inclusion of overtly political stories following queer characters and people of color. Lost Records: Bloom & Rage will launch on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S as a two-part episodic series later this year.

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