Life is Strange instantly won people’s hearts when it was first released in 2015. And since that time the game has grown into an entire franchise. It’s easy to see why people love Life is Strange so much.
The franchise is known for gripping storylines with characters who act like real people put into fantastical situations.
Players get to direct the actions of protagonists who live in an emotionally rich world where choices have real consequences.
What’s less easy to understand is the series’ overall chronology and relationship with each other.
Which games require playing the others first? Is any given title a good place to jump into the series?
You’ll soon find the answers to all of those questions and more.
Let’s discuss “Life is Strange” games in the order they were released below:
1) Life Is Strange (2015)
In 2015 there wasn’t a Life is Strange franchise yet. There was only a single video game bearing that name.
Everything begins within the story of Max Caulfield’s return to her hometown of Arcadia Bay. But her new life as a high school student in Arcadia Bay gets off to a strange start. An event early in the game unlocks Max’s surprising talent.
Max can rewind time. At first, this ability just seems like an easy way to get the right answers in class.
But before Max knows it she’s become embroiled in the dramatic life of her former best friend Chole. This leads to investigations of crime, supernatural power, and the nature of friendship.
This game set the tone for almost everything to follow in the franchise. It has a unique voice and humor that set it apart from almost everything else at the time of release.
And the game’s mechanics allow for choices that have some real level of consequence. All of this makes it an ideal game for anyone interested in the franchise to start with.
Whether that’s in the form of this first release of the game or the 2022 remaster.
2) Life is Strange: Before the Storm (2017)
The story of the original Life is Strange would continue forward in comic book form while this video game release would instead look backward.
“Life is Strange: Before the Storm” is a prequel that looks into the events that occurred in Arcadia Bay before Max returned.
Players step into the shoes of Chole to see exactly what’s behind some of the events that are only hinted at in the first game.
At first, this might seem like an essential pairing with the original Life is Strange. But Before the Storm is very much its own game. There’s a lot to love about it. But it’s equally important to keep the constraints of sequels in mind.
Life is Strange tends to emphasize the importance of choices. But as a prequel, Before the Storm can’t contradict anything from the original.
Before the Storm is a great way to see more of a beloved character from the original game. But it’s not really required in order to fully understand Life is Strange.
And that’s true of Before the Storm’s impact on both the original game and the franchise as a whole. Before the Storm is fun, but it’s not really required in order to understand the games which came before or after.
3) The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit (2018)
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is a short game set three years after the events of the original Life is Strange and concurrently with Life is Strange 2.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is technically a demo for Life is Strange 2. However, it has a full storyline that can even impact the events of Life is Strange 2.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit tells the story of Chris Erikson. This imaginative boy often views the world around him as though he were in a superhero-themed adventure.
In reality, this often serves as a coping mechanism for his attempts to deal with the death of his mother. But what happens when an actual superpower is released into his life?
Players find out while also getting a glimpse into the larger story of Life is Strange 2. All of this means that The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is best played before starting Life is Strange 2.
4) Life is Strange 2 (2018-19, Episodes 1 to 5)
Life is Strange 2 was released in an episodic format between January 2019 and February 2020.
It focuses on the lives of Sean and his younger brother Daniel as they run away from their Seattle home. The death of their father was only the start of the brother’s problems.
An explosion and strange telekinetic powers make their escape even more of a pressing matter. The player controls the brothers as they trek from Seattle to Puerto Lobos in Mexico.
Players aren’t just tasked with a difficult road trip though. Sean needs to carefully consider how his choices will impact his younger brother’s emotional development. Not to mention that Daniel’s telekinetic powers are also a concern.
Life is Strange 2 doesn’t have very many strong narrative links to the original. There are a few minor plot elements that will come up. And the game outright asks players about a decision made at the end of the first game.
The question is itself a spoiler to the original game’s ending. As such, it’s generally a good idea to play the original Life is Strange before starting Life is Strange 2.
5) Life Is Strange: True Colors (2021)
“Life Is Strange: True Colors” broke away from many of the trends from earlier games in the franchise. Unlike the other games, it wasn’t released episodically.
True Colors was released in its entirety in 2021. The other big break comes from the setting. True Colors shifts away from a focus on the Pacific Northwest to instead look into the life of Alex Chen after her move to Colorado.
As with the other games, True Colors gives players the chance to work with a special power.
In Alex’s case this is an ability to absorb the emotions of others. Her ability, called Empathy, will prove vital after the death of her brother opens up a dark mystery for players to investigate.
True Colors takes place six years after the events of the original game and has some minor connections with it. The most obvious is a minor character from the first game appearing in a more fleshed-out role in True Colors.
But for the most part, True Colors stands apart from the rest of the series and can be played without any knowledge of them.
However, there’s one major exception to that rule. True Colors has a bonus DLC episode called Wavelengths.
Wavelengths deals with the immediate events that followed the ending of the first game. As such, it’s best to avoid playing the Wavelengths DLC if you haven’t played the first Life is Strange yet.
6) Life is Strange Remastered Collection (2022)
The Life is Strange Remastered Collection features remastered versions of Life is Strange and Life is Strange: Before the Storm.
This collection’s biggest draw comes from the extensive work put into the two game’s graphics. The collection provides a reimagining of Life is Strange and Before the Storm’s overall look.
It’s not simply upscaling graphical resources either. The studio dramatically improved the appearance of most major characters and even worked with facial motion capture to add more lifelike expressions.
However, this is also one of the larger issues with the remaster. The fully upgraded graphical content can clash rather harshly with graphics that didn’t receive as much attention.
There are a few instances where the remastered graphics overlook details that were present in the original art assets. The remastered collection also has some additional bugs which weren’t present in the originals.
But despite those issues, the Life is Strange Remastered Collection is still a great way for new players to experience the franchise’s roots. It collects and improves on the first two games. And it also brings all of the DLC into a single package.