There are significant spoilers ahead for Life is Strange and the prequel, Before the Storm.
Tragedy is built into the very core of Life is Strange. It’s more prevalent in Before the Storm, where the horrible inevitability of how it all ends hangs over every moment of joy and laughter. Farewell is both the beginning and the bittersweet finale, centering around Max’s final day with Chloe before her family departs to Seattle – which also happens to be the day Chloe’s father dies. Every moment is loaded with subtext and foreshadowing, but it never feels overwhelming, and there’s still joy in the Price home – discovering lost pirate plunder, rifling through equally treasured childhood memories, and seeing Chloe as she was before the storm, so to speak.
It opens with Max helping Chloe decide what memories and trinkets she wants to throw in the trash, and it becomes immediately apparent that Chloe doesn’t want to let go of anything – every toy a friend, every bit of apparent rubbish laden with defining moments in their friendship. Throughout the day Max struggles with how to tell Chloe she’s leaving, and when she eventually does – well, it’s surprising, and something you should see for yourself. The Life is Strange light puzzling and moments of contemplation are there in a condensed capacity, but essentially, this short glimpse into their history is one conversation, and another bunch of opportunities for the series to stab you in the heart. There’s always room for more, but it’s important to remember this was a bonus episode to sell deluxe editions, and maybe it’s best that Deck Nine cut the cord with all the urgency of tearing off a plaster, lest it run on too long and lessen the impact.
After playing Before the Storm (for me at least) Chloe has taken center stage as the character the game revolves around, and Farewell feels like an acknowledgement of that. Max feels like she’s there to show you the moment everything changed for her – a bright young girl surrounded by love and joy, giving way to grief, which gives way to the seeds of rage without a place to go. There are all the promises of nothing changing, of phonecalls and letters that we know fall by the wayside. We know that Chloe never stopped calling and writing, but Max, due to her own insecurities and the processes of growing up, didn’t keep up her end of the bargain, which makes Max’s attempts to reassure her tragically hollow. Adding Before the Storm to the original series gives you both sides of the story, making it difficult to place blame anywhere. Growing up and growing apart is natural, Max is shy by nature, and though she has the best intentions, the physical distance inevitably made it too difficult for her to keep it up.
It’s beautiful, it’s sad, and almost everything Max and Chloe’s goodbye should be. I’m torn between wanting some time-travelling MacGuffin delivering us some more of the dynamic duo or just leaving it all to rest as the tear-stained tapestry it is, a collection of friendships lost and reclaimed, untouched by the ravages of sequels. They’ve told a story that has come full circle, and despite how beloved these characters are, it’s time to move on – safe in the knowledge that should we want to return, the fearless pirates of Arcadia Bay will always be there.
Goodbye, Life is Strange. It’s been hella cool.
Normally we give you guys a breakdown of key points of the review and a score here – but as Farewell is part of Before the Storm I think it would be more appropriate to score it as part of our wrap up review of the series. Stay tuned.