Life is Strange 2 does a pretty good job through most of its five episodes of not crossing the path of Sean and Daniel Diaz with that of Life is Strange stars Max Caulfield and Chloe Price.
Whether this is so developer Dontnod didn’t have to account for different choices made in the first game or so the Diaz brothers could have their own story without feeling tied to what came before, for four out of five episodes, Life is Strange 2 only really acknowledges the original game once. By only having the two fugitive brothers pass by the town of Arcadia Bay (or what’s left of it) and react accordingly, Max, Chloe, and the Diaz brothers maintain very separate lives.
For awhile, I thought I was okay with that. I even preferred it. If a story has said all it needs to say, it doesn’t need to be revisited. But before Life is Strange 2 signs off during its incredible final episode that launched earlier this week, it made me go into a trailer in a small town in the Arizona desert. I was there to pick up a police scanner, but it was the last thing on my mind once I set foot inside it.
This trailer belonged to David Madsen, the stepfather of Chloe Price. He was an antagonistic, militaristic, paranoid character for most of the first Life is Strange, but now he was living a life of solitude after the loss of his wife Joyce, who died in a storm that ruined Arcadia Bay in my playthrough.
That was a storm I caused in a different life. As Max Caulfield, I used my powers of time travel so many times to save the life of my friend Chloe that nature caught up with me, and it used the storm to tear down my dorm at Blackwell Academy where I was studying photography, the diner where Chloe’s mother worked for years to make ends meet, and the junkyard where Chloe and I had spent so much of our time together. And it was all to save her. I made that decision knowing that if I didn’t use my powers to let Chloe die, the storm would blaze a trail through Arcadia Bay and take anyone in the town with it.
But now I knew it wasn’t actually everyone. David was here, and entering his trailer was like opening a box of secrets I never thought I’d get to see. I’d spent all the time being fine without knowing what happened to Max and Chloe after they left Arcadia Bay, to the point where I never even bothered to start reading the ongoing comic series that follows the ending I chose, but here, as Sean Diaz I was rummaging through David’s belongings to paint a picture of what their lives must look like now.
Looking through David’s trailer and seeing relics of a life lived by a character I once inhabited was like having to watch a past life through a soundproof glass window. Sean had no idea who the people were in the photos David had plastered up, he didn’t know who V. Chase was or why them sending a letter to David thanking him for saving them from a bunker shook me to my core, and he certainly didn’t know how meaningful it was to me to hear that he and Chloe have made up. After hating each other in her teen years, Chloe and David are at the point where they’re keeping in contact with each other and visiting on some kind of semi-regular basis.
After I was sure I’d seen everything David’s trailer had for me to see, I walked out with the police scanner and was ready to head out, but not before he gave me directions to the border and a stern talking to about how I could best protect my brother. Then he got a phone call. He gave me an abridged goodbye then closed himself back into that trailer, but I could still hear him if I stood outside. He never mentioned the name of who he was talking to, but he called them “sweetie,” mentioned someone named Max looking into galleries in New York, and said they’d see the solar panels he’d put up next time they came to visit. It wouldn’t be while Sean and Daniel were there, but it would be soon, I hope.
With three games under its belt, Life is Strange feels bigger than either character it follows. It’s more than just a girl using time travel to save her friend and, even as I’m still reeling from the events of Life is Strange 2, it feels bigger than two fugitive brothers using one’s telekinesis to escape the country. I don’t know what, if anything will come next (especially with Dontnod starting a new adventure game in Tell Me Why, coming next year), but in David’s trailer I found an epilogue I never got, and now I know what happened to all of the characters who I guided through their supernatural lives. The endings haven’t been entirely happy. In a world like Life is Strange nothing ever really is. But they’re good. And I’m glad to know that with a semblance of certainty.