Life is Strange 2 interview: Easter Eggs, favourite moments and the puppyThe creators of Life is Strange 2 discuss spoilers, callbacks and what they’d change if they could remake Season One.
Our discussion with Life is Strange 2 co-Creative Director Michel Koch and Writer Jean-Luc Cano continues. In this spoiler-filled interview, we talk about the dangers of fan service, the best and worst bits from each season and Mushroom surprise.
If you missed the first (spoiler-light) part of this discussion, head over here:
Warning: Unrestrained spoilers for Life is Strange and Life is Strange 2 from this point
It must be tempting to cram each new Life is Strange 2 episode with Easter Eggs and references to Season One - how difficult is it deliver callbacks without negatively impacting the story?
Michel Koch: It’s tricky - callbacks and references to previous games shouldn’t impact story. There’s always opportunity - these games exist in the same world after all, but we add them only where it makes sense.
So the Arcadia Bay scene in the first episode is a good example - it was an organic way to reference the earlier games that fit logically into that part of the story.
Jean-Luc Cano: If you add too many callbacks or, you know, ‘fan service’ there’s a risk that we start to follow the story of the first game. That would be the wrong move. We’re moving on from the story and setting of Season 1.
But there are a few more subtle references planned for this season - I don’t want to spoil anything though!
I’ve written before about my favourite part of Life is Strange Episode 2 - where Sean and Daniel spend a night in the woods (read that here) and I’d like to talk about it a little. Firstly the scenery in those woodlands is stunning - how did you go about creating those ‘sets’?
Jean-Luc: I’m so glad you enjoyed that part of the game - it was one of the first things we finished when we started making Episode One, and I’m glad it turned out well.
Michel: The scenery was a challenge because we’ve never worked on that type of environment before. We went hiking in Washington and took lots of photos, which we used as reference.
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The scene features loads of little decisions that fold in on each other - how long did it take to get right?
Michel: It took a long time! It was one of the very first parts we worked on, as we started production of Life is Strange 2. So not only were we building the scene, we were using it to work out mechanics and things like that!
Jean-Luc: it would be much faster to make now!
Michel: (laughs) - yes it would. It also took time because it’s a really important scene. It’s the first major moment after the incident in Seattle, and we wanted to teach the player that they are now responsible for Daniel and will have to make decisions that affect both him and Sean.
It also felt like the moment you started to drive some of the main themes you’ve discussed home - such as Sean becoming a ‘parent’ to Daniel.
Michel: Right - it asks questions you wouldn’t normally have to think about as a teen. What do you eat? Where do you sleep? It’s where Sean - and hopefully the player too - starts to realise how hard life is going to be now.
Jean-Luc: And then you have Daniel in there too, as contrast. He’s enjoying himself, but he also gets scared, and you have to try to comfort him. I think it captures the main themes well - the responsibility of growing up.
What scenes from the entire Life is Strange series are you particularly proud of? What makes them work in your opinion?
Jean-Luc: …favourite moment in the games. Too many!
(After much thought) I think the end of the first episode of Life is Strange season 1 works really well. It introduces the relationship between Max and Chloe and I think the use of the song is really effective.
Also the end of Episode 3 - again, it changes the Max and Chloe relationship in a dramatic way, but in a way that ties in really well with the themes of that series.
In terms of Life is Strange 2, the first scene came together in a way I liked - the interactions with Esteban, the fight with Brett… I think it works.
Michel: The quieter moments are actually my favourite. After Max and Chloe go swimming in Season One - Max wakes up and you can just lie in bed and listen to music. Quiet Eyes, I think the song is.
When we have the chance to do those quiet moments… I love it.
As for Life is Strange 2, I like the part where Sean and Daniel are in the old house in the snow. The part when Sean goes for a smoke - you can tell from his face and body language he’s worried. Then he tries and fails to lift a rock, you can see the frustration that he’s not the one with the powers.
And it’s all done with just music and no voices.
On the flipside of that, if you could have a do-over, which parts of the game would you change and why?
Jean-Luc: Oof - that’s a good question. I don’t think I’d change anything now - no scene is ever perfect, but they are what they are, you know?
Michel: I think… Episode 5 of Life is Strange Season One - I’d make Mr Jefferson a bit less shady. It was a bit… “mwahaha - now I will tell you my master plan.” I think that section went on a bit long - but I’m not sure how I’d change it!
Finally, the big one… WHY DID YOU KILL MUSHROOM?!
Michel: It was actually in the very first draft. We killed the dog because we wanted to establish the ground rules for Daniel’s powers, and then present a situation where those rules are tested.
It’s basically a battle between heart and mind, right? You’re telling Daniel not to use those powers, but then we hit the player with an emotional scene that challenges the very rules they set.
So it’s not because you’re heartless monsters?
Jean-Luc: (laughs) Well, that too!