The Life is Strange series has taken me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions since I first started playing. From being worried about Chloe’s future to wondering if she’s happily speeding in the fast lane for failure. Having gone back and played the original series, Chloe and Maxine “Max” Caulfield have come a long way since they were children. In this heartbreaking final episode, we go back to before the original and prequel series to witness the setup of how things played out for these two friends. Even the original voice actor for Chloe, Ashley Bursch, returns to her iconic roll for the awesome, blue-haired punk fans have come to love.
The Farewell episode takes place on the day before everything changed for Chloe, including when Max moves away. Her best friend is on the fence about telling her about the move and is reluctant to mention it on such a great day. It’s a situation that’s not going to be easy as Max, wishing they could have just “one more day” together where things can just stay the way they’d always been. Just create one more happy memory together of them being friends and, at least for a short time, ignore the uncertainties of the future.
During their unsuccessful excavation of Chloe’s room, Max keeps coming across junk and old belongings that reminds her of the deep friendship she shares with Chloe. How every piece of old garbage is just another facet of the children they once were, like that old board game with missing pieces to a dusty stuffed shark. Max shares shares these memories through an inner monologue, even proclaiming her loyalty to the all-mighty glow bear.
The Chloe Max knows before the events of the original and prequel series is a far cry from the free-thinking, cooler than sliced bread, and blue haired punk that I’ve come to know and love. The Chloe presented in the original Life is Strange makes up her own rules and isn’t shy to give people a piece of her mind. The current incarnation before those events is a shy girl whose nervous about being accepted to Blackwell Academy on a scholarship. She’s still quirky and weird with a hint of teenage rebellion, but her shyness is so unlike the person she is in the present, it’s like being introduced to a new person.
While their unfruitful cleaning task is underway, Max and Chloe come across an old tape they recorded when they were eight years old. Lo and behold, Captain Chloe has kept a treasure map from their bygone days of taking over the seven seas and stealing treasure. Following a set of clues left by their childhood selves, their adventure for buried treasure takes them on a trip down memory lane, slowly revealing that not everything is alright in Chloe’s life. Max comes across small things indicating something bigger is amiss, like an email on her mom’s computer about an incident Chloe had with another student at Blackwell Academy.
There’s a bittersweet nostalgia to how familiar her friend’s house feels and the looming unknown of the future laying in wait for them. Even armed with the knowledge of what will ultimately happen between them, it’s disheartening to see the potential their futures had in the beginning. The carefree days of their childhood has come to an end and now the two friends are faced with growing up as people and the potential reality their friendship may not last the challenges that lay ahead of them. At their core, Chloe and Max are two people who, at least for a while, have to venture down their own roads alone.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm was an excellent prequel series about growing up and the friendships we create; Farewell is bittersweet, an episode that lives up to its name. There’s a childhood joy that comes with growing up and wanting to defy it in the face of pretending to be a pirate for the rest of your life. In the moment, the people you care about most are right there by your side – only to be gone in a flash. The lesson I drew from Farewell is that circumstances may force us to say goodbye when we least expect it.