My Brain Is So Ready For Life Is Strange: Double Exposure’s Multi-Dimensional Murder Mystery

My emotions? Jury's out.

Life is Strange is a series I’ve long held in regard for the way in which it tells unique and deeply human stories through compelling twists and with memorable characters, and it’s done so right from the admittedly awkward series debut. So cue my excitement during the recent Xbox Game Showcase it was revealed that Max Caulfield, the first game’s protagonist, would be returning in an all-new entry helmed by Deck Nine, the folks responsible for arguably the two best games in the series, Before the Storm and True Colours.

Now, Square Enix and Deck Nine have treated fans to an extended and more in-depth look at the game after its short reveal earlier this week, diving further into the mechanics of Max’s newfound powers and how they factor into this chilling new story.

The presentation opens with narrative director Felice Kuan explaining that the past three years since the release of True Colours have been spent with the Life is Strange team working on something worthy of Max’s return, and especially paying respect to the two possible endings of the first game while still offering a fresh experience for old and new fans. And the result, as you may have seen from the initial reveal, is a game that plays around with the idea of multiple realities in a way that I’m sure has let the team fully explore Max’s origins, her world and her future in exciting ways.

At the heart of it all though, is exactly what fans of the first Life is Strange would hope for – a supernatural murder mystery with rich characters and a story driven by meaningful player choices and unique mechanics. And at the centre of it all, the now-older Max, who after witnessing a tragic event involving a friend finds that the powers she discovered in the original game have evolved and she can now shift her reality and another – including one where Safi is still alive.

It’s a brilliant next step from the time-bending powers of the first Life is Strange, giving Max (and the player) even more complex problems to solve by having her actions cause a ripple effect across two dimensions. It also makes for a promising murder mystery narrative – one where the murder you’re trying to solve in one reality hasn’t happened yet in another, offering the chance to prevent it.

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Kuan and game director Jonathan Stauder describe in the showcase the complexity of writing a murder mystery with these supernatural, mind-fuckery elements, and also with the challenge of there being two versions of every character who do and can have different relationships with Max depending on events and actions taken within those timelines. It sounds like a mammoth undertaking for the game’s writers.

We also get a good look at Max’s “shift” power in action, which looks to have two key elements to it. One is that she’s able to get a sense of important objects and people in the alternate timeline without having to actually go there, which should make for less shifting back and forth and more parallel investigations. And then to physically move between realities she’ll look for weak spots in the fabric of space and use those as doorways, complete with a very “current-gen” feeling instant load between the two different versions of the world.

Across the rest of the showcase we get in-depth chats with Max’s voice actor, Hannah Telle, on voicing and motion capturing an older Max, and then finally the main feature – an extended look at gameplay showing an early segment of the game leading into the pivotal moment that kicks off this new adventure. It’s well worth a look-in for fans and anyone curious about the series, so make sure you check it out right below:

It bears mentioning that Deck Nine is one of many studios that’s laid off big portions of their staff in recent months and years, with a 20% overall reduction back in February, so while it’s unclear how much that’s affected the Life is Strange team in particular there’s still a bittersweet element to this otherwise-exciting news for fans. At the time, a game director at Deck Nine, Stephen Ford, admitted that leadership had also taken pay cuts in an effort to reduce how many staff were let go and said that the studio was “the strongest it had ever been.”

Life is Strange: Double Exposure launches October 29th for PS5, Xbox Series X|S and PC, with a Switch version coming at a later date. In a divisive move that could be argued as a nod to the episodic nature of the earlier games, those who pre-order the Ultimate Edition will get access to the first two chapters of the game two weeks early.