Life is Strange: Before the Storm Farewell finds itself as perhaps the perfect final epitaph for this miniseries as a whole. It doesn’t have quite the same magic or spark as the original LiS yet is capable of moments of pure emotional weight and power like little else I’ve seen. Unquestionably its final act ranks among the finest of Life is Strange’s mythology and without question its promise to say farewell to the two characters at the soul of LiS was a promise delivered in spades.
From the jump one of my biggest criticism’s of Before the Storm is that the absence of Max left a void that festered and only grew with time. The heart of Life is Strange has always been Max and Chloe’s bond together and here, finally, that came roaring back. Yet, with despair and pain hovering just off screen and with the knowledge that Max is moving away, not to return until five years later just before the events of Life is Strange proper the somberness and feelings of finality to the proceedings threaten to overwhelm. Being given agency and deciding how Max and Chloe’s last day together plays out before everything changes, before the horrors of the world rip asunder their collective lives in more ways then one, was a haunting, charming, and dread inducing sensation.
Throughout Farewell I felt like a man walking to his execution. I knew how this story played out, I knew where we were headed years from now. Numerous times throughout the three main episodes of Before the Storm I mentioned how prequels are hard to get right, how knowing what’s going to happen can rip much of the tension and drama out of the proceedings. Here, in Farewell, developer Deck Nine learned from this and stripped out everything except that which has always been the heart and soul of the series, Max and Chloe.
This is without question the most minimalist and low key episode of any Life is Strange related story. You will never leave Chloe’s house. You won’t spend more then 90 minutes, and that’s doing everything, playing the episode. This is an story focused on one thing. Saying goodbye.
Knowing where we are heading and how things will play out five years from now during the events of the original Life is Strange give everything an extra weight, intimacy and tinge of melancholy. There were moments where I laughed and smiled and felt myself swell with joy, swept up yet again by these two characters that I know and love so much, that I’ve poured so much into, that have connected to me in such a personal and deeply relatable way. This was the first time Max and Chloe had been on screen together since episode 5 aired back in 2015. I treasured these joyous moments, even as they were always short-lived. I knew how this played out. I knew where we were heading years from now, I knew this was the end.
Farewell is not a perfect episode, far from it. As I mentioned above it still suffers from many of the problems as the rest of Before the Storm’s run. Pacing is an issue here like elsewhere in the miniseries and the writing and dialogue largely remains not as sharp, clever, or emotional as in Life is Strange proper’s run. The story meanders around and spins it wheels at times, yet every now and then things will all click together and we will given a brief glimpse at the emotions and magic that made the original Life is Strange so special.
Farewell’s final act is a powerful and beautiful testament to what has been built over all these years. It is here that the episode shifts to what is in essence one long continuous deeply moving farewell to these characters and to this world you’ve come to know and love so much. Heartbreak strikes, disaster explodes forth, lives are forever changed, and Max and Chloe will be transformed, moving ever closer to the young women we know by the time of Life is Strange.
It is at times spellbinding, it is obvious what Deck Nine is going for, and it is above all else deeply emotional. Prequels are hard and the story in Life is Strange has always been strangely told. We opened at the close and we find ourselves closing at the beginning. Farewell has us at the last day when things were normal, when Max and Chloe were just two girls playing pirates, going off on epic treasure hunts to the backyard and the terrifying realm known as the attic. They were kids. No superpowers. No abilities to rewind time. No fear of destruction of Arcadia Bay or unraveling a horrific murder mystery. No racing against the clock to save one another, to rekindle the bonds and relationship you once had. You are little kids, enjoying your last ever day of peace and of being little.
Farewell’s ending scene is a gut-punch of a farewell, this is not a game intent on leaving things nice and lovely, Life is Strange has never sought to do that, it is a moment to say goodbye, to offer up parting words to Max Caulfield and Chloe Price, these two extraordinarily special people. These two beautifully realized and thoughtful women who, if you are like me, connected and burrowed themselves deep into your heart, changed you a little, until suddenly and like a train blasting out of hell it was over. It was done.
It was finally time to say farewell.