DONTNOD is quietly gearing up for the release of its episodic adventure title Life is Strange, and over the weekend the studio offered up a behind the scenes look at the game via a new dev diary.
In it, we learn more about the inspirations behind the murder mystery, the creative team involved, and how the company was initially greeted with apprehension when it unveiled the game’s lead protagonist to be female. Prior to partnering with Square Enix, DONTNOD revealed that several publishers pushed for the developer to switch the character’s gender.
“We had other publishers tell us, ‘Make it a male lead character,'” company employees reveal in a new dev diary for the game. “Square were basically the only publisher that didn’t want to change a single thing about the game. … Square didn’t even question [the decision to make Max female] once.”
That protagonist in question is Max Caulfield, a student who returns to her hometown Arcadia Bay, Oregon only to discover that an old friend has disappeared. And so, teaming up with her estranged best friend Chloe, the pair venture out to look for the missing girl and ultimately discover the dark secrets lurking beneath the Life is Strange‘s idyllic setting.
Interestingly, DONTNOD had a similar reaction when it first presented its debut title, Remember Me, back in 2012. Orbiting around an Errorist known as Nilin, the somewhat underwhelming action-adventure game mixed cyberpunk and other sci-fi elements into a Neo-Parisian setting. That said, thanks to a confusing combat system, the title was ironically forgettable.
But that hasn’t hampered the studio’s creative drive when it comes to moulding compelling female characters for the audience to empathize with. Dropping the action-oriented gameplay of its forebearer, Life is Strange can be likened to Gone Home in that players will unravel the story at their own pace without the need for combat. Up to this point, all signs indicate that DONTNOD’s sophomore effort is a visually astute, almost melancholic experience. We can only hope that the narrative is on par with the stunning visuals.
Life is Strange will debut its first episode across PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC on January 30.