Life is Strange: Remastered Collection review – The best way to experience Arcadia Bay

An image of Max and Chloe in Life is Strange Remastered with the words 'review' in the cornerSquare Enix / Dexerto

The Life is Strange: Remastered Collection takes us back to the familiar shores of Arcadia Bay, giving us the chance to revisit the stories of Max Caulfield and Chloe Price once more. With a new engine, lighting upgrades, and refined visuals, this trip back in time to the franchise’s first two games is nothing short of nostalgic.

The Remastered Collection revitalizes both Life is Strange and Before the Storm, bringing the stories of Max and Chloe to brand new audiences while letting those familiar with their tales re-experience them in higher fidelity.

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Max Caulfield has the power to rewind time, and with it, you’ll learn about the colorful cast of characters within Arcadia Bay as she comes to understand her gift, all while trying to unravel the mystery surrounding it.

Chloe Price is Max’s best friend, and while she may not have a superpower in her own game, her multi-faceted, bold nature allows her to navigate the world while dealing with feelings of anger, loss, and loneliness.

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Life is Strange: Remastered Collection – key details

  • Price: $39.99/£33.99
  • Developer: Deck Nine
  • Release Date: February 1, 2022
  • Platforms: PlayStation, PC, Xbox, & Google Stadia. Nintendo Switch release to come later.

Life is Strange: Remastered Collection trailer

Breathing new life into the strange

While the story of Life is Strange: Remastered Collection is the same as in the original games, it’s the visual upgrades that take center stage here. As soon as you load into Max or Chloe’s respective stories, the new enhancements are instantly recognizable. Their character models may have been redesigned, but they still retain their unique personalities, which are only taken to the next level with more emotive facial mocap performances.

Hair reacts to movement and weather effects more naturally, skin details are much more noticeable, and eyes catch and reflect the light just so. Lip-syncing is heavily improved, meaning that characters no longer feel as if they’ve forgotten their lines, helping to improve overall immersion. If you’ve played the game before, you’ll feel right at home here with its familiar style – but everything feels more in focus, vibrant, and alive than in the originals.

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An image of Chloe and Max in a truck in Life is Strange Remastered CollectionSquare Enix
Life is Strange and Before the Storm’s visuals take their respective stories up a notch while still feeling familiar.

Arcadia Bay is as much of a central character as its teenage inhabitants are, and Deck Nine have continued to treat it as such with a slew of gorgeous, cinematic upgrades. Some scenes appear to have different color grading than their original counterparts to convey mood, and higher-resolution environment textures give the game more definition while keeping its artistic, painterly style.

Lighting upgrades are one of Arcadia Bay’s most apparent changes, with more shading, brighter lights, and deeper shadows helping to wash away some of the flatter tones of its predecessor. One setting that looks particularly stunning is Chloe’s bedroom which, in both games, truly allows the remaster to shine. God rays and dust particles stream through the bedroom window, lights give off gorgeous colors that radiate around its surroundings, and deeper shadows allow all of these enhanced effects to really pop.

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Chloe's bedroom in Life is Strange

Chloe's bedroom in Life is Strange Before the StormSquare Enix
Chloe’s bedroom is featured in story points throughout both games and has been upgraded with stunning lighting effects.

A branching tale that’s as compelling as ever

While Life is Strange: Remastered Collection is a treat for those that have already walked the streets of Arcadia Bay and the halls of Blackwell Academy, the remaster is the perfect opportunity for those who have yet to experience either story. Both are coming-of-age tales that deal with the all-too-familiar feeling of trying to figure out just who you are in the world and how you fit into it, and it holds up just as well in 2022.

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Max, who is from Arcadia Bay, has returned to the town five years after she moved to Seattle along with her parents, having originally left behind her best friend, Chloe. Simply a new girl to the other senior students of Blackwell Academy, she struggles to find her place in her class and is widely regarded as an outcast. Her superpower is an incredibly flashy feature that holds up well to this day, allowing you to rewind in real-time back through the action to redo certain steps or use new information received in the ‘future’ to progress.

An image of Max using her rewind powerSquare Enix
Max’s rewind power is as slick and effective as it was in 2015.

This is interwoven with a simultaneously relatable, sad, uplifting, and incredibly joyful tale about friendship – and none of each of these themes ever prevents the other from truly shining.

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Before the Storm puts us in the shoes of Chloe three years prior to the events of the first game, allowing us to see a character that’s still learning about herself and how to deal with still-raw feelings of anger, loss, loneliness, and rebellion. In it, we explore the tale of her relationship with Rachel Amber, an enigmatic character who is felt throughout all of Life is Strange’s first game without actually being present herself.

While Chloe doesn’t have a superpower, conversations will oftentimes present a ‘Backtalk’ option. This presents you with a mini-game where you’ll tête-à-tête with another character, volleying insults back and forth while you try and outwit them, in a turn-based style. It fits perfectly with who she is, and never feels cheaper or less impactful than any of the franchise’s superpower-wielding characters.

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An image of Blackwell Academy in Life is StrangeSquare Enix
Textures throughout the game’s environments have been greatly improved, like Blackwell Academy.

What’s more, the world is full to the brim of things to interact with, and it’s easy to while away the hours looking through Max and Chloe’s seemingly endless diaries and text messages. Returning to it in 2022, there were definitely things I’d missed in my first and second playthroughs, and its branching narrative paths and outcomes mean that each playthrough can take a slightly different route as the story chugs along towards its finale.

Its musical score is as gripping and memorable as ever, with songs like ‘To All of You’ by Syd Matters and my personal favorite, ‘Santa Monica Dream’ by Angus & Julia Stone, only adding to the halcyon escape that these games provide.

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The highest praise I can give to Life is Strange and its prequel is that both stories feel just as resonant as they did when I first experienced the franchise in 2015 – despite all that’s changed for the world, and me personally, since then.

Life is Strange, and a little buggy

Chloe in Life is Strange RemasteredSquare Enix
Some glitches – like Chloe’s shiny eyelashes in this scene – hold back what is an otherwise fantastic remaster.

Life is Strange: Remastered Collection only ever really falls short when it comes to a few bugs, visual glitches, and some missed opportunities. In Life is Strange, I’d notice unnerving, vacant unblinking stares from characters who undoubtedly had eyelids of steel.

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Some ambient NPCs appear as if they have had less of a facelift than the central characters, and it can feel jarring to have these older models conversing with Max or Chloe. Shiny eyelashes in Episode 2 looked like Chloe was trying out some cool new type of mascara, and some over (and under) exposed lighting in scenes were only exacerbated by the rest of the meticulous remaster.

Rating: 8.5/10

As far as remasters go, Deck Nine has very nearly hit the nail on the head. With refreshed visuals and animations that bring this immersive world to life even more than the original games did, it’s easy to get lost in the stories and world of our two protagonists. Life is Strange has the most notable visual differences due to its age, but both games feel refreshed enough that they feel shiny and new.

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Visual bugs, the occasional unblinking stare, and ambient NPCs with fewer model changes can break immersion, but whether you’re returning to Arcadia Bay or visiting it for the first time, this remaster truly is the definitive way to play.

Reviewed on PC

Where to buy Life is Strange: Remastered Collection

You can purchase Life is Strange: Remastered Collection by following these links to Amazon and Best Buy, but please note that if you click on a product link on this page, we may earn a small affiliate commission.

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