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What We’re Playing: Is ‘Life Is Strange Remastered Collection’ Worth the Money?

Life Is Strange Remaster Collection promotional art
Square Enix

Life Is Strange Remastered Collection is now available for most platforms. And the big question surrounding its release is if it’s worth buying over the original versions or rebuying them if you already own the first two games. Read on to find out if it’s right for you.

What Is Life Is Strange?

For those who haven’t played the series, here’s a quick primer: Square Enix released the original Life Is Strange back in 2015. The game follows the adventures of Max Caulfield. She’s a high school senior with the ability to rewind time. When she returns to her hometown of Arcadia Bay, Oregon, she and her childhood friend, Chloe Price, embark on a quest to solve the mystery of Chole’s missing friend Rachel Amber. And to stop Max’s visions of a gigantic tornado destroying the town from coming true.

Max sees a vision of a tornado destroying Arcadia Bay.
Square Enix

The game was a hit. Players loved the characters, fresh take on time travel, mysterious plot, and challenging puzzles. The game’s most distinguishing aspect is that your choices make a lasting impact on how the story unfolds. Much of the fun comes from replaying episodes and making different choices to see how each story branch works out.

Life Is Strange was a breakout success for developer Dontond, and Square Enix quickly commissioned the series second installment. Although the Dontond didn’t participate in the game, Life Is Strange: Before Storm followed the formula established by its predecessor. The prequel was released in 2017 and is set three years to the events depicted in the original game and explores Chloe’s relationship with Amber before her disappearance.

Before the Storm was a success and set the stage for further excursions into the Life Is Strange universe. The franchise said goodbye to Max, Chloe, Rachel, and Arcadia Bay in favor of new characters and settings in sequels Life Is Strange 2 in 2018 and Life Is Strange: True Colors in 2021. The franchise shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

What’s Changed In Life Is Strange Remastered Collection?

In 2021, Square Enix announced that it would include remastered editions of the first two games in the ultimate edition of Life Is Strange: True Colors Ultimate Edition. After a delay due to complications related to the pandemic, Life Is Strange Remastered Collection dropped for both True Colors Ultimate players and as a stand-alone purchase on February 1st, 2022.

The remastered editions of Life Is Strange and Life Is Strange: Before the Storm feature revamped 4K-ready character models with upgraded motion-captured facial animations and an update to the Unreal Engine 4. The result is smoother, more detailed, and more expressive characters. The most noticeable differences include character hair, teeth, and clothing textures. Other prominent improvements include improved lip-syncing and an overhauled lighting scheme.

Everything else about the game remains the same, with no changes to controls, puzzles, choices, or storylines. And that’s to be expected since making alterations to the core game isn’t the point of a remaster.

Life Is Strange Remastered Collection Review

I first discovered Life Is Strange in 2018 when I was looking for a game that I could play through entirely in one online streaming session. I went in knowing almost nothing about the game on my first playthrough. And since the first episode of the original game was free, I figured that there was no risk to giving it a try. My impression after the first episode was that the series wasn’t for me.

However, the lingering questions raised in the first episode were enough for me to buy the complete game to see how everything worked out. Throughout the remaining four episodes, I fell in love with the characters, the town of Arcadia Bay, and the replayability of each episode. The game hooked me, and now I am a certified fan. I own and have played every subsequent prequel and sequel game in the series multiple times.

Max and Chloe hold hands while walking along rural railroad tracks.
Square Enix

As such, I was very excited about the release of Life Is Strange: True Colors in 2021. I even preordered the deluxe edition, which included Remastered Collection. I was initially skeptical of the remaster because the original game was only six years old at the time, and a remaster seemed premature. And the enhanced graphics in the trailer didn’t strike me as worthy of rebuying the game. But since I wanted the other bonus content that came with the preorder, I essentially got the remasters for free. Otherwise, I would not have bought it.

When Square Enix dropped Remastered Collection on February 1st, I immediately downloaded it, and I’ve now completed both remastered games. My main takeaway is that while the look of the game is undeniably improved, the impact of the enhancements on the experience of playing the game is nominal.

When I played through the first remastered episode of the original game, I had trouble identifying what had changed. I even brought in someone who had watched me play the first game. He said that the remaster looked the same as the original. It wasn’t until I pulled up the video archive of my first playthrough and compared both games side by side that I could see the extent of the improvements.

Throughout the rest of my playthrough, I ended up appreciating the more emotive characters, smoother models, enhanced textures, and more detailed settings. However, I did get bored for much of the game because it hasn’t been long enough for me to forget the game’s plot twists, puzzle solutions, and story branches. But that won’t be an issue for everyone.

My main issue with Life Is Strange Remastered Collection is that it feels a few years too early. The graphics of the original releases never felt inadequate to me. And I don’t play Life Is Strange for its graphics in the first place. In my opinion, Square Enix should have waited for the series’ 10th anniversary. Graphics technology would have improved even more, and the original game would be even more nostalgic.

Should You Buy Life Is Strange Remastered Collection?

The decision to buy this game depends on several factors, such as whether you’ve played the game before, how big of a fan you are, and how much extra cash you have to spend on video games.

If you’re a superfan of the series or just a completist, Life Is Strange Remastered Collection should definitely go on your wishlist. However, based on my experience with the game, you probably shouldn’t pay full price for it. Your original releases are fine as they are, and unless you absolutely can’t wait to see Chloe smile instead of scowl, it’s best to get it on sale sometime down the line.

For those who played the games years ago but don’t currently own them for one reason or another, it’s probably worth it to get the remastered editions. The combined cost for the original releases of Life Is Strange and Life Is Strange: Before the Storm is only about five dollars cheaper than the remastered editions. Plus, the Before the Storm remastered edition includes the premium bonus episode Farewell, which costs $10. So, you’ll end up paying less money for the whole experience of the first two games.

Life Is Strange Remastered Collection

Rediscover Arcadia Bay in the remastered editions of Life Is Strange and Life Is Strange: Before the Storm.

If you’ve never played Life Is Strange or Before the Storm, buying the remastered editions may be worth the money. It depends on how much you value the enhanced graphics. However, if you end up hating the first game, you’re stuck with both, and you’re out $40. Before you pay for anything, I recommend downloading the first episode of the original game for free to see if this is a series that you want devote dozens of hours of your life to playing.

Fans of the series that haven’t played Life Is Strange: True Colors are probably in the best position to buy the remastered editions. The ultimate edition of True Colors includes Remastered Collection. Plus a couple of extra goodies, including a bonus game and additional outfits for the main character, Alex. The regular edition of True Colors costs about $60, and the ultimate edition costs about $80. So, you’re essentially getting Remastered Collection at a 50% discount.

Life Is Strange: True Colors Ultimate Edition

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Danny Chadwick Danny Chadwick
Danny has been a technology journalist since 2008. He served as senior writer, as well as multimedia and home improvement editor at Top Ten Reviews until 2019. Since then, he has been a freelance contributor to Lifewire and ghostwriter for Fit Small Business. His work has also appeared on Laptop Mag, Tom’s Guide, and business.com. Read Full Bio »