Fox is currently adapting, or attempting to adapt, Life if Strange for television. This is a bizarre and pointless development. Life is Strange has spawned an ever growing circle of works since its initial popularity, but they are of varying quality. Between the sequel, prequel, and Captain Spirit, there’s no shortage of content at the moment. A Life is Strange TV show just is not necessary.
A TV adaptation will probably be a long time in the works. It does seem like an easy premise too, cast of teenagers, each pretty relatable, facing their own problems. It’s already episodic, then there is plenty of twists in a murder mystery, and even superpowers. It reads like a checklist for teen drama. More than being unnecessary, it just won’t work.
You can picture how the show will end up. It could easily be a teen drama, following many attendant of Blackwell Academy as they try to track down and solve the mystery of a serial killer in town in the vein of Riverdale. They might even subvert the game and have the murderer be someone other than Jefferson. Although given the amount of creative thought that usually goes into video game adaptations probably not. It seems like an easy win. The reaction to the recent Life is Strange 2 trailer has shown that fans quite often just want more of the same, rather than anything new.
Adaptation Is Not a Reward
Life is Strange was critically acclaimed for elevating episodic storytelling. It drew it’s inspiration from classic movies, TV, and novels. The game showed it’s influence and it’s working. A fresh spin and a female perspective on a Donnie Darko style coming of age story. Life if Strange marks a maturing of this sort of storytelling in games. It’s one of the titles that proves the genre has grown up and it’s narratives need to be taken seriously. Using it’s quality as a reason to put it on television is a rejection of the maturity of the genre. It’s an insult to the idea that games can stand alone as story telling.
There is nothing to be gained artistically from adapting this game into a television show. Eliminating the gameplay elements of Life is Strange would do very little to actually change the experience. You can have a good experience from watching somebody play the title as much as playing yourself. Eliminating sections of wandering around and checking out environments will make it more plot focused, but it’ll also remove most of the depth that players enjoyed.
Episodic TV Is Not the Same as Episodic Games
Far from enriching the story of the game, placing it on television will only take away from what made it work. Narrative based games work best as games, that’s why they are games. They don’t need to be anything else to be bet
ter. Games are capable of telling compelling stories and standing alone as dramatic works.
Being adapted into TV or film is not a reward for a piece of great cultural output, but it is often treated this way. An adaptation of a comic book, game, or novel is not the final prize for being good enough to make it to Film or TV. This is wrong, some things work better in their original format. A Life is Strange TVadaptation is unnecessary, because it’s one of them. The continual obsession with ‘elevating’ story based games to different mediums undersells their impact as games.