24th May2019

‘Life is Strange Vol.1: Dust’ Graphic Novel Review

by Xenia Grounds

Written by Emma Vieceli | Art by Claudia Leonardi | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 112pp

WARNING: This review will contain huge spoilers for one of the endings of the first Life is Strange. If you have any interest in playing it and don’t want to know what can happen in the finale then this is your official warning to read my review another time.

life_is_strange_vol1_cover

I’ve mentioned it previously, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original Life is Strange. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good game and I recommend it if you like story-based games, but it has flaws that were hard to overlook. That said, there’s no denying that was a charm to the story which this graphic novel hopes to recapture. Does it succeed?

Dust takes place after the events of Life is Strange. In this timeline, Max and Chloe are living in Seattle after Max chose to sacrifice their hometown, Arcadia Bay, to save Chloe’s life. They’ve settled in Seattle and have built a life for themselves with a group of friends. However, much like the title suggests, strange things start to happen. Max starts losing control over her time travel powers and starts shifting through timelines at the drop of a hat for no apparent reason. To solve this mystery, Max and Chloe decide that the best course of action is to go back to Arcadia Bay.

This is a story that assumes you have played the game prior to reading it. There isn’t exposition on who people are like Dana or Warren when Max suddenly enters another reality. You’ll get the gist that they somehow know Max and Chloe but that’s all you’ll be able to assume which will take away some of the impact that those scenes should have because you don’t know their characters and backstories. That said, some scenes are emotional even without the context. For example, seeing Chloe’s Mum (Joyce) in an alternate timeline where the Chloe with Max can’t interact with her is truly heartbreaking. As made clear from the start, everyone in Arcadia Bay is dead in the reality that this story starts in and Chloe’s relationship with Joyce has definitely had much tragedy and drama but Chloe never really got to say goodbye to her mother when she died or that she loved her. As you can imagine, seeing her mother alive but not getting to talk to her is horrific and it’ll hard to get through it without wanting to shed a tear.

There are new characters introduced in these four issues but honestly, they aren’t too memorable and don’t serve much purpose other than to establish the life that Chloe and Max have built for themselves while living in Seattle. They’re not very memorable and you tend to want the story to go back to Max and Chloe when they get a page or two to themselves. That could potentially change in future issues but they just come across as minor characters.

The writing for Dust is incredibly true to the spirit of the game. While I was reading it, I could’ve sworn I heard Max and Chloe’s voices saying those words and the relationship between them is as intricate and touching as it should be. Their relationship has evolved and they’ve always had a ‘them against the world’ vibe but in the case of this story, they’re also challenging time itself. The story in Dust escalates as Max keeps jumping from one reality to another. Sometimes the changes are very minor and in other instances, very major, like seeing people who should be dead. It ties back into Chaos Theory which dominated the first game. In layman’s terms, however you alter time (big or small), it can have drastic consequences and now the consequences are catching up with Max herself in even worse ways than the game explored. It even has a very ominous ending where everything seems like all will be well until you see the last thing at the bottom of Issue 4: ‘This action will have consequences’ which is a nod to the game and serves to pull the rug out from under you in a classic Life is Strange manner.

The artwork for Dust is sophisticated. In the case of the graphic novel, it’s considerably distinctive and expressive with the characters and you can tell what each character is feeling from their expression instead of them having to saying it. The creators deserve a lot of credit for the effort that they put into this because you can tell it’s been drawn by people who passionately care about creating great art.

Overall, if you are a fan of Max and Chloe and want to see more of their story then this will be perfect for you. It gives you exactly what you expect to see. Heartfelt writing with twists and turns that will leave you yearning for more.

Life is Strange Vol.1: Dust is out now from Titan Comics. Order yours here.

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