02nd Apr2021

‘Life is Strange Vol. 4: Partners In Time – Tracks’ Review

by Xenia Grounds

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

With Life is Strange: True Colors now announced and the remaster of the first Life is Strange also coming out alongside it, it makes sense to revisit the three characters who stole the hearts of so many fans with a review of the new comic.

Now we left off with Max in an alternate timeline where Rachel is alive and happily living a good life with Chloe which caused a lot of internal struggle for Max who is dating Chloe in her own timeline but the Chloe in this new timeline is completely in love with Rachel. While adjusting to this new life, Max encounters Tristan who slips in and out of different realities much like Max can. The struggle to get back to the correct reality due to their unstable powers ends up with both of them stranded and separated. Max is left with Rachel and Chloe while Tristan meets Chloe in the timeline Max is trying to return to.

This volume sees Rachel, Chloe and Max on a road trip trying to find a way to restore Max to her own time while Tristan works with Max’s Chloe to bring Max back as well. Each may be in different worlds but they share the same goal and if this volume is anything to go by, it won’t be an easy goal to achieve as their powers seem to be causing more problems than they solve.

The writing for this comic hasn’t always been perfect. When it comes to the characters of Max and Chloe, it excels. I can vividly imagine Ashly Burch and Hannah Telle saying these lines in a Life is Strange game. However, it can be a little clunky every now and then as we’ve seen in Volume 2 which felt more like fanfiction and Tristan was introduced more as a plot device than a character. Volume 3 got things back on track with a stronger climax and cliffhanger which just demands for you to continue the story.

With Volume 4, it explores the lengths Max and Chloe are willing to go to reunite with each other which is nothing new given what they’ve already sacrificed to be together but once again, they need a reality check of the consequences of playing with time. Max starts playing hero with her power but her eagerness to do that ends up costing her more because she doesn’t think things through. Chloe is basically relying on Tristan who is enjoying being visible to other people again but his powers are in a state of flux so he clearly fears going back to being a ghost now that he has genuine ways of connecting with people. While Chloe doesn’t see Tristan as a means to an end to finding Max, she also wants her girlfriend back so it’s a delicate balance between being a friend to Tristan while not forgetting she needs him in order to bring Max back.

The art definitely continues to play with colours in this issue. Since the road trip dominates this setting of this part of the story, there are a variety of locations and looks for the characters to play with from deserts, diners, canyons, stormy nights and dressing up as cowboys or as pirates. The pencil work is great at capturing those nuanced emotions on the characters faces whether they’re experiencing heartwarming joy or heartbreaking sadness.

The final pages offer a cliffhanger in the form of Max and Tristan being back at square one although there’s a little glimmer of hope at the very end and we’ll see what the next volume does with. This is a brief tangent but as I’ve stated multiple times, I’m a massive fan of Life is Strange 2 so I very much loved the surprise appearance of a character from that season as small as it was. That’s also not the only return of a familiar face in this volume but I’d rather not spoil the surprise.

Overall, this new instalment in the adventure is more about character exploration than plot progression but what it explores is gripping because it’s just about two people trying to find their way back to each other. It’s not a straightforward path but it’s one that promises more twists, turns and crossroads before we get close to the end destination.

Life is Strange Vol. 4: Partners In Time – Tracks is released on April 13th, courtesy of Titan Comics. Pre-order you copy on Amazon now.

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