The Life Is Strange franchise is a collection of works, primarily video games, that all take place in the same shared universe. The games have been made by DONTNOD Entertainment and Deck Nine, and all of them have been published by Square Enix.
The first game, Life Is Strange, was released to critical and commercial success in 2015, kickstarting a new IP for SquareEnix. While complimentary to Telltale's revival efforts of the early-to-mid 2010's, Life Is Strange had a different direction and thematic focus, and contrasted well as another direction to take the narrative adventure genre. It was DONTNOD's breakout hit after the underwhelming Remember Me, which was noted as having good ideas but poor execution.
In a similar way, the 2017 prequel Before The Storm established Deck Nine Games after their rebranding and company shift, and both studios partnered with Square Enix on future projects, LIS-related or otherwise.
As for what makes a Life Is Strange game, Director Michel Koch described one as having "a set of relatable characters, facing real-life issues in a world which is as close as possible to the real world just with a twist of some supernatural elements that we can use to emphasise some story aspects, like with the rewind it was to emphasise Max's inability to make decisions and inability to go forward with her life."
These overarching themes and ideas have been present in all entries to the franchise. The games themselves are narrative adventure games that tend to feature ordinary people who are thrust into unusual but realistic situations in a world very much like our own, set up to make choices that will deeply affect the world and people around them. A touch of the supernatural is also present, in the form of an unusual power possessed by one of the main characters.
Other recurring elements include Queer Romance, a gorgeous hand-painted art style, a focus on teenagers as the protagonists, two central leads that share some kind of relationship, animal motifs, a majority-indie soundtrack, deep and complex characterization, extremely difficult choices, and the Hawt Dawg Man mascot.
Official works in this franchise:
- Life Is Strange, released in 2015. It's about a young girl named Max Caulfield who discovers can rewind time when saving her former best friend, Chloe Price.
- Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, released in 2017. It's about Chloe Price and Rachel Amber and is set three years before the first game. Also has the Farewell bonus episode, starring young Max and Chloe.
- The Life Is Strange comic series, released in 2018. It's about Max and Chloe after one of the two possible endings in the first game.
- The announced-but-not-yet-made Life Is Strange live action digital series, by Legendary Pictures. They've been pretty quiet about it since the 2016 announcement.
- Life Is Strange 2, released in 2018. It's about Sean and Daniel Diaz, two brothers trying to run to Mexico after a tragic accident.
- The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, released in 2018. It's about Chris Eriksen and his father Charles on a Saturday morning, and it serves as a tie-in game to Life Is Strange 2.
Unofficial but notable works in this franchise:
- Love Is Strange, a visual novel made by Team Rumblebee that jettisons all the sci-fi and tragic elements to focus purely on the Queer Romance aspects.