***Warning***Below, you may find some spoilers with respect to the original Life is Strange game.
One of the most talked about single player narratives in 2015 came in the form of the choose your own adventure, Life is Strange. A game that put the player in the role of Max a girl who came back to the town of Arcadia Bay and reconnected with her childhood friend, the rebellious and smart mouthed Chloe. Max soon learns that she can control time and makes a series of decisions on her path to find out what happened to the mysterious Rachel Amber, a girl that Chloe had a very close relationship with.
Fans of the original will recall that the original ended with players making a very very difficult and heart wrenching decision leaving many with questions yet to be answered. It’s a little surprising that instead of a direct sequel, Life is Strange: Before the Storm is a prequel to the events of the first game before Max came back to town and Rachel Amber disappeared. Admittedly I was a little bummed out about this because even I’d like some of those questions answered but learning about the relationship between Chloe and Rachel is something I would enjoy diving into.
During Before the Storm, we get a better glimpse into what shaped the Chloe we know and love in Life is Strange. He insecurities about who she is. We get to experience her resentment towards mother and new boyfriend (soon-to-be step father), her fear and sadness over losing her best friend Max who recently moved away and correspondences are becoming less frequent. Feelings of isolation and confusion in her sexuality are stirring and we get to bear witness(play a part) to sowing the seeds which bring Chloe to the rebellious and closed off person she is when we meet her in the first game.
The gameplay isn’t too dissimilar to Life is Strange. Walk around areas, talk to people and in general interacting with people in Chloe’s life helps drive the narrative forward. Unlike the original game, Chloe doesn’t have any special supernatural powers like Max. Instead of rewinding big moments, Chloe gets has a serious “Backtalk” game. Basically the Backtalk system is simple as a smart mouth, she talks back to people. During the course of a conversation, the person Chloe is Backtalking with drops hints and it’s the players job to pick these hints out and come back with a snarky retort within a time limit to shut them down. Personally I found the backtalk system to be incredibly entertaining cracking up on occasion. The simple fact that if you pick the wrong answer or don’t get the desired result, you can’t rewind and try again is refreshing – it gives each response a proper sense of importance.
Despite using the same graphics engine as Life is Strange, Before the Storm looks, feels and performs much cleaner than it’s predecessor.
Having the opportunity to meet and understand who Rachel Amber is. She’s a well to do beautiful and popular young lady with the whole world in front of her but there’s a darkness within Rachel as well. One that will ultimately as we know, take her to darker places and ultimately result in her demise. Interestingly the original dev, DONTNOD, did not make this game allowing for DeckNine to take the stake. I have to say that the team over at DeckNine did a wonderful job stepping into the role and delivered a great experience.This is a story and adventure I’m really excited to continue. If you’ve had a chance to play Life is Strange and enjoyed your time – You need to buy this. If you haven’t, this is still a good buy for you but you’ll want to jump right into the original as soon as you finish the 3rd episode.
The first of three episodes was released on 31 August 2017 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.