While Don’t Nod, the studio behind the original Life is Strange is hard at work on a sequel, a smaller studio, Deck Nine, have been working on a shorter, but no less ambitious, prequel to the series, called Life is Strange: Before The Storm. Set three years before the events of the first game, this is a standalone adventure that puts you in the shoes of Chloe, and tells her story, along with the enigmatic Rachel Amber, who was missing in the first game.
So Chloe is kind of a dick, and I hated that at the beginning. Gone was Max’s considered and likable demeanor, and when the game just started, I thought I was going to hate Chloe, and by extension, the game itself. But Chloe just didn’t let up, and kept being a dick. So I decided that I was going to make the dickiest choices possible. Viola! The game suddenly became really fun for me. I wanted to see Chloe get in trouble, simply because it felt like the right thing. I would make every decision that felt like the dumb thing to do – steal money, use it buy pot, smash a beer bottle on a dude’s face, and just backtalk at every opportunity possible. And now, after having finished the game, I am glad that Deck Nine gave such a contrary personality to Chloe when compared to Max, otherwise I would be here saying that Before The Storm is just more of the same.
That’s not to say that there aren’t more emotional and heartfelt moments to the game, because there are. Chloe’s personal side, and her relationship with those she cares about is shown and developed in a really convincing manner.
Returning to Arcadia Bay feels great, and looks great. I loved every minute I spent exploring all nooks, looking for graffitis to draw, and just soaking in the environment. Interacting with characters, both new and old was fun, and specially knowing where things would end up in the end, watching the story unfold is fascinating. The story is the main draw, and for the most part, it’s really good. Getting to know Rachel and her story, especially given how much she had been built up in the previous game, actually pays off and feels immensely satisfying.
The gameplay has been changed in a big way, and there’s no time-travel or rewind function. There are still quite a few puzzles that you need to piece together, some optional and others part of the main story, and they were mostly fun to engage with. There’s a new backtalk mechanism, that adds a bit more depth and weight to some of the conversations. It’s similar to ‘roasting’ someone, where you throw insults back and forth until someone comes out as a winner. You can look around you to find more details about the person you want to backtalk to, and use the newly acquired information to win arguments. There’s a timer that counts down, urging you to choose the best comeback as quickly as you can.
This is just the first episode of three, and I really enjoyed what I played of Before The Storm. There’s definite promise for upcoming episodes, and I would highly recommend any fan of the series to jump in and play the game now. You don’t need to have played the first game to enjoy Before The Storm, but it sure does give a lot more context. And even with the knowledge of what’s going to happen to the characters in the game, there’s still a compelling story here that’s worth seeing through so far. Just remember, Chloe is a dick.
Life Is Strange: Before The Storm - Awake
- Chloe Grows On You Eventually
- Good Story, Strong Characters
- Rachel & Chloe's Relationship Gives Meaningful Context That Was Previously Missing
- Backtalking Is Fun
- Tons Of Environmental Details
- Some Weak Dialogues