After spending so many hours enjoying the original Life is Strange, the ending pissed me off to a point where I never wanted to have anything to do with the series at all. And then of course, they announced a sequel, and so far to both my pleasant surprise and regretful displeasure, I’m pleased to say it’s damn good so far.
What Is It?
Aside from being a prequel, Life is Strange: Before the Storm turns the tables and puts you in control of the troubled Chloe Price, before the blue hair, during the short time after Max Caulfield (her best friend and main character in the original game) moved to study in Seattle.
Life is Strange was largely about the friendship between Max and Chloe and how the act of simply being there for each other was the best thing for both their lives. Before the Storm takes a detailed look at Chloe’s life without Max there, the problems she’s facing at home, and her newfound friendship with Rachel Amber, who tragedy unfortunately struck with in the original game.
The first episode, Awake, does a great job at having that familiar feel but immediately separates itself from the original in more ways than one.
Why Should I Care?
As I said earlier, Life is Strange ended in a way that I absolutely hated. While I won’t go too much into why, because I still think the game is worth playing, my problems revolve around the fact that its ending sort of left you as the player in a lose-lose situation. The writers at Dontnod had a way they wanted it to end and stuck with it much like the way the writers of How I Met Your Mother wanted it to end (for the record, I loved HIMYM up until its ending also), and while I respect that, the “real” endings left much to be desired. The result, to me, made the game’s middle episodes a waste of time.
So when it comes to explaining why you should care about Before the Storm, it’s primarily because of two things that you should know right out of the gate. For one, it’s a prequel, and two: there’s no time travel here, so you don’t have to worry about playing God and still screwing up.
Of course, rewinding time was an essential feature that set Life is Strange apart from other episodic adventures, so how does it retain such a defining quality?
The truth is, at least for the first episode, there’s nothing that effectively replaces the rewinding feature. Because of this, the decisions you make feel more permanent, because there’s obviously no way to take back what you said or did. Even if you try to inject some of your own personality into Chloe, the fact that she’s the rebellious teenager she is usually results in some moments of regret taking place. She even creates graffiti in random places, which sort of replaces the random “trophy-popping” photographs that Max took in the original.
To compound on the difficulty when taking on her character, you also have the new “backtalk” ability that Chloe can use to get what she wants… with her words. There are multiple instances where backtalk becomes an option in conversation, but it was only required in the first part of the game that teaches you how to use it. The only other time I really considered the option was when I was witnessing some bullying happening to Nathan Prescott, the favorite son of the richest and most powerful family in Arcadia Bay. But because that guy was somebody I absolutely despised in the original game, I just let whatever happened to him happen, and I’m sure that’s how Chloe would’ve reacted anyway. You can even start backtalking during a game of Dungeons and Dragons.
Given that this prequel series is supposed to have three episodes, it comes as no surprise that this first episode clocks in on the long side at three hours, but once the episode is finished, the feelings you have make you realize that Chloe has come a long way, and despite her issues, there’s also a lot to discover for herself through her friendship with Rachel Amber.
To make things even better, aside from just comparing your end results in decisions and actions with other people that played the game, you can also go into Collection mode to uncover any of the graffiti options you missed for trophies and achievements, making the game an even easier platinum.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
The only people Life is Strange: Before the Storm will appeal to are those who enjoyed the original game, and while there don’t seem to be any supernatural abilities that sets this prequel apart, anybody interested in the character development of Chloe Price (which should be everybody who played it because Chloe is such a great character) should find that this game is worth the admission. The writing so far is every bit as corny as an independent film crossed with a CW drama is, and it’s this writing style that has made the series so endearing, so it’s hard to not be excited to see what new developer Deck Nine has store for the next couple episodes.