It has been a quick turnaround here for Life Is Strange: Before The Storm as it was first announced at E3 this year and now the first episode of the season has dropped on the PS4, Xbox One, and PC here on August 31st. For those who may have missed out on it so far, this is the prequel to the original episodic game that has Deck Nine Games telling the story of a different character that still has a huge impact on the whole story. I am talking Chloe Price here for Life Is Strange and the ever-missing Rachel Amber. We get to see here how that whole side of things started and progressed to where we all started. Here is how the team did with our review of the first episode.
Chloe Price is the rebellious girl we all knew and loved from Life Is Strange the first time around. Just a bit younger here and a little less traveled. Her home life is a mess. School is not much better. She also seems to be a social pariah of sorts, but thankfully Rachel Amber has taken a shining to her and asks her to embark on soul-searching adventure with her. How does it all go? Well that is up to us and our choices now…
More or less Life Is Strange: Before The Storm is an episodic, point-and-click adventure with a deep story. Most of the action and little extras for the game are revealed through searching around for items and reading little notes and scribbles throughout the game's world. Nothing to shocking as that seems the norm for these kinds of games. For this outing of Life Is Strange though, it seems like some of those mechanics, which worked so well before, were ignored here and did not seem to line up well. Maybe it was camera angle, maybe it was the hit box to display the overlay, but nonetheless it was hard at many points to get to the selection menu for anything in Before The Storm here. Too often where the options for the item obscured by Chloe and it would force me to have to move around way more than usual to be able to see all of my options.
My other major issue with this episode of Life Is Strange: Before The Storm is that there were so many superfluous dialog options and tree here. Maybe they will play some point later in the season, but there were quite a few times were one could find extra dialog options that seemed like they could be much more only to be throw away dialog that never even fleshed out a character more. These were dialog options that were also only available if you looked at a certain object and "read" into it. Sure, there were a few in there that actually led to something, but there were so many that gave the appearance of adding to the overall Life Is Strange experience only to leave you with a non-character building scene that you wish you could skip.
I was worried that Life Is Strange: Before The Storm was going to be harmed by Deck Nine Games removing the time travel aspect that the core game had. To me it was one of the selling points and made you think a bit more on the choices you made. It was replaced here, at least in my eyes, by Chloe's "Backtalk" system that would allow us to seeming control where the conversation went through a mini-game. In certain scenes, you are presented with a few options to sway the scene in one direction that you want by having a better argument or phrase than the NPC. Some required multiple choices and would have vastly different feeling outcomes. That is also saying that you chose better than the NPC. Either way it was a blast to try and figure out what could diffuse a scene or cause "massive damage" just by Chloe doing what she does best.
Another aspect that truly shined in this season of Life Is Strange had to be the music. It is one of the big selling points of the game so it better. I originally thought this was going to be a huge drag for myself given my particular tastes and them not generally lining up with what we have already heard for Life Is Strange. Before The Storm does follow along the same lines for sure, but I found myself more times than not wanting to listen to the entire song being played even when given the option to skip or "exit" out. Even the music that was supposed to be "shitty" was still fun to listen to and added to whole experience as each piece felt like it fit the story at the time. It may sound odd, but it was a huge plus in this outing and I cannot wait to hear more in future episodes.
Lastly, and this one is the big one, the story so far in Life Is Strange: Before The Storm is extremely compelling. It is about a "millennial" teenager and some of the early life development in the social world, but it is definitely presented in a great way that makes you care for each of the characters. Even the ones that you know go on to be dicks or horrible people in Life Is Strange later. Deck Nine Games has done a great job in capturing all of the elements of rebellion, angst, and love that we all went through or are going though. Even without the gameplay elements, this story would be compelling and interesting to watch unfold. Thankfully with Life Is Strange: Before The Storm we get to have our hand mixed in to help it all unfold and then figure out what other insanity is going on in Arcadia Bay.
I will be honest and say that Life Is Strange: Before The Storm is not going to be the cup of tea that everyone will enjoy. Those who enjoyed the original title will definitely be pleased with this outing. Anyone out there who enjoys a really good story that you can interact with in fun and new ways will also most likely enjoy this season, so far. If you are looking for a fast-paced supernatural thriller though, this will not be the game for you. At least if that is all you are into. I will say that no matter the spectrum, Life Is Strange is an amazing break from the traditional video game out there and you should give it a try. Outside of the few issues I had with the camera and a few dialog options, I had a blast with the whole experience and cannot wait for the next episode to drop.
I give Life Is Strange: Before The Storm — Awake 8 Bits Of Custom Graffiti on the Bits Of Custom Graffiti scale.
Life Is Strange: Before The Storm — Awake — Launch Trailer
Life Is Strange: Before The Storm — Awake was developed by Deck Nine Games. Life Is Strange: Before The Storm — Awake was published by Square Enix for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC on August 31st 2017. A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes.