Life is Strange: Before the Storm Review

Life is Strange: Before the Storm is the prequel to Life is Strange, and focuses on Chloe Price and how she became close with Rachel Amber. Unlike the original game that had five chapters and time powers, this one only has three and opportunities to argue or intimidate your way through situations. Along with leaving graffiti around Arcadia Bay instead of taking photographs.

Rachel and Chloe Concert

Since you are playing the game as Chloe Price rather than Max Caulfield, in the events prior to Life is Strange. It seemed liked you wouldn’t have the freedom to shape her character or go more in depth since we already know where the story is headed. No spoilers on what happens to any of the characters. This game takes place three years before the events of Life is Strange and around the time Max left for Seattle and the two lost contact.

As mentioned there is an ability you get as Chloe Price called Backtalk. Which is sort of like a verbal Tug O’ War. However, unlike the rewind power that you needed heavily in Life is Strange, you do not have to do these but they do open up new dialogue avenues with resulting consequences. Some are easier than others but all must be done during a very short time frame so you can’t sit there are debate on each option. You must choose quickly but give the wrong answer and you might fail. Responses must be given in a very short time frame, piling on the pressure in an already tense stand-off. Backtalk is a very Chloe way of dealing with the world around you, and although it doesn’t always flow in a way that feels natural, it’s a shame that it is used less frequently as Before the Storm moves towards its conclusion.

In this game, you also are introduced to Rachel Amber for the first time as she’s not missing yet. And meeting her did not spoil anything as I feared it would since she was so much of just a rumor in the first game. Rachel is as you would expect, the honor student who knows how to play a crowd. But at the same time she just have her own flaws and unknowable at the same time hidden behind her walls. Plus the chemistry between Chloe and Ravel is immediate and electrifying. Knowing their relationship really just adds that depth to Life is Strange, plus after the first episode you can see how some things became the way they were and just how important they truly are to Chloe. It changes not only how you see them, but how you interpret different events of the original game and, surprisingly, how you feel about Max by extension.

Rachel and Chloe TrainAs you can just see how much Max’s departure truly effected Chloe. And the decisions you make as Chloe in Before the Storm are more like everyday decisions just to get through the day. Made out of spite or love, and asks you look into yourself: are the lies we tell ourselves any better or worse than the lies we tell other people? It reminds us, again and again, that nothing and no-one is ever just black and white. A bully can have the best interests of those who can’t help themselves at heart. A parent can do unthinkable things to preserve their child’s innocence for just that little bit longer. You can criticize someone for hiding a painful truth, but turn around and do the exact same thing simply to keep a smile on the face of someone you love. Which I absolutely loved while playing the game.

The dialogue of Before the Storm is heartfelt and earnest. It’s easy to mock anyone who puts themselves out there, but that’s ’cause often we aren’t honest with ourselves. We hide behind walls and wish someone would help but if someone tries we push them away. And Before the Storm shows that exact feeling. Yes, you may not know the answers but you try to offer up any advice you possibly can. Before the Storm portrays the beauty and wonder, as well as the danger and difficulty of loving others in a real, raw and intelligent way, setting the bar for other games like it to follow.

Tempest Life is StrangeThe truth can be hard to look at, is it really something you’re ready for? Maybe the lies we tell each other are less horrible than the truths we keep hidden? And Before the Storm perfectly paints that picture through Chloe Price and Rachel Amber.However, it is a shame that Rachel and Chloe spend a large part of the final episode apart. The game could’ve used one more episode to flesh out the final few acts and avoid some confusion. As well as wrap up a few plot holes and inconsistencies that came with the rushed resolution. But it’s still amazing what they were able to accomplish in just three episodes. Plus there were plenty of nods of Life is Strange. And Before the Storm never felt like a filler or like we were treading water until the main events get underway. It also looks and sounds beautiful, carrying on the somewhat dreamlike, sun-drenched visual quality of Life is Strange and punctuating moments of calm with wistful and delicate indie rock, adding texture and a distinctive rhythm to a world already dancing to the beat of its own drum.Chloe PriceThe story might have been more mundane, but it was needed. Plus it made Before the Storm feel more relatable, meaningful, painful, and beautiful in it’s own right. It’s not a game about a girl with some magical power. It’s about two people coming together at the right moment in a time in each of their lives when they needed someone the most. For Chloe, that’s someone to help her after the passing of her dad. And Rachel, it’s someone to help her through her father’s affair. It’s about capturing those moments, big and small, that change who we are as people. Every player will bring their own experiences and prejudices to each situation, conversation and confrontation within Before the Storm, and what you answer may tell you as much about yourself as it does Rachel and Chloe. Before the Storm does what every worthwhile prequel should – it tells its own story and connects to what came before in a way that enhances both experiences for the better.

I hope they come out with a third game though I bet that would be hard considering the ending of Life is Strange is very one way or another.

Chloe and Rachel KissLove ya,

Mae Polzine

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