Life Is Strange: Before The Storm
Game review on
Callum Corcut / Tue 21st Nov 2017
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OVERVIEW Life Is Strange was one of the most popular and critically acclaimed titles of 2015. Two years later and we have a prequel featuring fan favourite Chloe Price as the protagonist. Before The Storm does everything a good prequel needs to do. It strengthens the original series by tenfold while still continuing to be an amazing adventure in its own right. There is no other game that captures the struggle of adolescence quite like this series does. Fans of both LIS and outstanding storytelling can rejoice, for Before The Storm is one of the best single player experiences of 2017.
The game takes place in that iconic little town known as Arcadia Bay. It's set a few years before the original season, in BTS, Chloe is sixteen years old and struggling to cope with the recent loss of her father. Her hair isn't dyed blue yet but we are witnessing first hand the birth of the rebellious spirit that many gamer's came to love.
The plot of the episode primarily focuses on Chloe's troubles at school and at home. Her soon to be step father David has come in to the picture and he is trying to set straight the tameless Chloe Price. It is here where we take control of Chloe, sneaking out to go see a punk rock show, indulging in cannabis usage and being generally directionless. Chloe is so unhappy and Deck Nine manage to convey her emotional destruction with so much more clarity than in the original season. We finally start to understand why she is the way she is. Max left her. Her father died. She is failing school and has no friends left.
That is, until we meet the famous character known as Rachel Amber. We never saw her in the first season so this is her official introduction into LIS, and boy, do they nail her character. This first episode perfectly encapsulates what is wrong in Chloe's life while also introducing the person that we know will have a lasting impact on her. There are emotional moments that hit players where it hurts, but there are also calmer moments. Moments where we can breathe in the world and give Chloe momentarily relief, a tranquil moment amidst the storm.
The gameplay hasn't really changed at all in the last two years. It is still centered on delicately written dialogue and walking from place to place. There isn't much innovation with gameplay but there doesn't really need to be, the reason we love LIS is for its conversations and its plot.
The major addition however, is Chloe's back talk ability. She doesn't possess the supernatural prowess of time like Max Caulfield, but she does have a quick wit. The game will have segments where Chloe will be able to talk down other characters to achieve what she wants. This plays out in quick time events where she has to select the right insult based on the response she received from the other person. It works well and stays true to the nature of her character.
GRAPHICS Life Is Strange has a very particular art direction and Before The Storm adheres to it perfectly. It's basically the same as it was in 2015 just with clearer resolution. It's not going to knock your socks off but it feels homely. Not to mention there are absolutely no lip syncing issues this time around and I found no technical bugs in my playthrough.
The soundtrack to this game is phenomenal. Possibly the strongest aspect of the title besides its story. The indie folk band Daughter, act as the composers of the game, providing original music throughout.
Each impactful scene is complimented by appropriate indie music that drives home the point. From beginning to end the music provides just as much contextual storytelling as the environment itself does. This soundtrack easily surpasses the original season. Bravo Deck Nine and bravo Daughter.
VERDICT It is so rare to find an excellent prequel in any form of media. Star Wars, Alien, so on and so forth. They couldn't get it right, but Deck Nine could. The first episode of Before The Storm is one of the most touching video game experiences I've had since the original LIS. I implore anyone who enjoys poignant single player stories to check this one out. A great starting point for newcomers and an absolute delight for series fanatics. Hopefully the rest of the season can reach the heights of this marvelous introduction.