Life Is Strange: Before The Storm
Game review on
Callum Corcut / Tue 21st Nov 2017
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OVERVIEW "There is no home. Not if he's there." We hit the ground running in episode two with Chloe's home life completely self-destructing. The relationships established in the seasons strong opener are further developed and there are some exceptionally difficult choices put in front of the player. Before The Storm is really coming into its own with not only the strongest episode of the season, but also one of the strongest episodes in the entire Life Is Strange series.
The wrath of Blackwell Academy has come down hard on Chloe Price. The episode begins with the expulsion of Chloe from the prestigious school. Even though we know this is an unavoidable eventuality due to the events of Life Is Strange, it doesn't change the fact at how well the scene is crafted. The player has a choice, does she take the blame or does she let Rachel Amber take the fall?
These morally grey choices are rampant throughout the whole episode and you will be confronted with some pretty daunting options. In this episode we really see Chloe and Rachel's relationship grow organically, in some of the most powerful scenes I have seen in a long time. Chloe is also gaining notoriety due to her association with her drug dealer, Frank.
This episode shows the greatest, genuine character growth we have ever seen for Chloe. If you are invested in her story then several scenes in this episode will emotionally resonate with you. There is a reason she despises David in LIS, there is a reason why she is so devastated when Rachel Amber goes missing. This episode shows us why, and it is done masterfully.
The gameplay is once again fairly strong. There is a healthy balance of hard decisions and simple puzzle activities. There is nothing tedious such as the infamous bottle segment in the first season, the developers have clearly responded to the criticisms aimed at its predecessor.
Instead there is a wondrous segment in the junkyard where we simply get to customise Chloe's car with different items. Giving the player the opportunity to express Chloe's personality through cosmetic decorations was a great gameplay choice. This environmental storytelling is part of the reason why the entire episode remains engaging throughout.
Some of the imagery in this episode is truly breathtaking. Cinematic quality to be sure. The opening segment in the bathroom features no dialogue whatsoever, yet it is one of the most visually important scenes of the season. Chloe's graffiti is also really starting to convey insight into her character, whether it be a poorly drawn joint on a school wall or a regretful journal entry meant for Max.
This game feels like there is so much thought put into the smaller details. Details that could easily be glossed over or missed. These small touches are what make a video game feel real, not only for the character we are playing as, but also as players.
AUDIO Daughter once again knock it out of the park. I look forward to every new song I hear in each episode because I know that they will be expertly implemented at just the right moment. Some scenes don't even need dialogue because the soundtrack itself can carry scenes towards their climax. I understand that putting indie rock music into a video game can be very difficult but Before The Storm makes it seem seamless.
VERDICT This is possibly the greatest episode ever released for Life Is Strange and that in itself is an amazing feat. Chloe's story is definitely one worth telling. I had some reservations when I initially heard that Life Is Strange was releasing a prequel. What more could be said? It was a complete package. Well I had no idea what Deck Nine had coming for me. This is episodic gaming done right, one where I am feverishly waiting for the next release. There are only three full length episode's for Before The Storm, but sometimes quality truly does trump quantity.