The first episode of Life is Strange: Before the Storm came out in late August 2017. There are 3 episodes in total plus a bonus episode which is included only in the Deluxe Edition. Since I enjoyed Life is strange so much, I was looking forward to this prequel. I was a little skeptical about playing as Chloe though. I loved Max as a character and felt ambivalent about Chloe. Her character seemed rude and annoying at times. But I went into this with an open mind and I must say it paid off.
This time Dontnod Entertainment was not involved in creating the game. They are currently working on Life is Strange 2, which is supposed to have a completely new story. They have also signed a publishing contract with Bandai Namco for a brand new story-driven game that we don’t know a lot about yet. I bet it is going to be great. I want story-driven games! Then in early 2018, Vampyr will be released.
But enough of that. Life is Strange: Before the Storm was created by Deck Nine. This American indie developer was founded over 20 years ago. Back then under a different name. Only with the creation and development of Before the Storm, they renamed themselves and started a new direction for the company:
„Meaningful storytelling and rich gameplay“.
The 3 episodes of Before the Storm have just that. A compelling story with deep characters and an entertaining gameplay.
You play as Chloe in the time when Max is still in Seattle. We get to know how painful the separation for Chloe was and how much she tried to stay in contact with Max. You learn that through diary entries which are updated throughout your gaming journey. I recommend doing that because it gives so much more insight into the character of Chloe. The episodes also introduce us to the mysterious character of Rachel Amber. A character we have only heard of in the original Life is Strange. The whole game is about the beginning of their friendship, the many obstacles they encounter and the painful experiences they make. But worry not, I won’t go too deep into the story, in case you haven’t played the game yet.
There are some new elements to the game. One being the Back Talk. In this, you have several clever options to say to some person and you are trying to convince them that you are right. You have to listen carefully to what your opponent says and answer accordingly. I failed one time throughout the first 2 episodes and several times in the third episode. I don’t know if I was less attentively while playing the last one. And to my knowledge, nothing serious happens if you fail the Back Talk. The other new element is the Graffiti option. That is a replacement for the photo mode of the original Life is Strange. Also new and very helpful for all you collectors out there is the collector’s mode which is activated once you finish an episode. You can replay sections of the game to try and find missed Graffiti options. Every Graffiti will get you a nice popping achievement.
One of the Highlights of this game was again the music. Maybe it was even a little better than in the first one, which is astounding in itself because the music was perfectly picked there. Throughout the game, I was in tears 2-3 times and I blame that on the music. The British band Daughter created a whole album for this game and they also recorded music for the original Life is Strange. Watch here to see the process of creating this beautiful Soundtrack.
It feels like Life is Strange is almost like watching a series. And yeah, of course, it’s published in episodes, but also the general feel of it is like watching a good series. Some of the decisions you have to make during the game are damn hard. Especially one in the last episode is super tough and I was thinking about it for a while. And although I am not a teenager anymore I could still relate to the problems and emotions of the characters. The story is really well written and each episode is a good length. I would say 1-2 hours per episode. If you bought or buy the deluxe edition you will have access to the bonus episode ‚Farewell‘ which will see Chloe and Max reunited. You will be able to play as Max for a final time. The episode will release soon, probably around the end of January.
And that’s it. I give Life is Strange: Before the Storm, a big Thumbs Up. Go and experience it yourself.