LIFE IS STRANGE – Before the Storm [Ep. 1, Review]: Sweet Emotions.
When Life is Strange originally released back in 2005, it became a remarkable success. As a sorta Telltale-ish, episodic choose-your-own-adventure game, players followed the lives of Chloe and Max as they investigate the disappearance of Rachel Amber. The episodes covered a number of different controversial topics. And I’m not talking about just sex or violence; the game had topics considered to be a bit more “taboo”, such as depression, suicide, and anxiety. This was something I applauded LiS for — tackling areas that other developers may have hesitated going after
Before the Storm takes players back in time, 3-years prior to Max’s return to Arcadia Bay. This time players are able to play through the eyes of Chloe, as she explores her friendship with Rachel Amber. Starting Episode 1, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect; as you play through the original Life is Strange, you know Chloe’s fate and how it ends. The idea of a prequel definitely interested me, but I was concerned with how much character development could be shown. That said, where DONTNOD Entertainment started Chloe — a 16-year old wannabe punk rocker — left plenty of room for growth throughout the rest of the game. Still dealing with the recent passing of her father, Chloe is dealing with quite a mix of emotions.
The episode begins with Chloe attempting to sneak into a rock concert held in an abandoned mill. Before the Storm does not feature the original Life is Strange’s rewind feature, and instead has implemented “backtalk”. Chloe found herself having a hard time sneaking in, and so she was given the opportunity to backtalk the security guard to get inside. Thankfully the integration of this new challenge (alongside the timer) is rather great and revives the gameplay a bit.
Once inside, Chloe eventually crosses paths with Rachel Amber, and ditches the concert to spend the night with her. The rest of the episode focuses on how their relationship blossoms, as what started as a friendship led to something rather confusing for both Rachel and Chloe. I was drawn into their progressive complexion sprinkled throughout. Through its memorable dialogue and environmental interaction — be it stumbling across a postcard or asking to share headphones on a train — players are sure to fall back in love with the series, too.
Episode One ends with quite an emotional cliffhanger, and will leave players on the edge of their seats. It wouldn’t be Life is Strange if it didn’t leave you in emotional turmoil. Welcome back to Arcadia Bay. Chloe thanks ya.
Episode 1 = 4/5 Bibles.
Amanda will be back with a review of Episode 2 of Before the Storm, when it releases within the next couple months (Halloween?)!