REVIEW: Life is Strange Before the Storm - PS4
Updated: Aug 22
3 Episodes for the price of 1
I was in two minds whether to write this review just yet. For those of you who bought the deluxe version of Before the Storm, our journey isn’t quite over yet. An extra episode titled ‘Farewell’ is set to release early 2018 and will act as a prequel to the prequel! Set before the events of Before the Storm, ‘Farewell’ will allow players to play as Max once again and show her friendship with Chloe before Max moves away as mentioned in the original Life is Strange game. The most exciting part? Hannah Telle and Ashly Burch will be returning for this episode only to play Max and Chloe respectively. So basically, my idea was to review the entire deluxe version of Before the Storm once the extra episode was released however I’ve decided to just review episode 1-3 and perhaps come back to ‘Farewell’ later. Now let’s get into it!
THIS IS YOUR SPOILER WARNING
Last Night marked the end of another Life is Strange game, a journey which started in August and ended in December comprised of only 3 episodes. Now I know that this is a spin off game as well as a prequel, so I knew that it probably wouldn’t contain too much new information regarding the citizens of Arcadia Bay as it would have to link up to the original Life is Strange game. However, I have to say I was a little underwhelmed by my experience playing Before the Storm, don’t get me wrong it’s a new Life is Strange game so of course I’m pleased, it just felt as if the entire thing was a little bland at times, especially in the final episode. Let me explain.
In episode 1 we are re-introduced to Arcadia Bay and Chloe, we’re taught new game mechanics and shown how Before the Storm is different to Life is Strange; photo collectibles are now graffiti achievements, you can’t rewind time, etc. We also find out how Chloe met Rachel. It’s a good introduction to the game.
In episode 2 the story continues, we find out how Chloe got expelled from Blackwell Academy, how she obtained her much loved pick up truck and we watch her grow closer with Rachel. My favourite section of this episode is The Tempest show; Chloe goes to see Blackwell Academy’s performance of The Tempest to support Rachel. Whilst there Chloe ends up saving the show by reluctantly stepping in to perform Juliet’s role who is stuck in traffic. During this part of the game the player must make decisions of what they think the next line in the play is whilst on stage in front of a large audience, which if you went into this part blindly like I did can cause mix reactions from the audience. Episode 2 ends on a cliff hanger with Rachel finding out that the mother she has grown up with isn’t really her birth mother. My problem with this is, how sudden the drama takes place – we’ve had 2 episodes of your usual small town, teenage drama and suddenly we’re faced with a big plot twist, a small part of it felt a little out of place to me.
To me, episode 3 was pure drama. Iit was incident after incident that almost made it feel like a soap opera that’s trying too hard. In episode 3 we find out the history of Rachel’s birth mother how she was a drug addict, so Rachel’s father decided to take full custody of Rachel and cut her mother out of the picture. After the usual mundane investigation that you find in these kind of games, Rachel and Chloe are confronted with Damon and Frank during an attempt to track down Rachel’s birth mother which ultimately results in Rachel getting stabbed and Chloe having to rush her to the hospital not even 24 hours after initially finding out that Rachel’s mother isn’t her real mother. In hospital it is here that we see Rachel’s manipulative side as she asks Chloe to break into her father’s security protected home office to find out information on her birth mother to help them track her down. During this time Chloe finds out that Rachel’s father’s story wasn’t entirely true and that he is going to extreme lengths to keep Rachel from meeting her true mother and is even working with Damon to do so. Whilst in the office Eliot (a guy we speak to briefly in the first episode? And we had forgotten about by now) shows up and starts acting aggressive towards Chloe to which Chloe attempts to call the police discreetly. Due to Chloe’s meddling and snooping in Rachel’s father’s office, Chloe ends up at a dodgy abandoned mill where Rachel’s birth mother is tied up and attacked by Damon who was hired by Rachel’s father. Chloe is also attacked and when she wakes up, she’s alone with Rachel’s birth mother who is totally fine now, untied just sitting at a table having a chat with Chloe (which is never explained by the way). She then persuades Chloe to not tell Rachel that 1) she has met her mother and 2) that her father is responsible for the situation, it is then your big decision at the end of the game whether or not to tell Rachel the truth - who at this point is still in hospital.
It just seemed to me that they packed an awful lot into the final episode especially considering that Rachel and Chloe only met around 2-3 days before the end of the game. This is probably due to the game only being 3 episodes in length. I could be wrong, but it felt as if there was a lot more talking between the characters and less action than the previous game, I found myself almost bored at parts from just watching and not doing. I’d like to also mention how Chloe didn’t seem like Chloe and I know that it couldn’t be helped that Ashly Burch was replaced by Rhianna DeVries (who was pretty good at matching Burch vocally, by the way) due to the SAG-AFTRA strikes however she just didn’t feel as passionate as Chloe in Life is Strange. To me, she just felt more moody and rude than feisty and emotional like in the previous game. I thought she lacked a sense of urgency in her character. Perhaps she develops this personality from Rachel? Lastly, I’d like to mention how I wasn’t a fan of Chloe’s dreams/flashbacks/imagination creations of her father, I understand it was to show how Chloe is not over the death of her father however the dreams just came across creepy to me. I feel that her grief could have been shown in other ways and that the scenes with her dad were kind of used as filler.
To round up: I am so pleased that Life is Strange got another instalment, I love that I’ve been able to experience that feeling again of excitedly waiting for the next episode to release and trying to link up the new information to the previous game. I think Deck Nine did a good job at keeping the continuity even with the issues they had with re-casting certain characters, etc. The game had a great soundtrack composed by indie-folk band Daughter and did a great job at helping fans explore Rachel Amber’s character who had previously just been a photo on a missing poster. I just wish I had as much of an emotional connection with Before the Storm as I did Life is Strange, I wish there was more of a high risk final decision to make like in the previous instalment (a decision which caused me to stop and assess for a good few minutes before deciding) as the ending was a little underwhelming. Overall, I did enjoy the game. I can’t wait to be able to reunite with Max and Chloe in the bonus episode ‘Farewell’ and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the Life is Strange franchise. Hey! Maybe Max can come back in time to tell us?
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