Life is Strange: Before the Storm

“Sometimes when you meet someone who’s going to change your life, you just know it, I guess…”

Most of us remember our teen years (if we aren’t still in the midst of them) as a time of drama and angst and, well, often some less than desirable events. But the one thing we know coming out the other side is that there is an end to it, there is hope, and those problems seem so unimportant once you’re beyond them.

This is a truth that is still very far away for school rebel, Chloe Price.

When Deck Nine brought us Life is Strange they threw us into the world of shy and awkward Max- a girl brought back to her home town and trying to pick up the pieces of the friendships she once had. She discovers that her actions have consequences, and very strong ones- at times even fatal. So when she finds out she can augment time and retract those actions it’s a power she’s unsure if she really wants.

But the friendship that meant the most to Max was that of Chloe Price, her childhood best friend. Things are not good for Chloe after the loss of her father and life steadily went downwards for her in Max’s absence. All Max really learns is that Chloe found a bond in the school’s once popular and talented student, Rachel Amber.

Before the Storm is a rewind to the events that transpired in Max’s absence and a deeper insight into Chloe’s life in that time. We get to see the fallout from Chloe’s dad’s passing, the tensions between Chloe and her mother’s new man, and the powerful reality of Rachel Amber’s presence in Chloe’s life. But importantly this story doesn’t end where the first began…

If this is all sounding like a day time drama, bear with me. Because Life is Strange: Before the Storm has a bigger story to tell than a teen soapy.

Based on the same choice/consequence system as its predecessor, Before the Storm will make you think carefully about the choices you make. Effects of your decisions vary from immediate to very long lasting, and often unknown until much further into the story. But unlike Max, Chloe does not possess the ability to augment time. Instead she has to rely completely on her wits and sharp tongue to get her through- she’s on her own, as Chloe would see it.

Chloe’s tough as nuts attitude and IDGAF demeanour are everything to her and will have her evading as well as creating problems. At times the dialogue options will offer you a Challenge- choose the right sequence of dialogue and you win the battle and secure your objective, but fail and you’ll be backtracking for other solutions.

The controls of the Life is Strange series are simple, and for good reason, because it’s the story and artwork of every scene that will demand your full attention. And it is beautiful… I mean, who makes a rubbish tip look this good?!

Precise and perfect use of lighting, colour and texture create a varied and enchanting backdrop while remaining unobtrusive. Mini-cut scenes can let you breathe it in and enjoy the world and Chloe’s place within it, or pull you into Chloe’s mind as she battles herself and finds guidance from an unexpected place. Oh, and did I mention there’s a game of D&D in there? Is that a fourth wall?

The soundtrack- we need to mention this soundtrack. Crossing from punk rock head-banging mosh pits, to soothing and sorrowful melodies, this soundtrack says everything about Chloe’s personality and what she is facing. As if you weren’t already feeling invested enough, that music will make you feel every bit of Chloe’s anger at the world and then pull you back to her crushing realities. It’s a rollercoaster ride, but a strangely enjoyable one.

The story is so well written and its power to draw you in and take you through the motions is incredible and so utterly deceptive. The start of the game will feel sluggish and you’ll be chomping at the bit for action, but before you know it hours have passed and you’ve barely noticed. The steady rise and fall of compounding conflict with little resolution builds the experience to something truly memorable.

Experience…that’s the word I would best use to describe Before the Storm. Requiring only very basic controls while enveloping you in the story and emotion is something special. It’s about the journey you take with Chloe and Rachel. And when the end of that first chapter hits you in the face, you’ll be left long until I can do this all over again?

If you love a great story or experience in gaming then Life is Strange: Before the Storm is one I highly recommend to you.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm, Episode 1- "Awake" is available on Xbox One, PS4 and PC now.


Remutha, or Rem, has been writing for 8 years. Combining this with a love of video games Rem has been writing game reviews for 2 years.

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