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Life Is Strange: Before The Storm Episode One Review

September 1, 2017 | Posted by Stewart Lange
Life Is Strange: Before The Storm
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Life Is Strange: Before The Storm Episode One Review  

Set up as a prequel to the surprise 2015 hit, Life Is Strange: Before The Storm offers back story into one of the main characters; Chloe Price. While mention is made of Max Caulfield, the protagonist of the first game, this is set during her absence from the fictional town of Arcadia Bay in Oregon and focuses on Chloe’s friendship with Rachel Amber. Rachel was missing by the start of the events of the first game, with Max vowing to help Chloe discover what happened to her new friend.

A big part of the first game was the ability to travel through time using Max’s photographs, but with no Max, there is no time manipulation, since the events of this three part story all play into what we saw during the first game. Instead, there are spots for Chloe to “tag” with her trusty marker, giving you a meaningless choice between edgy slogans for her to vandalise different parts of Arcadia Bay. Much like the optional photographs in season one, these hold no relevance to the story and work only as a means to tag on achievements.

Whilst I will try and avoid actual plot spoilers, since the way you make choices directly influences how the game plays out, I will have to touch upon a few in game moments during this review. Read the next couple of paragraphs at your discretion.

The biggest thing about episode one was always going to be the fact that Chloe isn’t a particularly likeable character. She’s a forced “anarchist,” with most dialogue options giving you the choice between two hostile responses, or on the few occasions where it looks like you can see her warmer side, she responds with a particularly snide retort. Reluctantly accepting a fist bump from your mothers boyfriend (David, the moustached suspect from season one) should be part of a choice you make to warm Chloe toward him, but is instead coupled with bitchy comments.

Theft, vandalism, and destruction of property were all things I was able to do in this chapter as Chloe, but I didn’t enjoy any of them. I found Max to be a likeable, albeit troubled character in the previous game, but it does seem that Chloe has forced a lot of her issues upon herself in dealing with her fathers death. She’s rude to her friends, she intentionally alienates herself from them and I found it extremely hard to care about her during this first episode. Whilst certain events towards the end did start to bring me around to her, I hope that this continues in episode 2. Even during an overly long game of Dungeons and Dragons you have the choice of playing in the school yard, Chloe finds ways to annoy and take things too far with two of the few people in the school who actually have time for her.

A large part of the issue I have with the dialogue between characters is that the majority of it is between teenagers, mainly 16 year old girls. Given the fact the game is written by an adult male, it’s hard to take a lot of what they say seriously, as a number of times it almost descended into “how do you do, fellow kids” territory. It’s not all bad, all the time, but it can be fairly hard going at points. Thankfully, the overall story seems to be off to a good start. There are enough plot threads running to have me interested in the next part of the story, whilst the climactic event between Rachel and Chloe does suggest things are going to get extremely interesting.

Graphically, nothing has changed since the first game, however the town is bright and vibrant, with the locations you explore feeling real enough. Some animation issues are apparent but aren’t game breaking by any means. The soundtrack has been overseen by indie and Daughter, so there is a lot of emphasis on music and the ambient soundtrack works well throughout.

Whilst Life Is Strange: Before The Storm is not without it’s issues, there is enough here to keep me interested in episode two, however a big part of that is to see if the Chloe character can win me over. Much of the first episode is used to set the scene, but I don’t feel enough was done here considering we’re already a third of the way through. Certain moments were a little bit twee and certainly missed the mark they were aiming for, but if you enjoyed the first game and want to revisit some of the locations; if not the more likeable characters; then pick this up. If you didn’t play the first season, absolutely make sure to play that first. Considering the first episode is free across most platforms, it’ll give you a good indication. Just don’t hold out hope for more time manipulation until the sequel that we’ve been promised.

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
Some questionable dialogue and character issues kept me from enjoying this as much as I enjoyed any of the first season, but there's enough here to build upon. Hopefully episode two makes everything clearer and gives direction back to a promising franchise.