Review: Life is Strange: Before the Storm (Awake)
Life is Strange was one of the biggest surprises in my gaming years. Just like many others, I enjoyed the emotional story filled with plot twists, harsh emotions and some paranormal elements. Holding back my tears at the ending of it all wasn’t easy, just like me, a lot of gamers connected with Max and Chloe, understanding their struggles. Life is Strange: Before the Storm is created by a different team and serves as a prequel to the events of the original game. In this game, you’ll control the rebellious Chloe during the most difficult years of her young life.
Dealing with your regular life
Just like the original, developers Deck Nine managed to a certain atmosphere around its characters. In ‘Before the Storm’, you’ll follow Chloe’s story. For those who’ve played the original, you might remember Chloe as the troubled teenager who rebelled against everything that came in her path. During the original game, it was a bit hard to connect with her, especially when you compared her to her best friend Max, who mastered some time traveling powers and was way softer to her surroundings. Chloe was just a rebellious teen, a teen that’s hard to understand.
Right from the start, Before the Storm hits the right spot. We see Chloe ignoring the rules her mother created just to sneak off to see her favorite band in an abandoned mill. The setting is just right and matches the character of Chloe perfectly. In order to actually enter the party (legally Chloe is still too young), she’ll need to get past the bouncer. It’s here where you’ll be introduced to the new mechanic called back chat.
The back chat mechanic is a new way to get what you want. Remember Max’s time traveling power in the original? Well, talking back and insulting others seems to be Chloe’s power. Of course, it’s not as impressive but it is a fun thing to do. What the game does is giving you the opportunity to talk your way in or out of certain situations. For example, if you can ‘impress’ the bouncer with your skill of talking back, he’ll laugh it away and eventually lets you enter the club. The mechanism depends on words the other character said and your comeback somewhat turning those words the other way around.
The way you’re handling the situation is visualized with a small meter on the button of the screen. For example, you’ll need four great combacks to enter the club while the bouncer will only need one wrong answer to stop you from going in. It’s never precise science but if you’re good at comebacks in real life, you’ll never struggle to find the right answer. It’s an interesting new mechanic that has potential to deliver emotional verbal fights, too bad it’s used for cringe worthy dialogues during this first episode. Seeing Chloe talk back to her ‘opponents’ often results in weak and immature conversations, I hope this changes in the next episode.
A romantic story
Without spoiling too much of the story itself, it’s all about Chloe struggling with the death of her father and difficult situation at home since her mother tries to move on with a new man. Chloe doesn’t accept this and does everything that’s in her power to make the life of her mother and new man as hard as possible. It’s a story a lot of gamers will be able to relate to and it even makes it easier to understand Chloe’s actions from the original game a bit better. For those who’ve played the original game, Rachel Amber also returns to the scene, as a romantic interest of Chloe.
It’s easy to see that the romance between Rachel and Chloe will be the main story of this mini-series. This is also by far the most interesting thing about this first episode. You’ll really feel the tension between the two characters and deciding what to say to Rachel will be the hardest decision you’ll have to make. Just like the original, everything you say will have consequences for the further story so gamers will eventually see different endings. This first episode serves as a nice introduction to the romance between two ‘damaged’ teenagers and comes with a really emotional ending, wanting you to play the second episode directly after (too bad we’ll have to wait for that one a little longer).
It’s great to be back in the gorgeous world of ‘Life is Strange’. This first episode is the perfect introduction to the dark world of Chloe where a new romance seems to be the only light that keeps her going. The back chat feature sure has potential to become very interesting but isn’t used in the right way just yet. I can’t wait to see the evolution of these characters in the upcoming episodes, I think we’re in for a couple more surprises!