With Max out of the picture and Chloe stepping in as the new lead, how will Life is Strange: Before the Storm fare compared to the original?
Whew! Last week was a busy one for gaming! Between Mario + Rabbids dropping on Switch, and the Destiny 2 PC beta eating up all my free time, I almost missed something HUGE. The new Life is Strange prequel was released! Well… episode 1, to be more precise.
I have to admit, the story-driven games that have managed to hold my attention over the years are few and far between. One of the few exceptions to this rule, though, is most definitely Life is Strange. For those not initiated, it follows the journey of a subdued teen girl named Max who discovers she has obtained the ability to rewind time.
Chloe is just as quippy and sarcastic as ever.
From that realization on, you’re taken on a Doctor-Who-esque roller-coaster ride through murder, deceit, and intrigue. Along the way you meet a large spectrum of interesting characters, not the least of which is Max’s edgy, punk-rocker best friend Chloe. The duo are a perfect ying to each other’s yang, and their banter makes for some of the most memorable moments in the entire game.
Entering into this side-story, dubbed “Life is Strange: Before the Storm”, you take control of the queen shit-lord herself. There were several hints in Season 1 about how much Chloe changed since Max last saw her, but the audience was always left wanting more. Luckily, Before the Storm delves deep into Chloe’s past, and sheds some light on her long-elusive friendship with Rachel Amber.
POSSIBLE SPOILER WARNING: IF YOU HAVEN’T PLAYED LIFE IS STRANGE SEASON 1, JUST GO DO THAT INSTEAD OF READING THIS, OK? SAVE YOURSELF THE HEADACHE.
Back off, Chump!
I was initially a bit hesitant about this new installment of Life is Strange. You play as Chloe instead of Max, so you no longer have access to any “Super Max” time-bending abilities. These powers felt so deeply entrenched into the series thus far, that I was worried this new story wouldn’t pack the same punch. But man, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Chloe is just as quippy and sarcastic as ever, providing dialogue options that let you explore your inner Rick Sanchez. In situations where Max would typically just tremble awkwardly and walk away, Chloe will gladly get right up in someone’s face. This means you get to stir up shit with a lot more skeezy dudes, drug dealers, and psychos, which is hella fun!
The moments and gaps that would have usually been filled with time-puzzles, are now replaced with a “back-talk” mode. During certain conversations, you’ll see the option to enter into a quick-fire mini-game where you try to out-insult your opponent. It goes through several rounds of back-and-forth mouthing-off, and keeps a tally on who has the upper-hand. If you win the encounter, you dish out one last zinger and finally get what you want. For better or worse.
Back To Blackwell
Equally as interesting as the new gameplay elements is observing the Life is Strange world through a different time and lens. Before the Storm, as the name implies, is a prequel to Season 1 of the series. However, I would not recommend playing this before Season 1. Some of the best parts were seeing old characters in an earlier state of their development. For example: Victoria, the self-entitled giga-bitch from before, is a shadow of her future self. When Chloe first bumps into her, Victoria’s riding the high of a recent art award she won, and is actually somewhat nice.
Other familiar faces peek out here and there, but the one person we’ve never seen until now is none other than Rachel Amber. To recap, Rachel’s disappearance was what got the entire series in motion in the first place, so I was captivated from the moment she stepped into the picture. She’s an outgoing, energetic hippie who becomes fascinated with Chloe after the circumstances of their initial encounter.
Rachel oozes confidence, and is effortlessly charismatic. Her bubbly attitude takes Chloe off her guard, and diffuses her tough-girl attitude with ease. All she has to do is give that Natalie Dormer grin, and it’s all over. She’s not without her flaws, however. She’s also impulsive, emotional, and can get kind of scary on occasion. Things are most certainly not well in ole’ Arcadia Bay, and Rachel definitely has a hand in making it that way.
Episode 1 of Before the Storm hits every note perfectly. Returning to Arcadia Bay feels like visiting your hometown to catch up with old friends, while introducing a few new ones along the way. I am absolutely clamoring for Episode 2 of Life is Strange: Before the Storm, and can’t wait to see where Deck Nine takes the story next!
Big fan of Life is Strange? Have any theories of where things will go in the next episode? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter: @VGOutpost. You could go ahead and follow us too. That’d be hella tight.