If you missed the Life is Strange hype train, fear not, as the series is back with a new prequel. Before the Storm episode 1, set three years prior to Max’s journey, allows us to experience Arcadia Bay through Chloe’s eyes and understand her character better. The story takes place during the time when Max, the protagonist of Life is Strange, is far away from Arcadia Bay and Chloe’s pain of losing her father is still very fresh.
For those who have not played Life is Strange, it is an episodic adventure series, with a similar format as Telltale Games, developed by DONTNOD Entertainment, which surprised a lot of indie gamers with its compelling storytelling and relatability. The game gathered critical acclaim and has developed a huge fan base ever since.
Although I was a bit sceptic about playing a prequel to the original story, I was also very excited by the notion of getting back into the LiS world. Just as in the original story, we get to walk around in Arcadia Bay and interact with the same old characters and get to know them on a deeper level. The game also brings back the coming of age, cheesy dialog and the teenage angst that we got to know and love in the first game. Deck Nine’s BtS, however, has sidelined the time traveling and supernatural aspects of the game (so far) and instead has introduced the Backtalk challenge, which is exactly what it sounds like and fits Chloe’s character very well.
During the ‘Backtalk’ moments, the player has a limited amount of time to choose the right counter argument, based on word association, to get Chloe’s opponent to back off so that she could get her own way. The Backtalk is also a good opportunity for the players to let out their inner child. The choices made during the Backtalk are permanent and cannot be changed.
Before the Storm take us through Chloe’s quest to learn to trust and let people into her life. We get to know and focus on her relationship with Rachel Amber, a character whose nature and personality was left to players’ imagination in Life is Strange. For the good or the bad, we can now finally see who Rachel Amber is and see if she is able to help Chloe in her quest for happiness.
The word “prequel” doesn’t usually spark any excitement in people, especially when they know for certain how the story will end without any ambiguity. Life is Strange: Before the Storm might seem like a teenage drama but in its heart it is a story about love, friendship and trust. DONTNOD Entertainment created a world filled with lively characters and seems like Deck Nine has managed to recreate that world. Welcome back to Arcadia Bay.
Developer: Deck Nine
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Initial release date: August 31, 2017