As a prequel to Life Is Strange that came out in 2015, Life Is Strange: Before The Storm tells the story of the 16-year old Chloe Price, Max Caulfield’s best friend in the first game. Which, in certain circumstances, I guess they still are. Chloe is a rebel, who forms a relationship with Rachel Amber, the popular girl at school, who is beautiful and is destined for success. However, we already know Rachel’s fate: it is a sad and unfair one. But now she is here: alive and kicking. After playing a whole game searching for her, it is nice to finally be able to meet her. This time around, we get to learn even more about this lost girl. We know she has a secret that will strengthen her relationship with Chloe, that takes their friendship to a new level. Because this is not just a story about Chloe, it is also the story of Rachel. Together, they will overcome their demons in Life Is Strange: Before The Storm.
The time has come for us to return to Arcadia Bay. I choose to believe that many of us have mixed feelings about this. In light of Max’s ability, we rewind time and are now in an Arcadia Bay where Max is in Seattle to go to school and has not moved back to start at Blackwell yet. Chloe tries to get in contact with her (judging from the information on her phone) but is replied with silence and rejection.
One cannot talk about the Life Is Strange games without mentioning the fantastic soundtrack – and how the music is used to match the protagonist’s personality. I love how they have adapted the music to fit Chloe’s personality better. Ranging from hard rock to indie, it reflects her mood – even though it fluctuates like the bounce of a ping-pong ball.
While speaking of our protagonist, let me just address the elephant in the room right away. The biggest problem had nothing to do with the game itself – but rather the stuff that happened in the making of it: Chloe’s voice. If you don’t know about this, let me explain: because of the long strike in the Screen Actors Guild, Chloe’s voice from the first game, Ashley Burch (who also gave her voice to Aloy in Horizon Zero Dawn and Tiny Tina in Borderlands 2), had to make a heartbreaking sacrifice because of this strike:
“I broke off a little piece of my soul when I did the first Life Is Strange and put it in Chloe”, she says to Kotaku.
Rhianna DeVries is the voice actress who has now given her voice to the 16-year old version of Chloe, and I’ve got to admit… I hear the difference, and I sadly have to say that I’m not a fan. There is something off about the way Chloe says things. And it may just be me that’s being real sensitive about the whole thing – because I really liked Chloe in Life Is Strange. Either way, this is a discussion with a lot of different stories to it and is not something I will discuss further here. There were big shoes to fill, and I guess that the outcome is better than no game at all. Because so far, this is a good game.
Unlike the first game, which had 5 episodes, Life Is Strange: Before The Storm has 3. But in return, they are longer. The game is as beautiful as it always has been. For example, you’ll notice how the main menu changes after you’ve played the first episode! I like little details such as that. Speaking of details, the last game had a butterfly (representing the never-ending cycle of life, and also represents the mind and our ability to change it when necessary) as the autosave symbol. Now, it’s a bird: the symbol of freedom and perspective. Which describes Chloe pretty nicely. While those might be only tiny details – they are interesting changes, and worth paying attention to, I think.
There is also a new important feature to the game, which replaces Max’s ability. This was highly discussed among fans when Square Enix announced the release of Before The Storm – Max’s ability was such a big part of the game, so what would they replace that with? Well, instead of rewinding time, Chloe’s ability is pretty obvious if you just think about it: her mouth. Yup. The Backtalk Challenge occurs either when you get in a fight, persuade them, etc. Sometimes, the person with the best argument wins. And other times, the more the comment hurts, the better. The more you explore the scenery, the more information you have to talk about. Gather information from what the other person is saying, only to turn it around and use it against them. It almost felt like a psychology session, where I learned about how humans use language as a weapon against each other.
This episode is a very promising start to a new adventure with Chloe. Life Is Strange is about teenage life, and all the love, hurt, rebellion, conflict, and drama that follows it. Life Is Strange: Before The Storm is no different. They are games about life experiences. Even though I was sceptical at first, it has already managed to pull me back into its universe – I am really excited to see what’s next, and how the story of these two girls unfold. Obviously, we know how it turns out, but I am excited to see more of the road that it leads up to!
Just a friendly tip: If someone asks you to play dungeons and dragons with them… say yes.