Life Is Strange: Before The Storm Review

Life Is Strange: Before The Storm Review [PS4] – Episode 3: ‘Hell Is Empty’

“You’re the only one in the world I can trust.”

Ladies and gentlemen, here we are. Each ending requires collecting the loose threads.

We have experienced the quandaries of teenage life with Chloe and Rachel, and now the time has come to end an amazing journey. Before you continue reading, I should mention that this review probably contains some spoilers, because I feel it would be difficult to express my opinions to the fullest without mentioning some important factors in the game. However, I will try and keep the spoilers to a minimum. Also, this will be a longer review, as I will comment on the final episode, as well as the entire season as a whole. Are you ready?

Life Is Strange: Before The Storm Review

The third and final episode, titled “Hell is Empty,” picks right up where it left off in the previous episode “Brave New World, where we learn that the wife of Rachel’s father is not, in fact, her real mother. As my jaw dropped, the episode ended, so I was more than eager to continue on the final episode. The story of Rachel’s mother is long, dark, and sad – but in short, she got involved with drugs, and continually making bad decisions in life evidently leads to her losing custody over Rachel. Bad parenting is a reoccurring factor in the Life Is Strange-series, and their choices as parents clearly reflect the choices of the teenagers. Chloe and Rachel’s parents have made some bad choices in life, and making amends might be harder than one might think. We get to see several sides of the story as we learn about Rachel’s rough past.

Life Is Strange: Before The Storm Review
Sometimes you have to lie in order to protect someone you love.

The episode starts out in confusion, sadness and anger. As a consequence of the reveal of her biological mother, Rachel becomes obsessed with the idea of meeting her. After playing detective, Chloe finds out that this is not necessarily a good idea… But because she is a good (girl)friend, she wants to support Rachel in her decisions; whether they are good or bad. At the end of the road, you are faced with a solid dilemma, where you have to decide what is best for Rachel, and how you can do your best to protect her. The “power” that Chloe has – using words to persuade others in her favor – becomes even more important in this episode, as the outcome of these “verbal battles” decide whether we have to take the easy or the hard way to achieve what we want. Talking about things that one might go great lengths to avoid, is also an important aspect of this universe. Perhaps we might learn a thing or two from Chloe?

I’ve come to learn that when life gets hard for other people, you can count on Chloe to be there for you. Chloe is many things, but she is a damn good friend. Yet sometimes, a good friend can be taken advantage of. Slowly but surely, the player is made aware of all the things Chloe keeps doing for Rachel, without receiving anything in return. As such, the relationship between Chloe and Rachel is, in my opinion, highly romanticized. It doesn’t feel 100% believable, but it is nevertheless a beautiful and strong relationship that I guess everyone would aspire to have. The worst part of it is that it breaks my heart to see them now because I know how the relationship – unwillingly – comes to an end. The beauty of friendship and love seeps through the cracks of the dull and dismal surface, making the hard stuff a little easier to deal with, which I can appreciate. It doesn’t make the issues too heavy, just heavy enough to make the right amount of impact on the player.

Life Is Strange: Before The Storm Review
“Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality…”

Doing and dealing drugs are some of the issues that our teenagers encounter – which often include violence, and this time around is unfortunately no exception. However, as the drama escalates quickly in this episode, we can always rely on a whole new round of Dungeons & Dragons as a nice change of pace. This sequence is even longer now than it was in the first episode, but you’re not going to see me complain about it. This scene made Chloe forget all the grief, despair, and anger that she was going through, if only just for a few moments. And realizing that she had more friends than she thought might have given her the shove she needed.

And one simply cannot make A Life Is Strange review without commenting on the soundtrack. For this season, the developers chose to cooperate with the London trio neo-folk band Daughter to compose the music for this season. They even released an individual album with the songs on their Spotify. The sound of the music has a lot of character that blends beautifully in with the theme of the game, and I have found myself coming back to it repeatedly – the band truly did a great job with the soundtrack, so kudos to them. And if you have only played the first season of Life Is Strange, and you, for some reason, find yourself reading this review, I can promise you that the music aspect of the game will not disappoint you.

Even though this journey is a fulfilling one, I cannot help but feel a little disappointed. The game decided to give me a happy-ever-after ending, which I feel was unsatisfactory. Rachel’s fate is far from happy, and I think that the ending of this episode should have reflected that more than it did. I do sometimes enjoy when games give us the opportunity to create theories about what happens, but “Hell Is Empty” rather gave us too much to be interpreted.

The game left a gap storywise between the end of season 2 and season 1, whereas I hoped that the gap would be much smaller. When does Rachel meet the teacher that will inevitably murder her? What happens between Chloe and Rachel in between these events? All we know is what we learn from the first game, which is just bits and pieces told from a broken Chloe. Even though if you wait until after the credits have rolled, you do get to see a disturbing nod towards Rachel’s terrible fate. I just think it wasn’t enough. The second episode was by far the best one, because it had a fantastic build-up, with an amazing plot twist at the end. This was a fairly short episode of approximately 2-3 hours, whereas the previous episode was about 4 hours long.

I also found it interesting that the first half of the series is more about Chloe, but then the spotlight shifts to Rachel. All in all, I love this series, and if you are a fan of narrative-heavy games, I will highly recommend that you play this game. Just remember to play the other one, too.

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Life Is Strange: Before The Storm – Episode 2: Brave New World Review [PS4]

Don’t be surprised, Chloe, if one day I’m just out of here.

It is time to return to Arcadia Bay for the second episode of Life Is Strange: Before The Storm. It’s been approximately two months since the first episode was released, and I’m glad it didn’t take any longer because the first episode left off at a very tense place.

We know more about Chloe, Rachel, and their relationship – and I’m excited to see where their story is headed, and what crossroads they encounter. In the first episode, Chloe and Rachel ditched school and, long story short, they started a forest fire. Now, we see the ramifications of that, as the new episode starts out at the principal’s office.

My actions in the game got me expelled from Blackwell, but I don’t think you actually have a choice regarding that since we already know from the first game that Chloe had been expelled. Luckily, the principal doesn’t know about the forest fire, otherwise, their fates would have had a very different story.

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Chloe, The Exit Wounder.

The new episode is called Brave New World, and that is exactly what Chloe has to adapt to. Along with getting expelled from school, she has to deal with a difficult family situation; the wrath of her mother Joyce and her demeaning stepfather David. Joyce doesn’t know what to do about having a rebelling teenager as a daughter and looks to David for help. Much to Chloe’s despair, he has made the decision to move in. As a result, she drifts even further away.

It’s no secret that our protagonist is leading a challenging life. She repeatedly shows the willingness to sacrifice so much, just in order to feel. Even though Chloe is in many ways the victim here, it is important to note that Chloe continually fails to see that there is actually a world that evolves and exists outside her own. But no, being Chloe isn’t easy. Not at all. Her repeated dreams about her father show how she is still unconsciously dealing with the trauma of losing him. And her dreams are getting more and more messed up.

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Rachel has the main role in The Tempest, a play set up by Blackwell’s students.

On a random note; remember Frank’s dog Pompidou? We get to meet him again! AS A PUPPY! Some quality story-elements right there, folks. However, as a natural yet unfortunate consequence of meeting Pompidou the Puppy, we also have to deal with his d-bag of an owner, Frank.

Being a drug dealer, and messing around with the wrong people, we know that when Frank contacts Chloe, it’s never good news. And this time around is no different. Because Chloe owes him money, she is forced to run some errands for him, which could get her into serious trouble. And it does.

I also want to report that Victoria is still a b- … stupid girl. Teenagers will do whatever it takes to get what they want, and that is shown when the students of Blackwell are setting up a play called The Tempest. However, we end up watching it in a not-so-regular way… because something unpredictable always happens.

Sera, the woman Rachel’s dad is having an affair with, is an ominously recurring figure, and we learn what her role is in Brave New World. A huge secret, which I was not at all expecting, is revealed at the end – it blew my mind. Boom-boom style.

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There is one thing Chloe is particularly good at, and that is speaking her mind. Or in this case, drawing it.

And also, the menu has changed yet again. After the first episode, the forest (which is the background of the menu) was engulfed in flames. After the second episode, the flame has died out, and we see the aftermath of the forest fire. Almost like a calm Before The Storm. Get it?

In all seriousness, though, things are taking off in Arcadia Bay. This is a story about teenagers slipping from the surface, and how they manage – or don’t – to get back up. The dialogue is still cringe-worthy, yet I am still loving it. And the soundtrack… amazing and on point. As always.

I’m very excited for the last episode, yet I am dreading to see the end of it… I am not ready to say goodbye just yet. I feel empty after this episode. I don’t know what to feel, everything is so scrambled and messed up. I’m intrigued, however, and I’m expecting that the game will mess around with my feelings, even more, when the last episode arrives, with as ominous a title as Hell is Empty.

We get to see the many masks that people put up, so they don’t have to deal with the confrontation of their problems. There’s a life lesson to be taken from this: don’t be so quick to judge other people. Everybody’s got some kind of baggage.

Life Is Strange: Before the Storm

Life Is Strange: Before The Storm Episode 1 Review (PS4)

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.

Life Is Strange: Before the Storm
New adventures ahead!

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.

Life Is Strange: Before the Storm
Rebel Yell.

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.

Life Is Strange: Before the Storm

New musical score released for Life Is Strange: Before The Storm

London trio Daughter has just released Music from Before the Storm, an original musical score for, you guessed it, Life Is Strange: Before The Storm.

Before The Storm is a prequel to the magnificent first game: a narrative experience in which the key characters faced everyday issues, touching upon difficult situations such as bullying, suicide, teen pregnancy as well as tackling the complexities of love and friendship…

We won’t say anymore though, in case you haven’t played it yet.

The band has released a behind-the-scenes video feature that explains the scoring process involved, which you can watch here:

Life Is Strange: Before The Storm Episode 1 is out now on PS4, Xbox One and PC. We’ll have our review up for it shortly.

Life Is Strange: Before The Storm’s new Chloe and David gameplay shows a turbulent relationship indeed

Welcome back to Arcadia Bay! Did you miss it? I sure did. But before we go any further:

(Spoiler warning)

Ok… So a new gameplay trailer released today shows a 16-year-old Chloe Price, who is still struggling with her father’s death, trying to deal with the unwelcome entry of a new father figure, David, into her life.

Following events in the Mill the night before, this scene – which is cut together from a much longer sequence in the game – unveils Chloe’s house for the first time in Before the Storm and provides gamers with a glimpse at Chloe and David’s turbulent relationship.

The first of the three episodes of Life is Strange: Before the Storm is entitled ‘Awake’ and will release on the 31st August for Xbox One, PS4 and Steam.

The fact we’re even getting more LIS is enough to blow my mind.

E3 2017: Life Is Strange prequel is real, first episode out August 31st

Life is Strange’s prequel (we all knew was coming) has been confirmed today at Microsoft’s E3 2017 conference.

It’s called Life Is Strange: Before The Storm and is a three-part episodic adventure developed by Deck Nine. Players will take control of Chloe in events that take place before the beloved first game.

Episode 1 will be released this August 31st on Xbox One, and we assume everything else too. Check out the trailer below!