Life Is Strange has to be one of my favourite episodic games due to its captivating story, art style and soundtrack. With the release of Life Is Strange: Before The Storm, the prequel to the first game, this game would not disappoint.
I’m going to start this with my thoughts on episodic games. I have a love/hate relationship with them and it really tears me apart. I really want to get my hands on them as soon as I can but the timeframe between episode releases often breaks my attention span and memory of past events, despite the obligatory “last time on….” On the other hand, the stories within are so good that it is virtually a crime to miss. Life Is Strange was definitely one of these, it was a fantastic experience from start to finish regardless of its limited faults.
This time, I chose to wait for Life Is Strange: Before The Storm to be released in its entirety so that I could jump to the next episode if I wished straight away, and to be honest, I preferred this way. I was very keen to experience the events that occurred prior to the events of Life Is Strange. I did have reservations about the gameplay considering the first title was based on Max Caulfield and her time reversing abilities. This was quickly dismissed as I enjoyed Chloe Price’s adventures with Rachel Amber, which was heavily referenced before.
We see Chloe and Rachel start their very close friendship and witness multiple events of which you have to decide which option best suits your preference. As before, some of these decisions are easy and bear little consequence but others are more difficult and can impact the characters heavily. The affected characters are not limited to Chloe and Rachel, but also other people in the game.
I must admit that I already had negative feelings for Chloe’s stepfather, David. Having the ability to choose very negative reactions towards him throughout the game was quite satisfying. Some of the consequences were obvious considering I have effectively seen the future, but others were not foreseen and there were times I regretted making certain decisions once I witnessed the outcome.
I definitely feel that there has been a lot of time spent on ensuring each character has enough “screen time” to develop and express their individual personalities which adds to the immersion of the player into the world of Arcadia Bay, you really feel for the characters and that makes it that much more personal when a decision needs to be made.
One of the things I really appreciated about Life Is Strange: Before The Storm was the option for a Bonus Episode. This episode titled Farewell is a short addition taking place even earlier in time when childhood best friends Chloe and Max first separated. Merely 3 days before her family is due to leave Arcadia Bay, you again play as Max who spends the day with Chloe reliving the fun times they spent as small children. This DLC episode is not critical but it is worth the purchase for the extra insight into the lives of Chloe and Max.
Audio & Visuals
As expected, Life Is Strange: Before The Storm lives up to the expectations set by the previous title in presenting a spectacularly beautiful environment and well-designed characters. I did not notice the lip-sync issues I had before, it was much better polished. The art style is without question, outstanding.
I cannot think of many other games whose soundtrack was as iconic as Life Is Strange: Before The Storm. Each song integrates into the game at the precise moment to induce your emotions as you play.
Life Is Strange: Before The Storm is a fantastic combination of visuals, soundtrack and storytelling that is one that I highly recommend to players of episodic games, and those who enjoy a great story.
Thank you to Dontnod Entertainment for providing a copy of Life Is Strange: Before The Storm for review purposes.