Life is Strange: Before the Storm


Deck Nine Games/DONTNOD Ent.

Koby Haldorson, Staff writer


Excitement ages quickly. And I fear, if we set out in search of new fun, you’ll tire of me and then I’ll be alone.“- Chloe Price, Life is Strange: Before the Storm.


The Basics

Life is Strange is essentially a point-and-click video game, designed in an episodic format. The first season of the game consists of five episodes, while the prequel season contains three. The prequel, titled Life is Strange: Before the Storm, focuses on Chloe Price, a high-schooler in the fictional town of Arcadia Bay, Oregon, becoming close friends with one of the popular students. It takes place several years after her best friend, Maxwell Caulfield, moves away to Seattle. At the start of this prequel, Chloe becomes friends with a popular girl, Rachel Amber. As stated before, the game splits itself up into three parts: episode one, Awake, episode two, Brave New World, and episode three, Hell is Empty.

This episodic format has worked for games in the past, like Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead or the original Life is Strange. In this prequel season, the episodic style both hinders and assists the story. With each episode, there was a month in between the release of the episodes, and this spacing did allow people to “savor the experience”, but it did sometimes end up feeling like the long wait for the next episode caused you to forget what happened in the previous one. If you complete episode one, and then begin the wait for episode two, you might not remember small things that happened to further the plot or the characters.

But in a game where the best experience comes from knowing everything about the material, this can prove to be very bad, but considering that both seasons have complete editions out now, I’d say this poses no problem for anyone looking to pick up the games.


The Story


The game takes place three years before the original Life is Strange, and centers around Chloe Price and Rachel Amber, two students from opposite ways of life, becoming friends. Most of the story is about Rachel finding out that the woman she knows as her mother actually isn’t her biological mother. She soon finds out that her real mom was a drug addict, and her dad convinced her to leave, to make sure that Rachel was never subjected to her behaviors.

As a player, you care far more about these characters if you’ve played season one, but BtS does a good job of getting you to care about people like Rachel Amber, or her mom Sera in the short amount of time the game has to accomplish that task. Many times, the game is able to further character development, but quite often, characters say things that are awkward, or you’ll choose a dialogue option that seems good but ends up being a horrible thing to say.

The plotline isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, but BtS does well with expanding on the pre-existing characters’ reasoning for the things they’ve done by the start of the season one. Some characters in the game really have no reason to be a part of the main plot, like Eliot Hampden, whose part in the story begins as a possible love interest but slowly devolves into an unnecessary stalker sub-plot.

Overall, the characters and their motivations start strong and stay strong throughout the game, and it does really well overall at keeping interest in the plot high, though it occasionally falters. BtS rehashes everything we know about the world of Life is Strange, but it does it in a way that doesn’t feel lazy, or pointless. As a story, BtS excels at most of what it does. This prequel season never feels like there isn’t a need for it.

While it has many downfalls, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Before the Storm only trips up during the lulls, as this is when many awkward moments occur, or when characters actions’ feel forced. All in all, the characters and story easily make up the best part of the game, as most other elements are nothing new. But as a game, it works extremely well, and is absolutely worth your time.


Graphics and Music

Before the Storm is built on the Unity game engine, a quite popular engine to create games on. The engine allows for the stylized pseudo-realistic look that the game achieves. Both the prequel and season one are made on Unity, and while the two games aren’t the most realistic-looking, but they do both have a certain style to them that helps them stand out from the countless other games that try to do similar things. As for the music, season one featured an instrumental score and licensed songs, while Before the Storm features a mix of original and licensed songs, with the occasional instrumental score. The original songs were done by Daughter, an indie folk band from England. The game series has been praised for its music and look, and those two aspects definitely fall into the positives.