Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Review

A game that is far better than it had any reason to be.

Normally prequels, whether in games or in movies, aren’t welcomed or worthwhile. This game breaks that stigma. The story line of Life is Strange: Before the Storm takes place before the events of the original Life is Strange but after the plot point of Max leaving Arcadia Bay. This setup left many people upset because the main character of the original would not be in the game. Mentions by Chloe are the only ghosts of Max even existing. Fans were left with the idea of playing as Chloe, who was a beloved character, but not the main focus that they had been endeared to . This character shift made it hard for some to accept playing a game that covers material that has somewhat been detailed in a game they have already played.

As someone who had these exact concerns, it can be said that they were laid to rest almost immediately. Not long into the game that groove of walking around, inspecting things felt homey and familiar. Along with that, seeing sites and faces that you know made it feel like you were back in Life is Strange. Playing as Chloe became natural as her story started rolling out. That tough as nails on the outside but brittle as glass  on the inside persona played out in heartbreaking tones. If it can make a forty year-old man like myself feel empathy for a teenage girl then I have to say they did a fine job. As I played through the game, I forgot what happens to Chloe in the original game and fell into what was happening to her in Before the Storm. It was only after I had finished the game that I took time to process it and piece even more things together.

Of course, I’ll never be one to say a game is perfect. The gameplay was a bit flustering at times when you don’t get the prompt to inspect an item. Many times the solution was just to backup, walk around a bit, then walk back up to the object. This could have been me as much as anything as I am anything but a master with the keyboard and mouse when gaming. A few times throughout the game I felt like there were some gaps in the plot and it made jumps that I didn’t feel were quite right. The possibility exists that I just missed something and there were explanations I missed. What I had the most dislike of was the ‘backtalk’ system that was employed. It was supposed to be a way of Chloe using her wit to get her way but it turned into a word match game. Just listen to the last thing the other person says and pick the response that has one of the same words in it, instant win. It took away from playing the argument the way you felt it should have gone making it feel guided and somewhat pointless.

Whether you are new to Life is Strange or coming into it new this game is well worth the play time. Unfortunately it released amongst controversy that took away from how well the game was made. Not only was there the issue of being a prequel, the game was developed by a different studio and lacked Chloe’s original voice actress. The game should be recognized and enjoyed for its own merit, not any issues that surrounded it.

If the game had released its final episode earlier it would have earned a high place on my GOTY list for 2017.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

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