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Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 1 Awake Review

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Life is Strange: Before the Storm is a prequel starring Max’s best friend Chloe Price. This game is set three years before the original, specifically during the time Rachel and Chloe spend together.

Since Chloe does not have any supernatural powers, the entire time rewind system has been removed. The rest of the game follows the same structure. Examining objects and figuring out how to solve light puzzles forms the crux of gameplay while character interactions and choices play a key role in how the world reacts to her. You will be spending a lot of time in familiar locations such as her home or Blackwell academy.

There is a new Backtalk mechanic which takes advantage of Chloe’s argumentative nature. You must look for hints in what the other person is saying, respond accordingly and take hold of the conversation. In the beginning of the game, a bouncer is refusing to let you enter a rock concert but once Chloe shows that she can take care of herself, he lets her through.

Later on in the game, a jock is bullying Nathan Prescott and threatening to throw his research in the fountain, and I chose to interfere. But I failed that particular sequence, resulting in getting hate from both Nathan and Victoria. I doubt this incident will have any major impact on the story but I would love for future episodes to acknowledge them and shape my relationships with the other characters.

Other than the fact that she likes to draw graffiti instead of taking pictures, you are pretty much playing the same game. I have no issues with this since it is a short side-story and not a main numbered game.

I was not fond of Chloe’s character in the original game and thought the story focused too much on her, taking away screen time from the game’s more interesting characters. Now that I am playing as her, my opinion has changed dramatically. In my game, Chloe still has the devil may care attitude from the original, but she is also more subdued and slightly more respectful of others. She still has a foul mouth, but now it feels more natural for her to be experiencing conflicting emotions instead of going to the extreme in every scenario. She is still angry at the world, hates her school and wants David to drop dead, but being able to control her actions and listen to her thoughts helps me connect with the character.

Rachel Amber on the other hand appears way more rebellious and arrogant than I had imagined. There are many similarities between her character and how Chloe is portrayed in the original game. You can clearly see how influential she was, giving us context behind why Chloe acts the way she does in the main game. The episode starts with Rachel rescuing Chloe from a fight and soon after the two find themselves bunking school and going on an adventure. The relationship and friendship between Chloe and Rachel is well-told.  They act like any normal teenager would at that age placed under similar circumstances.

The dreadful lip sync is gone but animations remain awkward. I also thought the writing and voice acting, outside of the main characters, wasn’t any better than the original. Those who loved the presentation and music of Life is Strange, will be happy to learn that Before the Storm excels in this department as well. For a story driven game, it goes far and beyond its competitors in setting the mood and using music to control emotions of the player.

There are many memorable moments in the episode, including an exciting Dungeons and Dragons game in addition to an intriguing ending. But most importantly, it gives us a hint that Before the Storm may give us some idea about the questions left unanswered in the finale of Life is Strange.

Life is Strange started strong but by the end I was unsatisfied by the story they wanted to tell. While we wait for the sequel to build upon the game, Before the Storm does exactly what it needed to do – give depth to existing characters and tell us more about the world they inhibit. Even though the time rewind mechanic isn’t there, the developers understand how to best utilize character interactions to suit this genre. If you are a fan of the series, Before the Storm earns an easy recommendation.

 

OVERALL 8.0

Rating:
4/5
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