Dontnod blew everyone away in 2015 with the release of their episodic adventure ”Life is Strange”. It was a refreshing tale of teen angst with a dash of science fiction and drama that kept us on the edge of our seats with each new episode. Now in 2017, Deck Nine took up the mantle to make a prequel entitled Life is

Now in 2017, Deck Nine have taken the mantle to develop Life is Strange: Before the Storm, a prequel to the original that plays pretty much the same way with some minor differences. So don your leather jacket and let us have a “hella” good time.

There will be some mandatory spoilers from the first game, not enough to ruin the experience, but if you haven’t played it yet, be warned.

Focusing on events that happened three years prior, Before the Storm centers around Chloe Price and her relationship with Rachel Amber, a girl who is gone missing in the original game. It’s been two years since her dad had passed away, and her best friend Max had just left town. Being that she is 16, she will be going through a lot of teenage angst. The game does a pretty good job at expressing and also showing what life can do to teenagers under such conditions.

Among the narrative accolades that this series has pulled off, the most integral one is its fascinating look at teenagers and the rambunctious emotions they go through as they deal with their demons and insecurities.

Chloe is not exactly a role model: she is flawed, just like the rest of us. This is where the game shines. Chloe is relatable and endearing and though she may be an angst-ridden princess and offputting, as the story unfolds, especially with the benefit of insight from the original game, her true goodness and friendship will unravel.

Gone are Max’s abilities to rewind time and any sci-fi elements that accompanied that gift. This game is purely grounded in the realm of reality where Chloe, alone and feeling abandoned, just tries to live day by day in the hopes of leaving her hometown someday.

The main plot element this time around is the ability to use a timed ”back talk,” which essentially allows you to retort in real-time in order to get the better of people you encounter so you may progress the story and accomplish your objectives. You have to be quick, however, to gain the upper hand; too slow and you may lose the debate as well as your objective.

The first episode, entitled ”Awake,” feels more like a tutorial and an introduction to the bigger of plot of the game. There is no fight against a greater antagonist, per se. Instead, all that Chloe is concerned with is ditching school, paying off her debts (read: weed related issues), and sneaking into a concert to steal some merchandise.

As was with the original game, what you say and do will have consequences on the narrative and will define the story in the upcoming episodes. Also, much like the original, this first episode is on the underwhelming side of things. It does a good job of introducing the story and its main players, but I will be looking forward to the upcoming chapters to flesh out the full potential of the narrative.

We were all teens, we all went through teen angst, we all felt alone and abandoned, and Before the Storm manages to capture these emotions competently. It may not be for everyone, especially in regards to the art style that may put off some players, and cringe-worthy moments that will require you to suspend your disbelief from the getgo, but if you are able to go beyond these initial reactions, and if this is anything like the first game, you are sure to discover a world of mystery, intrigue and excellent characterization.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm is a prime example of a simple origins story that some may appreciate, while others may react adversely to it, labeling it as a mere cash-grab. I personally have subscribed for the full ride and will be excited to see how the story unravels and how it eventually connects with the original.

 

Life is Strange: Before the Storm is available for PC, PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One. A review code was made available to us via Square Enix.

PROS
Relateble main character
Interesting art direction and dialogue
Relaxing and feels almost like an indie movie
CONS
May not be for everyone
A slow narrative start
6.5