Life Is Strange: Before The Storm – Episode 2
The middle episode of the Life Is Strange prequel has arrived after it’s brief break. With there only being one more episode left, it had to be filled with enough content and moments to keep the player engaged enough to want to come back for the finale. For me, I think it succeeds in that. Let’s discuss where we are with Before The Storm. Possible spoilers for episode 1.
So if you played the first episode, you’ll know that it ended in a very surprising manner, with a giant fire and a lot of screaming. The episode starts with Chloe and Rachel in the Principal’s office for skipping school in the previous episode. Sadly, the choices made here only serve to prove the illusion of choice issue that a lot of people had with the original. While at first glance, it looks like your options really will change the course of what’s going on, but as the episode continues and you still play the same scenes with different dialogue, the cracks start to show.
The story HAS to hit certain beats which, in a choice-heavy game like this, can definitely hurt the replay value. While this doesn’t seem to be the case for all of the choices, this does present somewhat flawed writing. Don’t dismiss the game’s choices entirely due to this somewhat rare occurrence though, it will still present you options that will have you stumped wondering if there even is a morally right choice to make. At the halfway point of this episode, the game hit me with two choices within two minutes of each other that legitimately had me sitting in front of the screen, analyzing the situation and the consequences of what I was doing. Hopefully the next episode helps the game to escape from the “illusion of choice” stigma through punishing me for being such a bad person in this one.
While choice is a focus, every Life Is Strange fan will be quick to remind you about the series’ strong suit, the journey to the end and the character development. Life Is Strange has continued to showcase its masterful character development in this episode with scenes like Chloe and Rachel having a therapy session in the junkyard. You get more insight on what Chloe is feeling about everything and you learn more about Rachel. Choice is what gets people into games like this, but Deck Nine is doing a fantastic job of making the calmer moments worthwhile and filling them with exposition and character development.
The character interactions do vary person to person though. For the most part, I enjoyed interacting with most of the characters. They all seem varied in personality even though some are very clearly high school student archetypes, such as jock characters and nerd characters. Some of the dialogue can come off as very pretentious, like the conversation with Samuel the janitor. In the original game, fans theorized that he was some sort of fortune teller or prophet. Deck Nine is apparently trying to embrace that by giving him very unnatural and overdone dialogue that just feels very odd and uncomfortable. I was actually annoyed talking to the guy. I asked him if he’d seen a character named Eliot recently. He said he “only sees what Eliot wants him to see”, and continued on the topic of “seeing what people want him to see” without actually telling me if he’d seen Eliot. Game writers, if you’re going to have a character pretend to be a prophet or a fortune teller, please be more passive in hinting at that. Dialogue like this just comes off as forced and ostentatious.
In terms of gameplay, it still has puzzles and Backtalk. By puzzles, I mean one puzzle. It’s not really much of a puzzle, honestly, it’s just figuring out a lock code by looking at a bunch of posters and emails in the room you’re in. If you can’t figure it out, the game auto-solves it for you anyway, making the effort of looking for it basically pointless.
Backtalk is back and it’s just as fun as it was in the first episode, outsmarting your opposition still feels really good and if you’re not great at them, there’s still the option of not doing them. There is one occurrence where it doesn’t quite make sense in which you talk your way past a security guard by saying you have to go to the restroom because it’s that time of the month. Realistically, he would walk you to the restroom if it was that serious, instead he lets you, a former student, go into the boys’ dorm by yourself. Maybe next episode the guard gets fired for that or something, because that would be unacceptable. He isn’t in the original game, so maybe that’s what happens, but we’ll see.
Deck Nine has set themselves up for what should hopefully be a great payoff with the last episode. Episode 2 was very eventful, and even though fans of the original game know how it ends, the quality of Before The Storm so far has held up to be a worthwhile prologue to hold us over until Life Is Strange 2 arrives. When it does arrive, be sure to come back to Fanbros.com for the review. If you wanted to watch a playthrough of the second episode, I did one on my personal channel that you could check out.