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Life Is Strange: Before The Storm – Episode 1 Review (GAMING)

A new addition to the Life Is Strange series has recently come out, it’s a prequel focusing on Chloe’s relationship with the original game’s most mysterious character, Rachel Amber. This game also isn’t made by the original creators, Dontnod, but a studio called Deck Nine. Did Deck Nine do the property justice and entice us with the first of this three part series? Let’s find out. No spoilers from either game if I can help it.

So as I mentioned, the story focuses on Chloe and Rachel, with the player controlling Chloe, and Rachel taking the place of secondary protagonist, similar to the role Chloe had in the first game. Since it’s the first episode, we have to wait until all of the episodes are out to judge the story in its entirety, but for the 2 hours that we got, I’m not disappointed. I’m excited to play the rest actually, they’ve done a great job reintroducing us to Chloe and introducing us to Rachel. I have seen some criticism over the way Chloe is written, and I can agree to an extent with some of her dialogue being kind of overdone or annoying, but in a way, it is a part of her character; a rebellious 16 year old who feels very alone. I am also enjoying Rachel’s somewhat savior role to Chloe, being there for someone she just met, while also having her own set of issues. As for the rest of Arcadia Bay’s citizens, they’re pretty interesting in their own right. Those that haven’t played the first game won’t know who the familiar characters are, and to be honest, I’m glad that they don’t attempt to hammer it in that they appear in the original game, making the game much more welcoming for players if they haven’t played the first. There are characters that are making their first appearances here though like Steph and Mikey, who definitely make a lasting impression by offering a completely optional raid in a tabletop game they’re playing.

In the case of the overall story in this episode, I haven’t been disappointed so far, but again, this is the first episode. In this, we got some pretty funny moments, some new information about key characters, and we’ve gotten really heavy hitting emotional scenes. We also got some pretty heavy symbolism towards the end, which has gotten the game’s community buzzing about what’s going on. Hopefully they can keep the momentum rolling and keep the level of quality up through to the end.

If you were at all familiar with the first game, you probably know that the main gameplay mechanic and story device the game used was Max’s ability to reverse time. Since Max is nowhere to be found in this, it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing it at all this time around, so the question is, what can Chloe do? Well, Chloe has no magical powers, but what she does have is roasting skills. The new mechanic Deck Nine added is called Backtalk. Backtalk is a risk/reward argument system where you have to outargue and outsmart your opposite in a war of words. The player has to pick the better comeback multiple times to defeat the opponent, oftentimes using the opponent’s comeback against them in some way.

Example:
The opponent refers to you as “kid”
You then choose a response that’s fitting to combat it, such as “This isn’t a playground?”
If you run out of time or pick a bad response even 2 or 3 times, you lose the argument.
This new mechanic fits Chloe’s character perfectly and makes for a very clever and fun minigame that will test your comeback skills. I do want to see a bigger risk and/or reward for these, you really just get a stern talking to if you lose. Besides that, I very much enjoyed it and hope to see more of these in the next episodes.

Those are my thoughts on the first episode of Life Is Strange prequel, Before The Storm. A very enjoyable experience with a couple curveballs thrown at the player so it isn’t as predictable as previous players expected. It even came with a slightly different, very well animated and beautiful art style so characters aren’t staring blankly and mouthing their lines like robots in conversation. I should also note that the music in the game is pretty great as well, being much less calm than in the original, fitting Chloe’s character and story very well.

To returning fans, I would recommend this entry to the Life Is Strange series, even if you miss the time powers from the original. To new players, I feel you will have a different experience than I did, but I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to play the original before jumping into this one, but the complete original game is out if you want to try that first. New or returning, if you want to watch it being played first, I did do a full walkthrough of the first episode on my own channel if you’d like to check that out.

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