Life is Strange: Before the Storm (PlayStation 4)

  • Gameplay
  • Story
  • Visuals
  • Audio
  • Entertainment

Also available on Xbox One and Windows

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Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 08/30/2018 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night

Life is Strange is one of my absolute favorite choice-driven narrative games, and the prequel, Before the Storm, absolutely did not disappoint.  I picked it up on Prime Day when it was like $10, and it quickly proceeded to devour the next three days of my life.  It adds a TON of backstory for Chloe and really fleshes out her character, making you appreciate her all the more in the original game.

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If you’ve played Life is Strange, then you know what to expect from Before the Storm.  It plays pretty much exactly the same albeit without the time manipulation mechanic.  Because it plays, looks, and sounds almost exactly the same, this is going to be a pretty brief review.  You play as Chloe going through events about a year before the original game took place.  Your choices and interactions with people through each episode affect elements of the story down the line.  Some choices have a negligible effect whereas other choices will have severe and widespread consequences.  It’s that kind of agency and impact on the game world that really take immersion to the next level in my opinion, and the only folks who I’ve seen do it better than the Life is Strange dev team is TellTale, and being second to them is by no means a bad thing.

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In addition to getting a firsthand look at the events that took place immediately prior to Life is Strange, there are several flashback sequences that do a lot of elaborate on the strained relationship between Chloe and her step-father, David, as well as the childhood experiences that helped shape Chloe into the dynamic character she later became.  Those flashbacks really help you empathize a bit with Chloe and go a long way towards explaining some of her more questionable decisions.  The writing, in addition to being able to evoke some strong emotional responses from the player, is brilliant with its humor both in design and in execution.  Not only are there some fantastic joke lines, but they’re delivered in a manner and with the timing to maximize their effect whereas such lines are often misused and ruin the mood of a scene.

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Life is Strange: Before the Storm is everything that a prequel should be.  It tells a gripping story, it fills in the backstory of its predecessor while answering some of the lingering questions with which players were originally left, and it tugs at the heartstrings with some incredibly emotionally charged scenes.  It doesn’t quite reach the stunningly impressive impact of the original game in my opinion, but it is nonetheless a superb follow-up and a definite must-play for any gamer who appreciates well-developed characters, a powerful narrative, and engrossing world-building.  I absolutely recommend it.

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