Going back to the coastal Pacific Northwestern town of Arcadia Bay has been a joy. So many familiar places and people made it welcoming once again. As to did the game’s visual style and character development.
One of the central points of Life is Strange was Max Caulfield’s new power – the ability to rewind time, allowing the player to pick an alternate choice to their original. I was interested to know how a new game, a prequel in the case of Before the Storm, would hold up without this huge key component.
As it turns out there is so much more to these games than just the ability to rewind time. In fact the more I played Before the Storm, the more I realised that – although it is key to the original’s plot – Max’s ability isn’t the most memorable thing about her and Chloe’s adventure. The most memorable things for me were the characters, their relationships and the world they all live in.
Chloe’s special ‘gift’
Although Chloe doesn’t have Max’s power, she does possess the gift of ‘Backtalk’.
Stay with me.
Backtalk is when you engage in a battle of words with another character, with each of your responses having to be chosen before the timer runs out. It feels great to win an argument in this game and a lot of Chloe’s comebacks had me genuinely laughing out loud.
More of a coming of age story
Where a lot of the plot of the original was a mystery / detective story, Before the Storm is more of a coming of age story. There is no mystery to solve here. You, as Chloe Price, are going about your business and quickly befriend Rachel Amber. Their relationship advances nicely given the relatively short time frame and number of locations they have. By the end of the episode I could feel the strength of their friendship quickly becoming love.
I also loved how we got to experience life as Chloe, seeing her subconscious and how she’s coping with the loss of her father. We also see the early stages of David, her mom’s new boyfriend, moving into her life. I have to say that I couldn’t dislike David at all since I knew how heroic he became in the climax of the first game. Saying that, her comebacks to him when engaging him in backtalk are golden.
Still a game of exploration
Before the Storm is just as fun to explore too, as with it’s predecessor. You should talk to everyone and walk everywhere, because you never know what cool little conversations you will have. Each scene also has areas where Chloe can tag with her black marker pen. These are rewarded with achievements too so make sure you find them all.
On the whole I really enjoyed this game. I didn’t miss Max or feel the game needed anything else like another magic power or anything like that. Before the Storm felt smaller in scale to Life is Strange, but the characters and situations still helped to flesh out the world of Arcadia bay much more in my mind.