Back In Arcadia – Life Is Strange Before The Storm Review

From the events of Life Is Strange behind the eyes of a 17 year old Max Caulfield in Arcadia Bay, we got to put the pieces together in uncovering the mystery behind the disappearance of many teenage girls that went missing from the town including Rachel Amber who was a student at Blackwell Academy. We also got to learn some history about Chloe Price in Life Is Strange…Backtrack in time before the storm and the events of Life Is Strange 1, we get to learn about who Chloe Price started out to be in and outside of school to her backstory in Life Is Strange: Before the Storm.

In our review of Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, we’ll briefly mention what’s new in Life Is Strange: Before The Storm as well as what to expect when playing through all 3 episodes of the game as well as some of the bonus features that is offered if you get the deluxe edition of the game.

Chloe Is Back in Life Is Strange Before the Storm

chloe price life is strange before the storm

From playing as Max to now playing through the eyes of Chloe Price, Life Is Strange: Before the Storm brings us back to Arcadia Bay, Oregon to play as a 16 year old Chloe Price as she carries on her life as a rebellious and aggressive teenager. The year is 2010, 3 years before the apocalyptic storm that was or supposed to have struck Arcadia Bay and as well as the final decision that is quite heart-breaking to make from anyone’s shoes at the end of the first game.

rachel amber life is strange before the storm

Rachel Amber is one of the main protagonist, Chloe’s new friend, and Max Caulfield’s replacement in Life Is Strange: Before The Storm

For Chloe, losing her dad 2 years earlier in a car accident as well as feeling abandoned by most including from her best friend to make her life seem hopeless at first not to mention her choices to start using drugs and go into debt from chasing her drug fetish at a young age to make matters worse…and more to add to her troubles in the beginning of before the storm (we’ll let you find out what else Chloe will go through in the game). On the bright side, at least Chloe likes to rock out to heavy metal and hard rock music…

Being placed in a hole to being brought out of it, Chloe’s life will turn around when she will get to meet a particular “guardian angel” who will come to Chloe’s rescue as a friend and someone to lean on when there is trouble…I’m talking about Rachel Amber who was the missing person on the postersĀ and was one of the main focus points in the first Life Is Strange game as she comes from a similar but different side of the tracks as far as life goes and sharing the same grief to what Chloe has being going through from the past on up to the present time.

No More Time Playback…Back-talking the Present

backtalk challenge life is strange before the storm

The biggest change from the first Life Is Strange game to Before the Storm prequel is the fact there is no rewinding power (that is Max’s superpower…not Chloe’s) or going through alternate realities to try and defeat fate. Instead, Chloe has her own superpower which is using her own backtalk abilities through a “Backtalk Challenge” in counteracting anyone who is trying to take advantage of Chloe or in a way of telling someone how it should be…in other words of standing up for others to define the truth.

backtalk challenge life is strange before the storm

Chloe doing a backtalk challenge against Principal Wells. In this case, Chloe must get 3 responses correct without making a mistake.

When going into a Backtalk Challenge, it is required by the player to pay very close attention to the dialogue with the person you are talking in order to figure out the keywords in the conversation to figure out the right response in the challenge. Of course, it is required to be careful as most times you may not be allowed to make just one mistake to still continue the challenge and you’ll have about 10 to 15 seconds to come up with the right response to say.

The backtalk challenge is not always mandatory when it pops up as one of the interaction choices and may not always be the best choice when making a decision, sometimes it’s better to back off and not push the issue when facing facts or when it’s not your fight; but, if you want to make it your issue…then by all means get hardcore – Actions Speak Louder Than Words.

 

Graffiti Collectibles in Before The Storm

graffiti collectibles life is strange before the storm

Collectibles are back in Life is Strange Before the Storm with the change that the collectibles are now graffiti collectibles instead of photo collectibles introduced in the first Life Is Strange game with Max. Play as Chloe this time around, you can find each graffiti collectible across each episode with some collectibles easier to find while others take time to figure out as more than one task must be done in order for the “graffiti” interaction choice to become available.

graffiti collectible journal section life is strange before the storm

A look at the collectible section out of Chloe’s journal. These are some of the collectibles found in Episode 1.

When the graffiti interaction becomes available and chosen, there will be two choices that will be given at which you as Chloe can choose what she decides to write on a canvas, tag on the wall, or modify to leave your mark in creating art as a part of showing off the second side of the world…or in other words another form of expression and side from Chloe Price in person. If you explored in the previous game to find all the photo opportunities, then you would not want to miss your opportunity at seeing what kind of art Chloe creates from her own imagination to grab your 30 achievements in the game.

Much like in the original Life Is Strange game, the collectible section of the journal would give a clue or a hint as to what the collectible could be except the previous game gave a picture clue instead of in this game where a semantic clue is seen in the collectible section of Chloe’s journal that can help you find where the graffiti collectible can be found.

In total there are 30 graffiti collectibles with 10 collectibles total in each of the 3 episodes of Life Is Strange: Before the Storm with a possibility that there will be collectibles in the “Farewell” DLC that will come out later in 2018.

Bonus Features in Life is Strange Before the Storm

mixtape mode life is strange before the storm

For those who may already own the deluxe edition of Life is Strange Before the Storm, there are some bonus features at which one feature can be enjoyed while playing and the other can be listened to as a sort of a thank you gift for being a die-hard fan of the Life is Strange game.

bonus outfits life is strange before the storm

There are 3 bonus outfits available for those that get the deluxe edition of Life is Strange Before the Storm

The first bonus feature found in the deluxe edition is the new mixtape mode that provides the complete soundtrack of Before the Storm with a total of 25 songs to choose from with a cut-scene of Chloe that runs while the selected soundtrack(s) play…It’s nothing too special; but, it’s just something to remember where the song came from…My personal favorite song from the game is of course the official song which is “No Below” by Speedy Ortiz since the lyrics sort of represent Chloe in a way in the previous game at the ending and all through the beginning of Before the Storm.

The second bonus feature that is made available for those that hold the deluxe edition of Life is Strange Before the Storm is the bonus outfits that Chloe can swap to during the game when given the opportunity to change outfits…

 

 

Final Thoughts about Before the Storm

chloe and rachel life is strange before the storm

In playing through the first Life is Strange game, the whole story for me really “Hit Home” where I see many people fighting for what is right as well as at the same time being there for your friends whenever they need you just as you need them. The first Life is Strange game helped me sort of transition from someone who tended to be more selfish to someone who can offer up his shoulder for anyone to lean on when they need someone to talk to just like what one family member does for another family member as a way of understanding where their life is hurting in the world to fixing the problems found.

Life is Strange Before the Storm really picks up on this theory from the previous game in finding “The Truth” to knowing the right solutions to the problems in defeating those problems in this case is with both Rachel and Chloe while taking down a problem outside of their lives with someone who wants to destroy their lives without question (I’m talking about the problem with the evil face in this game and the previous game with the antagonists who destroy to burying human lives for enjoyment).

Despite Before the Storm being somewhat shorter than the first Life is Strange game, the whole story still had much of the same elements as the first game with bringing back the main character’s journal to read the entries from the episodes to the interaction UI that is brought to this game. I’m glad they made the backtalk challenge for this game instead of a plain interaction (with the exception of the decisive answers to the main points to ask of each character in the previous game) UI since it would at least give some sort of mini mind game to play within a game…Made me have a close attention span instead of goofing off in outer space as the characters talk.

From my eyes, the original Life is Strange game is considered one of my top favorites I’ve played in my 16 year career in the video game industry; but, the question that everyone could ask me is: “Does Before the Storm rank up there with the first game?”…and my answer would be “no” since it didn’t capture the moments that I saw from the first game. However, I believe that it takes some pieces from the first game to make it what it is in again being unique and heart-felt from a different direction.

My only complaint from playing LIS Before the Storm is the fact that the original voice actors did not return to voice the characters that returned to this game with the exception of Max from the last game (we don’t know if Hannah Telle will voice her in the DLC episode for this game) to Rachel Amber, the North brothers, Steph, and other minor role characters since they are new to the series and weren’t in the last game with existing voice actors. I wish the voice actors strike that went down before the game was released could have been resolved to bring the old voice actors back to work with this project for the characters that were coming back like Ashly Burch who voiced Chloe Price from the first game (she did contribute to this game though behind the scenes) to still keep that authenticity going for the LIS series to when it wraps up the story of Max and Chloe with this prequel.

Speaking of Chloe and Max, I’m going to miss them as characters in the LIS series as they set the tone for this game and it will be hard to go into Life is Strange 2 with new characters and possibly new voice actors as the setting and plot changes up again.

With all this being said, I would give Life is Strange Before the Storm a high score of a 4.5 out of 5 on my scorecard…My hat is off for Deck Nine Games and Square Enix for making this game happen and I for one enjoyed all 3 episodes they developed.

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Andrew Simmons

Chief, Author/Writer for Hammered Gaming Blog. 15+ year gaming experience. Always a big fan of most first-person and third-person, action/adventure, and racing games from Forza Motorsports to Rainbow Six.

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