Video Games Review: Life Is Strange: Before the Storm Ep. 1 is a worthwhile prequel

Guess what, Life Is Strange is back and guess what? I played it, you want to know what else? All my fears of it being a shoe-horn tie in for some quick payout were put to rest, Life Is Strange: Before the Storm only grows on the originals strengths and weaknesses and we are left wanting more and more!

What do you think it is that makes this game so relatable and so popular? It’s because it tackles real issues that we try not to talk about in our every-day lives. Issues such as step parents coming in and making themselves at home when another parent leaves or dies, emotionally scarring issues that come from deep within us, issues that lead to drug and alcohol abuse and huge friendships that we try and forget about after they have been torn apart from us and from no fault of our own. Time, Consequences of what we do and say, distance and age are all major topics we have to deal with in life and in this series, as Chloe Price would say, ‘that sounds so fucking draining’, but in Life Is Strange: Before the Storm that statement could not be further from the truth.

A prequel of the wonderful first game Life Is Strange, Before the Storm lets us bear witness to the life of Chloe Price (played wonderfully by Rhianna DeVries) and despite sadly replacing Ashly Birch due to strikes, thankfully Ashly is still on board as a writer. We follow Chloe as she becomes friends with the ridiculously popular Rachel Amber, both of these characters are of course major ones from the original series and without ruining anything if you have not played it yet (Why? What’s your problem?), seeing how these two find each other and how it affects both of the characters going forward is a marvel to behold, a love letter to fans of the original. Knowing the outcome of most of these characters does not make the journey here any less heartbreaking.

BTS, features the same branching dialogue as the original and instead of having the supernatural ability of rewinding time with an old camera however, we now have Chloe’s ‘Backchat’ dialogue option. In certain situations the choice comes up to ‘Backchat’ in Chloe’s usual smart-ass attitude and change the current situation, it gives us almost the same mechanic only in a slightly more interesting way I believe. Conversations become more tense and outcomes more real without feeling like you have used a cheap way out.

There is also a nifty feature if you forget your objective, where you can stare at Chloe’s hand and see it written in pen, I remember doing this when I was younger to remember the milk, hell, I still do it!

The change of voice actors due to actors strike hurts the feel a little, but the characters, heart and soul of the original and its beautiful and well crafted environments make up for it tenfold. A nod also goes to the soundtrack mostly played here by an English Indie Folk Band called Daughter, fitting beautifully into all the scenes that play out.

A few nice new smooth graphics improvements with the Unity engine and small gameplay implementations gives it a cleaner more modern look and really shows Telltale what can be accomplished with the right touches, such as having near to absolutely no frame rate jitters or scene transition freezes. DontNod Entertainment have made a great choice handing this prequel series over to Deck Nine Games, they make everything seem like second nature here and for a company who hasn’t done much since Cool boarders 3 and Ratchet & Clank remasters on PS3 I cannot wait to see what they can bring us all next. Life Is Strange: Before The Storm feels like another chapter from the original series and that is a great thing. Bring on Episode two A Brave New World NOW!

Score: 9.0 out of 10
Highlights: Excellent characters, amazing voice acting, hard hitting subject matter, richly detailed environments, smooth framerate throughout!
Lowlights: Some bizarre graphic choices (photos blurred out), original voice actors are missed, there really is no more lowlights.
Developer: Deck Nine Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Windows PC
Available: Now

Reviewed on Playstation 4 Pro