Life is Strange: Before The Storm Impressions: Episode One Awake

A simply fantastic narrative start.

To say I enjoyed Life is Strange from developers Dontnod Entertainment would be a vast understatement. The video game was an incredible narrative journey and one that I found myself going back to play somewhat regularly. It shouldn’t come to much surprise then that I jumped on the opportunity to check out the prequel for the popular title release Life is Strange.

Life is Strange: Before The Storm is set as a prequel to Life is Strange though it would likely be best to play through Life is Strange beforehand as you may feel a bit out of the loop with certain characters and situations. With that said the game does a decent job with filling players in on what exactly is going on just by exploring your surroundings.

Before we get too ahead of ourselves here, it’s best that we make mention that while this is a prequel to Dontnod Entertainment’s Life is Strange video game title, they did not develop the game. Instead, Before the Storm was crafted by Deck Nine and I can honestly say that they did a fantastic job with it.

Deck Nine took this title and I truly believe they gave it their all. Not only does the game have the aesthetics to match Life is Strange, the title mechanics remains very much in tact. The story this time around revolves around Chloe Price who is sixteen and full of teenage angst.

With her best friend Max away, her father recently deceased, and her mother dating an extreme no tolerance former military boyfriend, it’s clear that Chloe feels alone. This is something we’ve learned in the original Life is Strange video game, but before this title, it was uncertain just how much of her teenage angst is justifiable.

Instead, we just had to assume that she had a tough life and couldn’t bounce back after Max left. This first episode of Life is Strange: Before The Storm clearly, showcases that Chloe Price was unfortunate enough to get swept into a perfect storm with no real safety net in sight.

We won’t go too much into detail about the narrative, but you can fully expect that even making choices that seemed right at the time very well just may blow up in Chloe’s face. Each time it seems easier and easier for Chloe to raise up a protective shield from allowing anyone to get close until she happens to stumble upon Rachel Amber.

I’m glad to say that the narrative for the first episode “Awake” is solid. The writer behind the title, Zak Garriss, crafted a story that offers the same feel and tone that made Life is Strange such a work of art. Though if you ever had any doubt, it looks as if Deck Nine also had Dontnod Entertainment to look over the title on top of that, Ashly Burch, the original voice actress for Chloe Price, gave some insight when it came to crafting a younger version of Chloe.

Gameplay mechanics are for the most part just as they were on Life is Strange. Players are mostly tasked with exploring, interacting with objects, and making conversation with characters. Depending on what you find, additional dialogue options may be unlocked and during those crucial decision moments, the game world will freeze giving players a moment to decide on what choice to run with.

Unlike Life is Strange, there is no supernatural element for players to control. This means that you won’t be able to go back in time if you make a mistake or regret a choice decision. Chloe Price, along with yourself, will have to live with whatever decision you make.

There is one additional element added to the game to make up for the lack of a supernatural element which is Chloe Price’s ability to go off on anyone that comes in her pathway. At times, Chloe can argue her way out of certain situations, but this is one of the weaker game mechanics in my opinion. Players will have to be quick on their choices as you will have a time limit and depending on the scene or situation, reading the choices can be a slight strain.

I can’t argue about the audio. Depending on the scene, you may get the soft alternative rock that sounds familiar to the overall soundtrack of Life is Strange, but because we’re focusing on Chloe Price, there is plenty of heavy punk rock that fits our protagonist’s personality.

While on the subject of audio, it may be worth noting that the cast of characters have new voices attached to them. You’ll likely not hear anything that would sound really all that off compared to their original counterparts, but I could make out some slight differences from time-to-time with Chloe. Regardless, the voice actors behind the scenes all did a splendid job giving life to the various characters.

All-in-all, if you enjoyed Life is Strange then this is well worth the purchase. Before the Storm offers another chance to visit Arcadia Bay along with a new perspective when it comes to the life of Chloe Price where she is more presently feeding into her dark impulses. So far, only one episode is available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. There will be an additional two episodes released along with a bonus episode depending on if you purchase a Deluxe Edition of the game.

Full Disclosure: A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for purposes of this review.