Life is Strange: Before the Storm Impressions – Complete Overall Thoughts

Can you name your top five video game titles? It’s tough but I imagine there’s a few that instantly come to mind as you begin to flesh out that perfect top five list. I’m in the same boat as trying to pinpoint a top five is like holding a small bucket to fight back the massive rush of water from a newly opened floodgate.

With that said, Life is Strange is one of those video game titles that instantly come to mind. For whatever reason, the narrative and gameplay resonated with me. As you can imagine, I was beyond excited when the announcement came for Life is Strange: Before the Storm.

Developers of Life is Strange, Dontnod Entertainment, had previously stated that they wished to move away from Max, Chloe and Arcadia Bay in their upcoming sequel. However, we were given one last chance to revisit the small town in a prequel.

Instead of our heroine Max from Life is Strange, our main protagonist in Before the Storm is Chloe Price. If you enjoyed the first title in the franchise, Chloe was a prominent character who acted as a sidekick to Max. Within the deep narrative of Life is Strange, it was easy to see that Chloe Price had a rough life. It seemed as the cosmos pushed Chloe to the ground and kicked her in the gut before drifting away into the abyss.

However, we didn’t really have a deep understanding of what all Chloe had to go through before Max returned to Arcadia Bay. Sure, we got small glimpses of her life throughout the narrative, but for the most part, we simply had to take Chloe’s word on everything that came up.

That is until Before the Storm released, giving a look at Chloe a few years before Life is Strange picked up. Within this prequel, we saw the demise of Chloe and in a sense, her rebirth into the world.

I thought Deck Nine, the developers behind Before the Storm, did a fantastic job. Visually, the game looked exactly the same as Life is Strange but now in the Unity game engine. Not only did the game looked similar to Life is Strange, but the game mechanics, for the most part, was right on par with the initial title release.

This is not an action-packed series but more an exploration adventure game. Players will be roaming around the game seeking out items or solving puzzles. Likewise, a large part of the game is interacting with characters so it wasn’t too much of a trouble mimicking the game mechanics of Life is Strange.

From interacting with characters, players can steer the narrative slightly with bigger choices being more defined when they become available and that’s again reflecting the gameplay from Life is Strange.

Of course, the biggest missing piece in Before the Storm is the time manipulative feature. Because Max is not in the main game, players won’t be able to reverse time and alter their actions. As a result, your choices are permanent so it’s best that you choose what you say wisely when conversing with characters.

That’s not to say Chloe Price doesn’t have some kind of attribute to use in her advantage. Chloe has always been known for voicing up her opinions. Deck Nine introduced players a backtalk feature in which Chloe can use her words to deliver a verbal tongue whipping in order to get her way.

This was a bit of a letdown feature in my opinion. There wasn’t much of a challenge in how to navigate through the puzzle type mechanic attached within the backtalk moments. Likewise, these moments are few and far between.

Additionally, this is an episodic game that only contains three episodes in comparison to Life is Strange which delivered five episodes. If memory serves me right, I feel that Life is Strange offered slightly longer episodes as well.

Of course, there is a bonus episode within Before the Storm which is set even farther back before the events of Life is Strange. Within the bonus episode, players are able to play as Max once more before she is given her time altering ability.

The audio was another big role in Life is Strange. Deck Nine took care of the soundtrack with Before the Storm which mixes the soft drama songs to complement the serious moments in the game and deliver the in your face rock that matches Chloe Price’s personality.

We’re also dealing with new voice actors with Before the Storm and each did a fantastic job in their performance for their various character roles. Regardless, after the SAG-AFTRA strike ended, Ashly Burch who originally voiced Chloe Price, came back to reprise her role in the bonus episode. It’s worth noting that Hannah Telle, who voices Max in Life is Strange, reprises her role in the bonus episode as well.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm is a solid game, but in my opinion, it doesn’t top Life is Strange. The narrative may not be as strong when it compared to the initial title release, but if you enjoyed Life is Strange then you really should give Before the Storm an honest go.

This is canon material that will flesh Chloe Price and it will certainly bring in a new perspective if you decide to startup Life is Strange again. Arguably, after playing Before the Storm and its bonus episode, you’ll likely find it difficult to not have an urge to replay Life is Strange.

Furthermore, because Before the Storm is out completely now, both in physical and digital format, you can enjoy the game from start to finish without having to hold off a month or two before the next episode releases.

Of course, if you never played Life is Strange, you could start from Life is Strange: Before the Storm first. However, in a lot of ways, Before the Storm can seem a bit more of a fan service to gamers who already enjoyed Life is Strange, though one that is certainly worth enjoying.


Find More Life is Strange: Before the Storm Content:


Full Disclosure: A copy of the game was provided for purposes of this impression.