Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 1 – Awake REVIEW

Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 1 – Awake REVIEW

0 comments 📅08 September 2017, 18:55

It couldn’t have been easy for Deck Nine to come in on an existing series and craft a story featuring characters that many already knew and loved. DONTNOD’s original five episode run of Life is Strange was a sweet, melancholic and fantastical tale following photography student Max Caulfield. Her relationship with the rebellious Chloe Price was its lasting legacy, even amidst the game’s other powerful ventures into school drama, teenage anxieties and the grisly secrets of Arcadia Bay.

With that concluded, then, it’s understandable that the idea of warping back three years for a new story featuring Chloe would cause so much worry. Was this really necessary? What was there to learn? And did we want to learn it, anyway? Well, there should no longer be any cause for concern. Deck Nine has captured so much of what made the original Life is Strange so special with Before the Storm.

It’s been two years since the death of Chloe’s father. Her mother has struck up a relationship with a new man (who she hates), school is a drag (which she hates) and she longs for her old school friend Max to return home (who she writes sarcastically hateful letters to in her diary). Altogether, Chloe views her life with indifference.

You get to see this first hand exploring Chloe’s home and chatting with fellow students around Blackwell Academy. Without time-rewinding powers, Before the Storm instead focuses on character drama, with the choice and consequence systems creating a web of possible directions for the story to go into depending on dialogue options you choose of the actions you take.

For Before the Storm, a new addition is ‘Backtalk’ – small dialogue puzzles that challenge you to pick the correct responses to get the upper hand in conversations. It’s the perfect substitute to Max’s time-rewinding powers as a way to represent Chloe’s smart-mouth attitude.

However, all of this becomes background when compared to the events that are set in motion after Chloe attends a metal gig at a dilapidated dive bar. There she meets Rachel Amber – the perfect girl from school who everyone loves and mythical figure from the original Life is Strange. The two have an eventful evening together fighting off some skeevy guys, drinking beer and moshing to the band. Chloe is floored after seeing this completely different side to Rachel and even more surprised the next day when she encourages her to bunk off school together.

Here, the game’s first episode hits its stride. As the pair hitches a train ride to the local park, people-watch, steal some alcohol and playfully jibe each other, their likenesses become even more apparent. As Chloe, you decide how much you want to open up to Rachel and it’s easy to find yourself embracing this opportunity she has to form a true friendship after years of detachment.

From this perspective, Awake is heart-warming, painful and liberating opening episode by making you a part of the budding relationship between Chloe and Rachel, while also offering gripping insight into a special friendship between two doomed characters.

Developer: Deck Nine
Publisher: Square Enix
Release: Out Now
Formats: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Price: £13.99

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