I admit, this series was a little hard for me to appreciate at first. It is a significant departure from the initial storyline which bended reality and had a more superhero feel to the whole thing. In Life is Strange: Before the Storm, you are immersed in real life. It was hard for me to accept how real Rachel is, as all I had originally was photographs and dark rumors. Now that I get to actually go in her house and commune with her parents, now that I’m personally stirring the volatile mixture in this fracturing crucible that is her nuclear family, it’s not so much of a magical supernatural adventure anymore. This transition has been a little disorienting.
I’m starting to better appreciate the spirit with which this sequel was made. Chloe’s adventures are meant to be wholly in the natural world. It really is an interactive novel of sorts where we’re getting a clear glimpse into the lives of those who affected us so strongly in the first game. Like all things Rachel, the situation is even more complicated once you look under the surface.
These new episodes are more like a very direct commentary on the human condition than a game meant to merely titillate and entertain, although you will experience much titillation. Don’t worry about that.
One common thread throughout the decisions you make is the choice between just letting things happen or trying to more forcefully impose your will. It felt like the makers of the game were saying something about how if you exert enough force and pry at the right seams, you can get your way in the short run but maybe not in the long run. Then again, there are events you effect which really seem like they would be in your best interest, like not getting expelled from school so soon, or finding out who exactly that mysterious woman is (the identity of whom is saved as a bombshell for the very end of the chapter, according to the game’s story path that I experienced anyway), or standing up for Rachel. Of course, you could be spelling your own doom even though you’re trying to do the right thing. The first game provided quite a few lessons about how you should be careful who you go to war against, lessons which I should heed…
There is a very Shakespearean moment when The Tempest finally goes underway, getting the play-within-a-play action going as Chloe is practically forced to be a part of it. I was only able to get her to utter the correct lines by aid of the Internet, as I could hardly remember those highlighted lines in the script you find in the dressing room. And I tip my crow-head-shaped hat to the stagehand who placed a crucial Post-It note on the location where I needed to stand.
Why does Rachel keep forcing you to perform? Probably because she feels like she has to do so herself. She sees something kindred in Chloe, or maybe she’s trying to fuse their lives together in a heavy handed way. Nevertheless, I make many decisions in the game that I hope will strengthen the bond between them. Of course I did not miss out on the opportunity to make out with Rachel. I very well may have pressed the Save Screenshot button more times in those two minutes than I ever had before then.
In the end, I still find the story being recounted here to be very compelling. The final episode is out right now and I’ll be diving into and reviewing it soon. If you’re still on the fence about checking this adventure out, I strongly recommend it. Even if you’ve not played the first game, it does well as a primer and prequel.