Life is Strange: Before the Storm: A Review

Reviewing the new follow-up prequel to award winning game: Life is Strange

Stephanie Scarano, Staff writer

After the amazing hype following the award-winning game “Life is Strange” by DontNod Entertainment, I was worried that the next adventure in the series would lack the sense of wonder from the first game because of some differences in producers and voice actors. I was so wrong.

“Life is Strange: Before the Storm” is a game about following returning character Chloe Price, three years before the previous game took place. In this decision-based story game, Chloe deals with things as serious as drug abuse and family secrets, and as silly as forgetting your lines during a play. The game is fun but has its flaws — don’t get me wrong but “Life is Strange: Before the Storm” has some definite winning qualities including, but not limited to, its charming writing, stunning visuals and mood-setting music.

The game takes place three years before the original “Life is Strange” game at the same private school — Blackwell Academy — in the fictional town of Arcadia Bay. In the previous game, Blackwell Academy was a private prep school for seniors only.But now, Blackwell Academy includes sophomores and up. This isn’t the only thing changed in Arcadia Bay, however. Award-winning voice actress Ashly Burch did not come back for her role as punk extraordinaire Chloe Price, instead was replaced by non-union actress Rhianna DeVries.

Chloe is not the only one who sounds different in “Before the Storm.” The characters Nathan Prescott and Frank Bowers have different voice actors as well, and while this isn’t bad in and of itself, the new voices often come across as almost text-to-speech robotic.

One last issue about the latest adventure to Arcadia Bay: there are no stakes. Although the story is lovable and fun, and at times scary and heart wrenching, inevitably the stakes are lost because the player — they played the original game — already knows what happened to Rachel Amber. We already know that despite everything we do, Rachel Amber will still eventually meet her terrible fate.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the game as it is. Despite the sudden changes to “Life is Strange” canon and the shock of new voices for defined existing characters, “Life is Strange: Before the Storm” was still a win for me. Although the new voices took some getting used to, DeVries does a good job, capturing Chloe’s classic teen angst very well. The soundtrack to the game (including a stunning album written by English indie folk band, Daughter) is perfect for the edgy and angsty mood of the game and the sleepy town of Arcadia Bay. The story is so charming and the characters, precious and real. Even if the only struggle going on is someone not knowing their lines on opening night, the characters feel real, and are incredibly relatable. Although the stakes for the main characters were a little lost, the chance to meet the Rachel Amber from the first game is wonderful, and “Before the Storm” truly captures what it feels like to finally meet an old friend again.

All in all, I absolutely loved “Life is Strange: Before the Storm” for its story and characterization, even though the voicework left much to be desired. For its beautiful choice in music, style and writing, I give “Life is Strange: Before the Storm” a B-.