Life comes at you fast, as did Dontnod’s episode adventure game Life is Strange. After a rocky start with the first episode’s hit or miss writing, the series took off. It eventually sold over three million copies, and remains one of the most grounded and engrossing gaming experiences around. The story was perfect, focusing on two high school friends – one of whom has time travel powers – and the disappearance of a young girl.
What makes Life is Strange so great is that despite the time travel powers, the deadly storm, and the big mystery element surrounding it, the game still feels so grounded. Even though the game starred a young woman with time travel powers, I still connected with her and her life so much I couldn’t help but love the game. So I, and everyone, should be excited that we get to continue that story more, with Life is Strange: Before the Storm.
Before the Storm stars one of the original two protagonists, Chloe, and her best friend, Rachael Amber. Amber is the woman who goes missing in the first game, and this will be a prequel story leading up to the start of Life is Strange. But being a prequel to a game about time traveling powers, what point does this game have?
Without spoiling anything, one episode of the original Life is Strange has you going way back in time. The player character, Maxine, thinks she can stop the disappearance of Amber from ever happening in the first place if she can change one event in Chloe’s past. So, she goes back to when the two were kids, hanging out at Chloe’s house. Here, we learn Chloe’s tragic backstory, and we get a deep insight into why this once bubbly young kid turns into a hard-drinking, hard-smoking, swearing, blue haired punk rocker.
From what we saw of the brief trailer during Microsoft’s E3 conference, it seems Before the Storm will touch on what we learned during this episode and the aftermath. I can’t help but feel like it’s kind of a waste of time. In the trailer, we see a sad thing happen, and then Chloe gets sad. It seems like we’ll see her start drinking and smoking at a young age, as well as meeting Rachel Amber. But what’s the point? We already know all of this happens, so why do we need to see it play out in real time when we already know the outcome?
It all feels like the Star Wars prequels, doesn’t it? The story of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi was always more interesting when we heard passing remarks about it. Once the spotlight was shown on that story, the original movies lost a lot of its mysterious punch. Even if the prequel trilogy was any good, it would still take away from the originals because they were built from the ground up to feature Darth Vader as a mysterious foe. The “tragic figure” status didn’t materialize into the conversation until Vader’s final moments in Return of the Jedi.
Before the Storm can’t possibly be as bad as the Star Wars prequels (fingers crossed). Still, we can already see the cracks starting to form. Dontnod is out as developer, and Deck Nine Games is in. Chloe is also losing her voice actress, Ashly Burch, who was won a Golden Joystick award for the role. Burch will be writing the game, but the character is now being voiced by Rhianna DeVries. Don’t expect any time travel powers either, which begs the question – “What is the gameplay going to be like?” None of these changes means Life is Strange: Before the Storm will be bad. They’re not exactly reassuring either though, given the premise of the game to begin with.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm will be three episodes long, with the first episode debuting this August. With so few episodes, we’re probably going to figure out very quickly if this prequel is any good or not. As for Dontnod, they’re working on their own Life is Strange game, with an all-new cast according to rumors. We probably won’t see it at E3 this year, as the announcement was recent, and they’re currently working on Vampyr.
We really don’t need this game, and it feels like a cash-in on the part of publisher Square Enix. But let’s be honest, we’re probably all going to rush out and buy it anyway.