For months, the world has speculated what might be in store next for Life is Strange and residents of Arcadia Bay. At E3 2017, Square Enix and Deck Nine Games confirmed that they had indeed been working on a new Life is Strange title and that it would be releasing later this year. Life is Strange: Before the Storm takes place before the events of the first game and will be releasing on August 31st, 2017. How will Life is Strange fans accept playing as Chloe Price and how will they adjust to being unable to rewind their choices? Let’s answer that with a preview!
During a behind closed doors screening, Deck Nine Games disclosed that they had desired to return to Arcadia Bay, but were not sure how to at first. The events of Life is Strange: Before the Storm takes place three years before the events of the first game. Gamers will play as Chloe Price, who is still struggling with the death of her father and the departure of best friend Max, who has moved away. Chloe seeks to cope through drugs, alcohol, and other delinquent and reckless behavior.
At the beginning of the demonstration, we see Chloe nearly avoiding being hit on the train tracks while making her way to an underground Firewalk concert at the old mill. At first, Chloe is stopped while trying to enter the underground rock concert, but she is able to talk her way in. Life is Strange: Before the Storm, just like its predecessor, focuses on the choices available to the player and in turn Chloe throughout the campaign. In the trailer, Chloe also runs into a pitbull named Delia, which can be pet with a simple action from the player, who usually doesn’t like strangers. After having an encounter with a shifty merchandise guy, Chloe can choose either to walk away or to release the cars brakes to mess with the guy and obtain a Firewalk shirt. After obtaining the shirt, Chloe can choose to take the merch guy’s money or to leave it there.
After her encounter with the merch guy, Chloe can speak to Frank Bowers, Chloe’s drug dealer, and ask for her fix. Frank tells Chloe that he will not sell her weed without her paying back some of the money she owed him. Chloe can then decide to either use the money that she had the choice to steal or to find an alternate way to persuade Frank. All choices Chloe makes will impact the game later, including the objects she interacts with. Throughout the story, Chloe can also graffiti places to leave her mark on the world.
At the concert, Chloe is rescued by fellow student Rachel Amber from two drunk men that she had the misfortune of interacting with. Rachel Amber is described as smart and popular, but little does Arcadia Bay know that their star student has a wild side of her own. The game’s narrative primarily focuses around Chloe’s interactions with Rachel and her community as she attempts to come to terms with her father’s passing.
Deck Nine Games stated that they wanted to show how the relationship between Chloe and Rachel developed and why Rachel was such an important person to Chloe in the first Life is Strange. Players will get to return to the Price house and Prescott school as well as other locations from the first title. The game will also feature new locations that will allow players to see a new side of Chloe that was not shown in the first game such as the overlook. Within the last few minutes of the gameplay trailer, players get to see and interaction between Chloe and Rachel held at the junkyard that takes place later on in the game. Chloe confronts Rachel on her shutting down emotionally and afterwards Rachel smashes something out of frustration. Chloe then has to look for a way to calm her down. During the gameplay trailer, Chloe can confront Rachel and if she does, Rachel will attempt to leave, which prompts a choice to be made by Chloe to either tell Rachel they are just friends or that they are something more. This creates those powerful relationships known from the previous entry, which is a welcome sight for the sequel.
Deck Nine Games has stated that Before the Storm should grant players at least nine hours of gameplay throughout the three episodes. The team also said that when creating the game they wanted to have relatable characters and environments. During the creation of the game, they made sure that the music plays a key role in the story. In order to achieve this, they brought in bands that might be unknown, but have the capability to enrich the story. As they were making their closing comments, the developers stated that objects found throughout the world will enrich the narrative and the player’s experience.
Although Life is Strange: Before the Storm does incorporate a variety of characters from the first game, the lack of any abilities may impact how players perceive the new title. Can the new development team change the formula and still succeed? Personally, I am excited to see what Deck Nine Games does with the franchise and I feel that players will be able to get past the lack of abilities and fall in love with the story and the characters within. The visual art for Life is Strange: Before the Storm is breathtaking and vibrant based off of the little bit that we have gotten to see thus far.
Episode 1 of Life is Strange: Before the Storm is scheduled to be released on August 31st for PS4, Xbox One, PC, Steam, and the Windows Store. Below is a gameplayer trailer with some slight alterations to the choices that we made behind closed doors at E3.
For more information, check out the official website.