While there’s not much to the story yet, episode 1 does a good job of setting up what’s to come in Before the Storm. It did throw me a little having a different voice actress for Chloe (even knowing about it going in) but I think she did a great job. As for the actual gameplay it was decent. I felt like all the choices presented were something Chloe would say or do and I liked the new back talk feature (you have to pick the right things to say to win an argument) a lot. Even if I wasn’t that great at using it. The only thing I didn’t like was how rushed Chloe and Rachel Amber’s relationship was. I get that it’s a new intense, exciting and mysterious thing; but being given a choice between friends and possible girlfriend after such a short time made very little sense to me. This isn’t to say I wasn’t a fan of Chloe and Rachel’s relationship, far from it. I felt they had great chemistry and I’m curious to see how the relationship plays out over the next two episodes.
As for the other characters I enjoyed them. If you’ve played Life is Strange before you won’t find anything different here. That’s not a bad thing, just don’t expect any earth shattering revelations from Joyce (Chloe’s mom) or her boyfriend David. I’m a nerd in real life so I loved the characters of Mikey and Steph. Nathan is the same privileged kid from the first game, but he’s a tiny bit more sympathetic here, since we encounter him as he’s being bullied. I didn’t interact with Victoria Chase but I imagine she’s the same too. Elliot is interesting but since Chloe doesn’t talk to him very much I can’t say I thought much of him, he was just okay.
Like I said earlier the story is mostly setup for what’s coming next. But it’s a pretty good setup. I enjoyed seeing Chloe and Rachel’s relationship blossom, it made me wish I knew someone like Rachel back in high school. I was intrigued and sometimes frightened by the dreams that Chloe has about her dad. I could relate to her feelings of insecurity and loss. As someone who has some social anxiety, I also understood her need to be close to people but not really know how to reach out. I also loved the symbolism of the raven and fire I can’t wait to see how both of them are developed further.
Lastly I wanted to talk a little about the soundtrack. I loved it which isn’t surprising since I loved the first game’s soundtrack. The music is pith perfect in terms of tone for each scene. It only adds to the feeling I had of never wanting to leave Arcadia Bay and it’s characters. Since we’re following Chloe in this game there’s a little more of a punk rock vibe to the music which is great. As far as specific songs I really liked No Below by Speedy Ortiz and Through the Cellar Door by Lanterns on the Lake.
Overall I think this game was pretty good. The music was great and I still have some of the songs stuck in my head. The game play was nothing new but that’s fine, there’s no need to reinvent the whole point and click idea. Since this is the first episode we have yet to see what consequences our choices have, but it will be intriguing when we do find out. The characters are well written (if a bit stereotypical at times,) particularly Chloe and Rachel Amber. The new back talk feature was fun and pretty easy to figure out and I look forward to using it again. The only thing I didn’t like was how rushed Chloe and Rachel’s relationship seemed, and I wasn’t a big fan of how angsty Chloe was at first. But I’ve always said if a character has something to be angsty about (which she does) then I can live with it.
If you’re a fan of games with rich story and interesting characters, or just want something a bit different from the norm, I would highly recommend this game.