People like to talk about being a teenager, especially a teenager like Chloe Price, as being all about sex, drugs and rock and roll. While this may be an easy, throw-away blanket statement, a more honest and fair assessment is that it’s a time of choices, both big and small, whose consequences shape your mind, your future, and your life. Life is Strange is returning in the form of a prequel. Set three years before the first game, Life is Strange: Before the Storm will focus on a younger Chloe and her newly forming friendship with Rachel.
Escaping the busy E3 floor, I settled into a small, dark room along with a group of press for a hands off demo of Before the Storm. With the controller in the hands of a developer, we collectively agreed upon–or just shouted out–what choice Chloe should make whenever the option arose. Instead of trying to continue the narrative of the first game, Before the Storm takes a step back and explores the early relationship of Chloe and Rachel, taking a look at how their friendship formed and what set the events of the first game into motion.
Upon arriving at a dive bar to check out her favorite band, Chloe wastes little time in getting up to her usual mischief. When she can’t afford an overpriced band t shirt, she resorts pulling the handbrake on a car, causing it to crash into a wall, distracting the salesman, and allowing her to pilfer her prized apparel. Deciding whether or not to nab a wad of cash from the back of the car has a rather immediate consequence when Chloe runs headlong into a familiar face: Frank Bowers. He may be holding, but Chloe has a debt to pay before he’s willing to spot her any herb–a situation which sure makes having a roll of $20’s in your pocket useful.
The demo continued with decisions being shouted out left and right, small, playful arguments erupting within the audience over whether we should be choosing based on morality or if we should be trying ot stay consistent with Chloe’s character, at least until the action slowed, the screen fading white, a heartbeat adding weight to the situation. After a tense argument with a pair of men at the bar, Chloe finds herself in a bad spot, and is given the chance to either fight or flee. This was our first key choice of the demo, and it even came with its own warning: “Choose carefully, this action will have consequences.” While all choices in this game have consequences, key choices have a greater impact and ripple not just through the rest of this episode, but throughout the entire game.
Making our key choice meant the end of the demo, but not the end of our first look at Life is Strange: Before the Storm. We were treated to an additional 10 minute video, one which explored what appeared to be the first time that Chloe and Rachel really spent time together. “Rachel went missing in the first game, we didn’t want to tell that story,” our host explained as we watched the two girls cutting class, spying on unsuspecting picnickers, and sneaking booze in a junkyard. “We wanted to tell something completely different. We wanted to show how this blue haired, beanie wearing girl could come to be. We wanted to show Chloe’s childhood, to see her home life and her school life.”
Before the Storm is entirely focused on choices; there are no options to rewind time or any special powers within the game, our host explained. “What we wanted to do was return to what Life is Strange fans loved about the first game: Relatable characters and tough choices.” Laden with inner dialogue and filled with numerous choices, both big and small, Before the Storm feels right at home with the tone set by the original game.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm will be launching August 31st, when the first of three new episodes will release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.